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  • Writer's picturePirie McIndoe

What You Need to Know About the Common Application in 2020

Common Application essay prompts will remain the same in 2020.

The Common Application has announced that the 2020 essay prompts will remain the same as the 2019 essay prompts. This allows students to get a head start on the fall application process. The essay prompts provide a broad range of topics for students to share their experiences and goals.

Essays are a critical part of every college application.

The basic application is essentially academic and demographic information. Important to be sure, but it paints only a black and white version of a student.

Essays allow the student to share their experiences, goals, passions and more. They add the color to the student portrait. Essays allow the admissions counselors to get to know the student, and, the best essays, allow the counselors to make a personal and emotional connection. While some students find the essays easy to write, most do not. In fact, most students find the process quite challenging.

2019-2020 Common Application Essay Prompts

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

  1. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

  2. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

  3. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

  4. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

  5. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

  6. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

Is one essay prompt better than another?

No! Students should respond to the prompt that will allow them to tell a good story about who they are, and who they want to become in the future. Essays should be well written and free of typos & obvious grammatical errors. They do not need to be works of literature.

Remember, admissions counselors are trained to spot essays that are professionally written.

If you plan to apply through the Common Application, much of your work can be completed before your senior year starts! When everyone else is stressing in October, you can relax and enjoy the football game!

FUN FACT: The school mascot of North Carolina School of the Arts is the Fighting Pickles – really it is.

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