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When to Begin Your College Essay

Posted by: Website Administrator on 6/1/2015

The college essay, or personal statement, is one of the most important elements of the college application process. As a result, rising seniors may be wondering about when they should begin working on their essays.

It’s best to wait until later this summer, or at least until you’ve completed your summer program or experience, to begin the writing process. There are several months between now and when your applications are due, and a lot can change in that time. You want your essay to be an up-to-date reflection of your writing style, who you are, and how you think.

With that in mind, the Common Application has actually already made the application prompts for 2015-2016 available. While it’s still too early to begin writing and brainstorming in earnest, you can take some time now familiarize yourself with the prompts. If any ideas come to you, write them down and refer to them later.

Here are the 2015-2016 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.
  • The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  • 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.
  • Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

Remember, even though the prompts for this year are available, it doesn’t mean you should be working on your essay now. Rising seniors have plenty of other things to focus on (e.g. standardized testing, maintaining your grades, and asking for recommendation letters) before the end of the school year.

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