Writing Essay: Tips and Prompts

Writing is probably one of the best ways to improve your thinking, develop communication skills.

Purpose of the writing essay

For colleges, the essay not only provides an opportunity to evaluate your creativity, writing style, and ability but also says something about your outlook on life—your preferences, values, the way you think—and the experiences and people who have uniquely shaped you. Finally, colleges can use the essay to begin picturing how you’ll connect with and make the most of the resources within their specific campus communities.

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The essay is valuable to you and the colleges to which you are applying. If you view the application as pieces of a puzzle or as independent voices that come together to tell your story, the essay is part of a puzzle that you have complete control over. An essay also gives you the opportunity to say what was not said in your statement and make it your distinctive voice.

Writing essay tips

Tell your story.
It may be banal advice, but it is also true. Foster counselors develop a sixth sense about essay authors who are genuine. You will receive points for being serious and true to yourself.
Write with focus.
Another very simple piece of advice, but many of the less convincing essays that we read each year do not focus. Think of a special piece of information that you want the reader to know about you at the end of your essay and write with this central topic.
Answer the question.
At the end of your targeted essay, make sure that what you write directly answers the query or question presented in your chosen essay.
Throw out your thesaurus.
Parading your highly evolved vocabulary in front of the admissions committee in order to impress is a very seductive trap. The most sophisticated writers can convey a message in simple and concise language. Being able to cut to the heart of a complex issue is one of the greatest signs of intelligence!
Read your essay aloud to someone.
Reading the essay out loud offers a chance to hear how your essay sounds outside your head. This exercise reveals flaws in the essay’s flow, highlights grammatical errors, and helps you ensure that you are communicating the exact message you intended.
Enlist a proofreader.
As a writer, you can become very close to your work. A proofreader will review your essay with fresh eyes and may even catch mistakes that you have routinely missed. In choosing a proofreader, find someone who knows you well, but who will also help you to preserve your voice within the essay.

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Common application writing essay prompts

  • Some students have the experience, personality, interest, or talent that is so significant that they believe their statement would not be complete without it. If this sounds like you, then share your story. 
  • The lessons we learn from the obstacles we face can be fundamental to success. Indicate the time when you encountered a problem, failure, or failure. How has this affected you, and what have you learned from the experience?
  • Think about the time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What made you think? What was the result?
  • 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, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  • 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? 
  • 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.

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