High schoolers, can you believe how quickly time flies? Soon our 12th graders will be faced with the pressures of doing college applications. We recommend you get started early so as to avoid the stress of doing everything at the last minute. The Common App essay prompts will remain the same for the 2022-2023 admission cycle. In this article, we’ll provide advice on how to fill Common App and how to tackle the Common App essay prompts 2022 – 2023.
Common App Overview
What is the Common App?
The Common Application (informally known as the Common App) is an undergraduate college admission application that applicants may use to apply to any of more than 900 member colleges and universities in the USA (and other countries).
While the Common App doesn’t officially open until August 1, you can create your account, input basic information, and start to work on your personal statements.
The more familiar you get with the Common App, the less stress you will have as you navigate the many features of the college application process. This is particularly important for our students who are interested in applying via Early Decision or Early Action as those applications are due much earlier than regular applications.
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Why should you fill the Common App?
While admissions committees look at grades, test scores, and extracurriculars, there could be multiple students that have great qualifications in those areas for every spot in a university’s class.
As an applicant, you need a college admissions counselor to choose you over everyone else — to advocate specifically for you.
The Common App essay is the best way for admissions committees to get to know you. The Common App essay is one part of a portfolio of essays that you send to colleges, along with supplemental essays at individual colleges.
While grades, test scores, and course load provide a quantitative picture of you as a student, the Common App essay offers colleges a refreshing glimpse into your identity and personality.
With all of your essays for a particular college, you want to create a narrative and tell different parts of your story. So, the topics you write about should be cohesive and complementary, but not repetitive or overlapping.
How to Fill the Common App?
1. Creating your Common Application Account:
- Go to the Common Application website (https://www.commonapp.org/) and first create your account.
- You will be asked to provide basic information including your address, legal name, and date of birth.
- You will also be required to provide an email address.
- Remember to choose one that you check frequently as this is the way the Common App and colleges will contact you for additional information and updates.
2. Creating your College List:
- Once your account is created, the next step is adding colleges to the list.
- Remember, this list will change over time, but it is good to start thinking about the types of schools you wish to apply to.
- Learn how to create a balanced college list. Our Stoodnt Counselors can also help you with this process.
3. Write the Common App Essay:
This is generally considered the most difficult part of the process. But the sooner you get familiar with the different college prompts, the easier it will be when you actually start the writing process. The common app essay prompts for 2021-2022 are already available.
4. Gathering All the Other Information:
The Common Application takes a lot of time and effort to complete. Students will need:
- a copy of their high school transcript
- a list of their activities and responsibilities
- test scores and dates from college entrance exams such as the SAT or ACT if applicable
- information about their parents or guardians
- and a compilation of academic honors and achievements. Start slowly and systematically.
Common App Essay Prompts 2022 – 2023
Below is the full set of essay prompts for 2022-2023.
- 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 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?
- Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
- Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
- 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.
Common App Essay Tips
Here are a few basic things to keep in mind while writing the common app essay:
- Keep the common app essay personal and try to make an emotional connect
- Avoid cliché topics
- Pay close attention to your grammar and spelling, use varied sentence structure and word choice, and be consistent with your tone/writing style.
- Take full advantage of the available 650 words, as writing less tends to mean missed opportunities.
- Before starting your Common App essay, you should think about the other schools that you’re writing essays for. Make sure that you have a strategy for your entire portfolio of essays and cover different topics for each.
- Your Common App essay will be seen by numerous colleges. So, paint a portrait of yourself that is accessible to a breadth of colleges and admissions officers.
For instance, if you are only applying to engineering programs at some schools, don’t focus your Common App on STEM at the expense of your other applications — save that for your supplemental essays.
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How to Write Common App Essay Prompts 2022 – 2023: Strategies & Tips
Prompt#1 – 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.
This is a standard diversity essay prompt. This essay is really about showing the admission officers how your background shaped your personality.
You need to share a distinctive element of your background or upbringing. This prompt asks you to narrate a story that is core to your identity – a story about your personal growth, an unexpected friendship, or maybe a chance encounter.
Some questions to ask yourself as you brainstorm:
- What about my history or background sets me apart from my peers?
- How do I define myself? How do the people who are closest to me define me?
- What have I achieved that has been integral in molding my character and ambitions?
- What, in my seventeen years on this earth, has helped shape the person I am today?
This prompt offers an opportunity to engage with your favorite extracurricular or academic subject, and it allows you to weave a narrative that displays personal growth in that area.
Through this essay, you need to display your personality and a unique interest can be attention-grabbing, particularly if you have an unconventional passion, such as podcast & blogging about Cricket or cooking.
Prompt#2 – 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?
This prompt invites you to share a failure. Ideally, you need to address two issues – how you handle difficult situations and whether you are capable of learning from your mistakes. In addressing this prompt, you have the opportunity to show admissions officers that you can deal with hardships without just giving up.
If you don’t feel comfortable with this prompt, don’t attempt it. If you haven’t got a significant failure to discuss, then move along there are other topics to choose from. Failure essays are the best ways to grab the attention of admission officers.
It’s far more comfortable in an application to celebrate successes and accomplishments than it is to discuss setbacks and failures. A half-baked essay won’t take you anywhere after all.
Some key questions to consider:
- How do you deal with hardship?
- What qualifies as a challenge or setback in your life and world?
- Are you the kind of person who can rebound and turn every experience, good or bad, into one from which you can learn something? What experiences might illustrate this quality?
- What have been some of the major challenges you’ve encountered in your life? And was there a silver lining?
While it’s okay to choose a relatively mundane “failure” such as not winning an award at a Model UN conference, another (perhaps more powerful) tactic is to write about a foundational failure and assess its impact on your development thereafter.
There are times in life when your foundation is uprooted. There are times when you experience failure and you want to give up since you don’t see a solution. This essay is about your response when you are destabilized and your actions when you don’t see an immediate answer.
Prompt#3 – Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
This prompt basically asks you to demonstrate your leadership quality and personality. There are two ways to approach this particular prompt.
The question itself gives you a big hint – what prompted your thinking and they want to understand how your mind works. The catch is you need to tell a story about how you GOT to the impressive result – and what you thought about your action plan, what you did, and how it led to that result.
This prompt could be tricky to answer because most high schoolers haven’t participated in the types of iconoclastic protests against societal ills that lend themselves to an awe-inspiring response.
Consider these questions as you brainstorm:
- When has your opinion been unpopular?
- Why are you the kind of person who is willing to stand up for what you believe in?
- What is important to you on a fundamental level of morals and values?
- How passionate are you about the things you believe in?
If you ever participated in a situation in tandem with adults and found some success.
For example, by blogging or starting a tutoring organization, you could discuss your experiences as a young person without a college degree in professional circles.
However, avoid sounding morally superior.
Prompt#4 – Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
While this prompt may seem to be asking a simple question, your answer has the potential to provide deep insights into who you are to the admissions committee.
The Common App hopes that this question on gratitude and kindness will inspire students to think of something positive and heartfelt in their lives during these difficult times.
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The first step to writing this essay is to think about the “something” and “someone” of your story. It is imperative to talk about a unique moment in your life, as the prompt asks for gratitude that came about in a surprising way.
Some questions to ponder:
- How do you like to pay it forward in your daily life?
- How (and why!) do you express gratitude and appreciation?
- What are your favorite random acts of kindness?
- Has anyone ever restored your faith in humanity? How?
- Do you believe in karma? Why?
Note that the most common answers to this prompt involve a family member, teacher, or sports coach giving the narrator an arduous task ─ which, by the end of the story, the narrator becomes grateful for because of the lessons they learned through their hard work.
Try to avoid writing an essay along these lines unless you feel that your take on it will be truly original.
Prompt#5 – Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
This prompt is asking you to talk about something you did or something that happened that caused you to grow or mature as a person. Additionally, you need to explain how the incident influenced your understanding of yourself.
You need to write about accepting the responsibilities, limitations, and joys of being a grown-up individual. They want to know when and how have you grown as a person? Basically, this prompt wants you to talk about transitioning from childhood to adulthood.
One option is to discuss a formal accomplishment or event (whether it is a religious ritual or social rite of passage) that reflects personal growth.
Alternatively, a more relaxed way to address this prompt is using an informal event or realization, which would allow you to show more personality and creativity.
It’s also worth noting the emphasis on understanding others. You need to write about how an event influenced your understanding of others.
Some other things to consider:
- How do you react to periods of transition? What inspires a change in your perspective?
- When have you had a “eureka” moment, and how has it impacted the way you lived your life thereafter?
- What were the moments in life that fundamentally changed you as a person?
- When did you learn something that made you feel more adult, more capable, more grown up?
Prompt#6 – 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?
This prompt is asking you to describe something that you’re intellectually passionate about. You also need to detail how you have pursued expanding your own knowledge on the topic. Did you undertake extra coaching or online courses?
This prompt allows you to expand and deepen a seemingly small or simple idea, topic, or concept.
In essence, it’s asking you to identify and discuss something that enthralls you – something that kicks your brain into high gear.
Some key questions to consider:
- What floats your boat? Do you have an appetite for knowledge about something specific? Or, as we asked in the breakdown for Prompt #1: what do you love, and why do you love it?
- What lengths have you gone to in order to acquire new information about or experiences related to a topic of interest?
- How do you typically seek to enrich your knowledge when something appeals to you? Do you have a favorite corner of the library (or internet)? A mentor who is open to answering your burning questions?
- What about the process of learning, especially about subjects that call out to you, is satisfying?
Prompt#7 – 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.
This is what we call an open-ended prompt. You can do whatever you want with it, which most folks find utterly terrifying. This is a sort of choose-your-own-adventure prompt.
This prompt allows you to express what you want to express if it doesn’t align directly with the other prompts.
But, you should demonstrate some of the key qualities that admission officers look for in all college essays – academic passion, integrity, intellectual curiosity, values, compassion, interesting hobbies, persistence, ability to face obstacles, and ability to overcome challenges.
Some questions to consider as you brainstorm:
- What do you want admissions to know about you that they wouldn’t be able to glean from your transcript, test scores, or teacher recommendations?
- What are the stories that come up over and over again, at the dinner table or in the cafeteria with your friends, that might give admissions some insight into who you are and what is important to you?
- If you had ten minutes alone in a room with an admissions officer, what would you want to talk about or tell him or her about yourself?
- What would you bring to a college campus that no one else would or could?
Final Thoughts on Common App Essay Prompts
- All Common App essays must show your personality, identity, and aspirations, as well as spark discussions on interests, character, values, and community.
- Picking and responding to a Common App prompt requires a lot of self-reflection and time, but it does not have to be difficult.
- So long as you choose a prompt that speaks to you and connects to your identity, you’re guaranteed to write an authentic and descriptive response.
- Furthermore, if your essay is well organized with a clear topic and has evident significance, it will leave a lasting impression on admissions officers and increase your chances of admissions.
- Make sure you start early with your personal statement, revise it multiple times, and follow some of the advice in this blog post, and before you know it you will have a unique and impactful essay.
We here at Stoodnt recognize how overwhelming the college application process is but we are here to help you through the entire process.