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2015-2016 College Application Essay Prompts

My Pathway to College

While the college essay is just one portion of the application process, it does carry weight. Think about it: the personal essay is the only place an admissions reader can discover something about you that is not covered in the rest of the application. So use this platform to share your thoughts, inspirations, and experiences. And have fun with it!

Below are the 2015-2016 Common Application, University of California Admissions, and Universal College Application essay prompts. If there are multiple prompts to choose from, first brainstorm ideas, events, and personal stories to help you identify a topic that you’re passionate about. Then, you can start formatting your ideas to fit one of the essay prompts. If you get stuck, bounce ideas off close friends, teachers, mentors and your parents. And make sure to have a teacher or parent look over your essay for feedback and grammatical errors. Remember: It’s completely normal to go through multiple revisions.

And if you’d like help brainstorming your essay topics, My Pathway to College specializes in helping students write an essay that will stand out and highlight your strengths and unique qualities. Contact us to schedule your brainstorming essay session!

Limit is 650 words.

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.

2) 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?

3) Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?

4) 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.

5) Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

There are TWO essay prompts: (1) the general prompt (2) the freshman or transfer prompt. Word count for both essays combined should not exceed 1,000 words.

1) Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?

2) Freshman Prompt: Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.

Transfer Prompt: What is your intended major? Discuss how your interest in the subject developed and describe any experience you have had in the field — such as volunteer work, internships and employment, participation in student organizations and activities — and what you have gained from your involvement.

Limit is 650 words.

Demonstrate your ability to develop and communicate your thoughts. Some ideas include: a person you admire; a life-changing experience; or your viewpoint on a particular current event.


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