This is the fourth installment in a series of posts I’m doing about the Common Application essay prompts. Now that summer is here, it’s a great time to work on your essay so that you can take your time, let your mind wander and put together something that truly compliments your applications.
I’ve already talked about the first three essay prompts and what they’re asking you to do. If you missed them, here they are:
Today, I wanted to talk about the fourth prompt:
Prompt #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.
This prompt is brand-new this year and I love it! It’s so open-ended and allows you the room to really get into something that has personal significance for you.
Of course, you have to start out by talking about a problem. Whether you’ve solved it or you are trying to solve it, this prompt is all about your effort to effect change. Now, you have to be careful not to dwell on something that’s too big or vague like poverty or racism – an approach like that will sink your essay quickly – and, instead, focus on something specific and, as the essay asks you to do, get PERSONAL.
I think college admission counselors will like this prompt as it allows you room to talk about your problem-solving skills and what’s college if not one series of problems to solve after another? The prompt also allows you to shed light on your values and your willingness to take action for something you believe in.
So, if you’ve ever taken the initiative to do something about a problem or are even in the process of doing it, this could be a great prompt for you to explore. If not, there’s five essay prompts, so consider going in another direction with your essay.
In my next post, I’m going to talk about the fifth Common Application essay prompt which asks you to write about a transition from childhood to adulthood. Stay tuned…
If you would like some assistance with your college essay or any other aspects of your college search, contact me today for a free 60-minute consultation.