This is the second 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.
Last week I talked about the first essay prompt, what it’s asking you to do and even gave you an example of a student who had written his essay for that prompt. If you missed the post, here it is:
Today, I wanted to talk about the second prompt:
Prompt #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?
I like this topic because who hasn’t failed at something in their lives? Failures are the building blocks of character and colleges love applicants with character-building stories. It shows them that when life gets tough at college and you get knocked down – and you will – you’re more likely to get up and keep getting after it. You will work hard to overcome a bump in the road and that you will find success.
Just don’t dwell on the failure itself. In fact, you should briefly introduce the failure and then spend the bulk of your essay talking about how it affected you and what you learned from it.
One former student wrote about her struggles in a ceramics class. She had always excelled in anything artistic but, no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t get her clay to take shape on the wheel. After failing multiple times to produce a basic clay pot, she took matters into her own hands. She spent hours scouring YouTube watching videos on hand placement, controlling wheel speed and developing the patience it takes to craft such a delicate piece of art. She learned to think creatively in the face of adversity, to look at problems from different perspectives and that with some patience and resolve, that she could solve problems on her own.
Working on a ceramics wheel isn’t an Earth-shattering idea, but for this student it was a key life lesson that transcended into other areas of her life. If something like that hasn’t happened to you, it’s okay. There’s five essay prompts, so if you’re doubting whether or not you have failed at something that has subsequently helped you to grow, then consider going in another direction with your essay.
In my next post, I’m going to talk about the third Common Application essay prompt which asks you to write about a time when you challenged an idea or belief. 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.