Common Application Essay Questions

Common Application Essay Questions

With the start of a new year comes the announcement of the Common Application essay questions that the Class of 2019 (current juniors) will use as they apply to college this fall.

The Common App is used by 700 colleges across the nation. It’s really likely that your high school junior will use it to apply to some colleges. The application goes “live” every year on August 1st. If you are the parent of a rising senior, you may be surprised to realize how soon the application season will start!

Each year the Common App reviews the effectiveness of last year’s prompts with admissions officers, applicants, parents, and counselors. The essay questions for 2018/19 (the class of 2019) are the same as they were last year. You will find the list below.

If your student will complete a Common Application in the fall, you might not know that your student can get a jump start filling it out. Most of the information your student completes on the application will “roll over” at the August 1st date. Only a few things do not roll over.

Why is this jump start important? We see it every year. New seniors tackling a new year of school and activities (and just being seniors!) now have the whole college application process on top of that. Starting over the summer is such a popular idea that we created a College Application Workshop to help—especially with the essay question struggles (insert eye roll). LOL!

In the meantime, students can take a moment to read these. Perhaps they can start a notebook to document the thoughts about what essay prompt speaks to them. All early thinking is a great way to be prepared.

2018-2019 Common Application Essay Prompts

  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 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?
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  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, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  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?
  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.


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