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Writing the New Common Application Essay: How to Answer Prompt #7

The Common Application essay section gives college applicants an opportunity to think outside the constraints of the traditional personal statement essay. And, the new prompts are like a breath of fresh air for admissions committees engaged in reading thousands of similar essay topics each year.

In this installment of our series on Writing the New Common Application Essay, we’ll look at prompt #6 (if you’re not a fan of this prompt, check out our thoughts on prompt #1, prompt #2, prompt #3, prompt #4, prompt #5, and prompt #6):


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.

For all intents and purposes, seven is quite the lucky number. There are seven seas, seven continents and seven days in a week. Plus, many students like to apply to seven colleges (two reach schools, three target schools and two safety schools—more or less). If you’re up for taking risks, and don’t mind an unorthodox approach to writing, selecting prompt #7 could the winning choice for you.

When it comes to college admissions, you want to win big. You’re pretty lucky to be among the first to get this prompt option, but don’t forget that essay development is a skill-based art. If you go after this topic, you’re in it for the thrill!

Check out these helpful tips and things to look for as you begin writing for prompt #7.

More choices, better chances.
People may tell you that college admissions is a “game of numbers,” and while your GPA and other scores play a role in your application package, don’t underestimate the power of a polished essay. This topic is filled with possibilities. It doesn’t lead you to a certain kind of story, experience or perspective. Love it or hate it, this prompt gives you more creative choices and can even up your chances at “wowing” the admissions committee.

Write what you want the committee to know about you...
...rather than what you think you have to say to get admitted. Jot down a prioritized list of statements you want to make about who you are, your goals and how attending your college of choice will help make those dreams a reality. When brainstorming, write freely and explore different genres including poetic, expository and persuasive styles. This will guide you toward your strengths. Write freely and limitlessly.

Take a walk down memory lane.
Don’t just start with a blank sheet of paper. This prompt invites you to explore what you’ve already created. Here’s a list of things you may have already written that can inspire you to write your best college application essay:

Write smart(ly).
While the list above reveals that you likely have a host of writing in your toolkit, don’t try to take the easy way out. Good, succinct and deliberate writing comes with effort and practice. Admissions committees aren’t looking for you to simply send in an “A” paper you wrote for a class. They seek (and can definitely tell) students who spend time developing their ideas and can clearly articulate why they should be selected among their top candidates. Do the hard work and revise and rewrite to your heart’s content. Read your narrative aloud and imagine that your audience is right in front of you. Grammar matters. And things like sentence variety, figurative language and effective examples can go a long way.

Trying something new is challenging, but often the payoffs are big. Don’t leave your writing to chance, Veritas Prep consultants can help you…