College Entrance Essay Prompts

PROMPT #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, please share your story.


Who are you, and what influences in your life have shaped you into that person? What makes you, you?


  • Broad environmental factors? (Ex: growing up in a military family, living in an interesting place, your family and family rituals, or dealing with an unusual family situation)
  • Identity? (Ex: your race, ethnicity, or religion; can be less serious – like your identity as a Bears fan)
  • An interest or talent? (Ex: music, sports, a certain song or band, a single Television episode, your obsession with nail art, your love for 18th century French paintings, your piano talents, your singing, etc)


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?


Show your ability to learn and grow from your failures and mistakes. Explain how you learned and grew from the experience. Show them you can deal with hardship, you can rebound from your mistakes, you can overcome difficult times, and you are a positive person who can see the silver lining in a storm cloud.


  • Do NOT choose a no-big-deal failure!!! (Failure to get an A on an exam; failure to get tickets to a concert you wanted to go to).
  • Do NOT choose a failure that shows bad judgment!!! (A time you crashed your car because you were fooling around, or a time you followed the crowd and ended up drinking underage).
  • DO choose a time that was hard for you; a time where you were really upset and had to do a lot of thinking, but you eventually grew and learned from the whole thing.


PROMPT #3: Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.


When did you know you weren’t a kid anymore? Did you have a lightbulb moment where you suddenly felt like a young adult? This could be something big like your confirmation, your 16th birthday, or a time you had to step up and be the adult in some situation. It could be small, like a conversation you had with your mom one night, or the first time you drove by yourself.


  • Was there a moment in your life that FORCED you to grow up? To be mature, maybe even before the other kids in your grade had to grow up?
  • Was there a time when you learned something that made you feel more adult , more grown-up, or just more capable?
  • Have there been any moments in your life that have made you really FEEL the transition, the transformation, from kid to adult?

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