Most colleges/universities require an applicant to complete a few essays during the application process.
Juniors can get a head start by writing draft essays over the summer!
These essays can then be tweaked, updated and used once the college/university application has actually been made available (times of availability differ from school to school).
Below are a few of the application questions used in the past.
Remember, essays can change from year-to-year, but this will help in getting some ideas/essays started as you prepare to apply to college!
Common Application (used by nearly 900 colleges/universities) www.commonapp.org:There are nearly 900 Common Application members in 47 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Qatar, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
Common App has announced that the 2020-2021 essay prompts will remain the same as the 2019–2020 essay prompts.
Coalition App Prompts 2020-2021
- Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
- Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
- Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
- What is the hardest part of being a student now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
- Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.
The below questions are "from applications past"... but may give you an idea about what colleges have asked about in previous years...Washington State University
Personal statement questions
Using about 100 words or less for each question, please address your experience in each of the following categories, keeping in mind how you can contribute to the future community of excellence at Washington State University.
· Leadership/group contributions: Describe examples of your leadership experience and share how you have significantly influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time. Consider responsibilities you have taken for initiatives taken in or out of school.
· Knowledge or creativity in a field: Describe any of your special interests and how you have developed knowledge in these areas. Give examples of your creativity: the ability to see alternatives; take diverse perspectives; come up with many, varied, or original ideas; or willingness to try new things.
· Dealing with adversity: Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to address this challenge. Include whether you turned to anyone in facing that challenge, the role that person played, and what you learned about yourself.
· Community service: Explain what you have done to make your community a better place to live. Give examples of specific projects in which you have been involved over time.
· Handling systemic challenges: Describe your experiences facing or witnessing discrimination. Tell us how you responded, what you learned from those experiences, and how they have prepared you to contribute to the WSU community.
· Goals/task commitment: Articulate the goals you have established for yourself and your efforts to accomplish these. Give at least one specific example that demonstrates your work ethic/diligence.
Western Washington University
Provide an essay that helps the Admissions Committee learn what is important to you, your potential for academic success and what you hope to gain from your experience at Western. The topics suggested below are provided to give you a starting point. Feel free to touch upon any that relate to you.
Most essays are about 500 words but this only a recommendation, not a firm limit. Feel free to take what space is necessary for you to tell your story, which might include information about:
- Your passions, commitments or responsibilities
- Personal challenges or academic hurdles you have overcome
- Your leadership experience
- The ways in which your community, family, cultural background or past experiences have enriched your life
University of Washington
A. Personal Statement (Required)
The Personal Statement is our best means of getting to know you and your best means of creating a context for your academic performance. When you write your personal statement, tell us about those aspects of your life that are not apparent from your academic record. Tell us about the experiences that don’t show up on your transcript:
· a character-defining moment,
· the cultural awareness you’ve developed,
· a challenge faced,
· a personal hardship or barrier overcome.
Choose either A or B. Please do not exceed 650 words.
A. Discuss how your family’s experience or cultural history enriched you or presented you with opportunities or challenges in pursuing your educational goals.
B. Tell us a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
· Some of the best statements are written as personal stories. We welcome your imaginative interpretation.
· You may define experience broadly. For example, in option B, experience could be a meeting with an influential person, a news story that spurred you to action, a family event, or something that might be insignificant to someone else that had particular meaning for you. If you don’t think that any one experience shaped your character, don’t worry. Simply choose an experience that tells us something about you.
B. Short Response (Required)
Choose one of the following two topics and write a short essay. Please do not exceed 500 words.
1. The University of Washington seeks to create a community of students richly diverse in cultural backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints. How would you contribute to this community?
2. Describe an experience of cultural difference or insensitivity you have had or observed. What did you learn from it?
· You may define culture broadly in Topic #2. For example, it may include ethnicity, customs, values, and ideas, all of which contribute to experiences that students can share with others in college. As you reply to this question, reflect on what you have learned — about yourself and society — from an experience of cultural difference.
C. Additional Information About Yourself or Your Circumstances (Optional)
Recommended length: Please do not exceed 250 words.
You are not required to write anything in this section, but feel free to include additional information if something has particular significance to you. For example, you may use this space if:
· You are hoping to be placed in a specific major soon
· A personal or professional goal is particularly important to you
· You have experienced personal hardships in attaining your education
· Your activities have been limited because of work or family obligations
· Unusual limitations or opportunities unique to the schools you attended
D. Additional Space (Optional)
You may use this space if you need to further explain or clarify answers you have given elsewhere in this application, or if you wish to share information that may assist the Office of Admissions. If appropriate, include the application question number to which your comment(s) refer. Please do not exceed 150 words.
E. Journal of Activities & Achievements
Using the grid provided on the application, identify and describe up to five of your most significant activities and achievements during grades 9-12. Write about why this activity or achievement had meaning for you. Tell us about your highest level of achievement or honor you attained; any responsibilities you had; and the contribution you believe you made to your school, community, or organization. Don’t just describe the activity or achievement: tell us what it says about you.
Recommended length: 100 words for each activity.
Your journal should include activities, skills, achievements, or qualities from any of the following categories:
· Leadership in or outside of school-e.g., athletics, student government, cultural clubs, band, scouting, community service, employment
· Activities in which you have worked to better your school or community
· Exceptional achievement in an academic field or artistic pursuit
· Personal endeavors that enrich the mind-e.g., independent research or reading, private dance or music lessons, weekend language/culture school
Format for the Writing Section
· Content as well as spelling, grammar, and punctuation are considered.
· If you’re applying online, compose in a word processing program such as Word, then copy and paste into the windows provided. Double-spacing, italics, and other formatting will be lost, but this will not affect the evaluation of your application.
· We've observed that most students write a polished formal essay for the Personal Statement yet submit a more casual Short Response and Journal of Activities & Achievements. Give every part of the Writing Section your very best effort, presenting yourself in standard, formal English.
· Proffreed, proofreed, PROOFREAD!
· Write like it matters, not like you're texting. This is an application for college, not a message to your BFF. Writing i instead of I, cant for cannot, yr for you're: not so gr8.
UW Honors prompts (2015-16):
Respond to the essay prompts using no more than 300 words each.
- The Honors Program’s core curriculum is comprised of interdisciplinary courses, experiential learning, and reflection via a portfolio. Why do you want to make this program a priority for your undergraduate experience?
- What is our society’s Achilles’ heel?
Eastern Washington University
Insight Resume (Written Experiential Assessment)
Eastern Washington University seeks to better understand the contributions, qualifications, and talents of our students beyond test scores and high school grades. Please address your experience(s) in each category keeping in mind how they highlight the contributions you will make to the EWU campus community. We ask that you respond to each of the following six questions and limit your answers to 100 words per question.
1. Leadership/Group Contributions: Describe examples of your leadership experience in which you have significantly influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time. Consider responsibilities to initiatives taken in or out of school.
2. Knowledge in a field/creativity: Describe any of your special interests and how you have developed knowledge in these areas. Give examples of your creativity: the ability to see alternatives; take diverse perspectives; come up with many, varied, or original ideas; or willingness to try new things.
3. Dealing with adversity: Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to address this challenge. Include whether you turned to anyone in facing that challenge, the role that person played, and what you learned about yourself.
4. Community service: Explain what you have done to make your community a better place to live. Give examples of specific projects in which you have been involved over time.
5. Handling systemic challenges: Describe your experiences facing or witnessing discrimination. Tell us how you responded and what you learned from those experiences and how they have prepared you to contribute to the EWU community.
6. Goals/task commitment: Articulate the goals you have established for yourself and your efforts to accomplish these. Give at least one specific example that demonstrates your work ethic/diligence.
Seattle Pacific University
Seattle Pacific's Christian identity inspires our mission to engage the culture and change the world. These articles show examples of SPU students who are inspired by their Christian faith to live out our mission. Please choose one article to reflect on and discuss how your own faith perspective and/or life experiences intersect with SPU's mission.
Short essay: Tell us more about one of your extracurricular, volunteer, or employment activities (100-150 words). If you need more space, please attach your response to the end of the application.
Personal statement: Please write an essay (500 words or fewer) that demonstrates your ability to develop and communicate your thoughts. Some ideas include: a person you admire; a life-changing experience; or your viewpoint on a particular current event. Please attach your response to the end of your application.
Central Washington University
· How have your past experiences influenced your academic record?
· What are you presently doing to ensure your academic success?
· What are your academic goals and how will CWU help you accomplish these goals?
Applicants may be asked to submit additional information for further review by the Comprehensive Review Committee. Additional time is required for the review process; therefore, any admissions decisions may be delayed.
You are encouraged to include your involvement and leadership contributions in your home, school or community in your essay.
The responses to these questions may be formatted in any way the applicant sees fit, including answering with one integrated paragraph-form essay response, or numbered or bulleted responses to each question.
Pacific Lutheran University
Personal Essay: The essay allows the admission committee to get to know you as a person, as well as to evaluate your writing ability. The essay is a great way to understand you beyond your test scores and grades. Please choose from the following admission essay options and check the box of the option you have selected.
Option 1: PLU encourages students to consider the question raised by the poet, Mary Oliver: What will you do with your one wild and precious life? What hopes and plans do you have for your future at PLU and how will you use your unique skills, passions and experiences to make a positive contribution to campus and your life after college?*
Option 2: Please submit your college application essay on a topic of your choice.*
Option 3: Please use my SAT Writing Sample as my essay for admission. (Please note that you will need to submit official SAT scores to PLU in order to have your SAT writing sample evaluated for admission.)SAT Essay ID (if known)______