The Common Application Essay Prompts

The Common Application Essay Prompts have been published for the 2020-2021 application cycle.

The Common Application Essay Prompts have been published for the 2020-2021 application cycle. This appears to be quite early in the year and there was not much fanfare as there has been in the past. Perhaps it is because these are the same prompts as the 2020 prompts. The Common Application asked for feedback from its members, school counselors, students and Independent Educational Consultants. The consensus, of 10,000 asked (two-thirds students), “the prompts do their job well.”

My advice is to complete it by August, mess around with the prompts and draft and revise (remember, revision is different from editing). Make sure your voice rings true and you are getting your point across.  Revision may take several drafts. Though, if working with a consultant, most of us have a process we work through and can certainly assist you in writing a strong essay so admissions can ‘hear’ your own voice.  

What do admissions officers want to hear… they want to hear YOUR voice. Not a parent’s voice, not a surrogate’s voice, and certainly not a ghost writer’s voice. Admission officers have an  uncanny gift of knowing when a student has not written their essay. 

My other bit of advice is for sure to make an account on The Common Application and start filling in the ‘bits and pieces’ – name (proper name), address, email (an email where universities can send you loads of email and the email address sounds professional, not a silly email address and where you can send universities general queries and emails of generated interest), and your parents particulars. It will save loads of time. Juniors can do this, and this information will roll over to Senior year. 

Common Essay Prompts for the 2020-2021 Application cycle: 

  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. Shae 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 more detail:  go to  You can also do a college search on the Common App. There is loads of information to be found. 

Contact World Student Support for assistance on the essay writing portion as well as the university search.

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