The New Common App Essay Prompts

This week, the Common Application released its essay prompts for the 650-word personal statement. No big surprises here. Four of the five prompts are essentially identical to what they have been in the past few years. The one significant change is that they dropped the following prompt: “Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful?” In its place, they have put this new prompt: “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.” In fact, that substitution doesn’t seem like a very good idea to me, as this question is now not that different than the question that asks you to, “Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea.” That might have been around an ethical dilemma, and so I see a bit of redundancy there. Still, there’s plenty for any student to work with, and so now the work can begin for any of those super early birds who want to get going. A truly rara avis, I must say!