12 Essay Prompts to Spark Ideas

The Common Application essay prompts have been announced for the 2022-2023 cycle, and they haven’t changed, more on that below. In addition, since the final option is “topic of your choice”, we offer some more prompts to generate ideas.

The purpose of the essay

First, it’s important to remember the purposes of the college essay. One, colleges want to see what kind of writer you are. They want to make sure the essay is well written, edited and carefully constructed. Your Campus Bound counselor and essay specialist will help you with that. Two, colleges want to learn something about you. The essay is your time to shine!

Common Application prompts

Here are the prompts for the 2022-2023 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. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

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. 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.

Additional prompts

Here are some other prompts that may spark some fun ideas:

8. What has been your favorite educational moment or experience and why? 

9. Have you ever been given a gift that is particularly meaningful to you? How has it impacted you? 

10. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and how do you use it in your own life? 

11. What is the toughest decision you’ve ever made? What was the outcome and learning experience from it? 

12. Are there any traditions in your family? Why are they important to you? 

If you are stuck coming up with ideas for your essay, contact your Campus Bound counselor who can help!

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