This prompt also represents an opportunity to consider questions of personal identity, whether that takes the form of racial identity, sexual orientation, gender, or simply one’s place within a specific community (even communities as unique as, say, players of World of Warcraft).With the topic of racial identity, it’s important to keep in mind the audience (college admissions counselors tend to be progressive politically), so this might not be the best place to make sweeping claims about reverse racism against Caucasian-Americans.This prompt is probably the most expansive in that you can choose any event that had a major impact on your life.
Upon reviewing all the Common App questions to decide which to write about, astute applicants might realize that Common App prompts #2, #3, and #4 are all quite similar in that they ask students to identify some sort of conflict and how it was resolved. Whereas #2 specifically refers to a failure and #3 is asking for a situation where you were the odd one out amongst a larger group, #4 is best saved for essays where the focus is on your thought process in response to a problem you’ve encountered.
Thus, when answering this prompt, it is crucial that you explain in great detail how you solved/would solve the problem.
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With the Common Application for the 2016-2017 live as of August, College Vine’s essay team is sharing the following tips on how to write the all-important Common App essays for the upcoming application cycle.
This essay prompt is difficult for many students who grapple with the type of challenge that they should write about.
The prompt itself provides three specific suggestions, but it should be clarified that the phrase “anything that is of personal importance” gives you a lot of freedom, allowing you to center your essay around essentially anything that can be loosely called a “problem.” Our advice is to pick a problem that deeply concerns you and make it clear to your reader why that topic matters to you at all, either through an origin story of how you became interested in the query or through an explanation of the potential consequences of the dilemma (depending on your topic).
Another (perhaps more powerful) tactic with this essay is to write about a more foundational failure and then assess its impact on your development thereafter.
This allows you to tackle more meaty questions about ethics (perhaps you cheated on a test and felt horrible about it), morality (maybe you stole something, your parents berated you for it, and now you hate theft to such a degree that if you find money on the street, you turn it in), or the human condition (perhaps you made an insensitive comment or were close-minded in a particular instance).
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.