Person icon


April 2, 2024


The Common App Essay: Mastering the 2024 Prompts

 Book and a laptop on Table

The Common Application essay, often referred to as the Common App essay, is a pivotal component in the college admissions process. It offers a platform for high school students to express their unique narratives. As college counseling experts emphasize, the essay is a formality and a chance to communicate directly with the admissions committee. Here, we'll dissect the 2024 Common App essay prompts, offering strategic insights to help you craft essays that resonate with elite colleges and university admissions boards.

Prompt 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, please share your story.

Tip: This prompt invites you to share the core of who you are. Consider what differentiates you from other applicants and how it has influenced your perspective and goals. Use this opportunity to tell a story only you can tell, showcasing how your unique background or talent will contribute to the college community. Remember, effective essay feedback can transform a good story into a great one, so don't hesitate to seek input from teachers or college counseling professionals.

Prompt 2: The lessons we take from obstacles 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?

Tip: Admissions officers are looking for resilience and the ability to learn from difficult experiences. Describe the challenge and the journey of overcoming it, focusing on the personal growth that ensued. How did this experience prepare you for future hurdles? Integrating feedback from an online essay writer or a trusted mentor can help refine your narrative, ensuring your resilience shines through.

Prompt 3: Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Tip: This prompt is to understand your critical thinking and self-reflection capacity. Could you describe the process of challenging the belief and its impact on your worldview? This is a chance to demonstrate how you approach complex issues and learn from them, qualities highly valued in academic settings. Enhance your response with insights from essay feedback, showcasing your ability to integrate different perspectives and grow intellectually.

Prompt 4: Describe a problem you've solved or would like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma—anything 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.

Tip: Showcase your problem-solving skills and commitment to making a positive impact. Whether it's a community issue or a personal challenge, explain why it matters to you and how you approached or plan to approach the solution. Highlight your creativity, persistence, and ability to think outside the box. Soliciting essay feedback can provide new angles and enhance the clarity of your problem-solving narrative, demonstrating your readiness for college-level challenges.

Prompt 5: Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

Tip: This is your chance to highlight a defining moment. Focus on how this event or realization changed you and shaped your understanding of the world. Be specific about the impact on your thoughts, behavior, and aspirations and how this transformation will contribute to your success in college and beyond. Incorporating essay feedback here can help you fine-tune your insights, ensuring that your essay is reflective but also forward-looking and inspiring.


Navigating the Common App essay prompts is a journey of self-exploration and articulation. You can craft compelling narratives that resonate with admissions officers by delving deep into your experiences and showcasing your growth, resilience, and authenticity. Remember, the goal is to make your application memorable and demonstrate that you have the qualities and experiences to enrich the campus community. Utilize resources like essay feedback and college counseling to refine your essays, making them stories of your past and promises of your potential.