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However, you should be careful not to sound over-confident (as if you are incapable of any failure larger than this).
This prompt is probably the most expansive in that you can choose any event that had a major impact on your life.
One option is to discuss a cultural process (such as Bar Mitzvah or Upanayanam in Judaism and Hinduism, respectively) that serves as a formal waypoint on a path to adulthood, but if you do so, make sure to discuss why the ritual made you “feel” like an adult, not just why you became one in practice.
One final note: Even though the prompt allows you to explore more academic and intellectual topics, it is important not to get carried away with esoteric details.
Save the intensely intricate discussion of particle physics for class — for your Common App essay, the reader should still recognize that your discussion of particle physics was really about yourself, your interests, and how you think about the world.
Before discussing the specific prompts for the Common Application, it’s important to note that there are some general principles for approaching the Common App essay.
First and foremost, the essay is about telling colleges why you are unique and/or what matters to you.This prompt lends itself to consideration of what facets of your personality allow you to overcome adversity, as well as display your self-awareness.It’s okay to choose a relatively mundane “failure” such as failing to win an award at a Model United Nations conference despite putting in hours of research into the topics of your committee (and learning that you should focus on how you project yourself and interacting more cordially, even when debating and competing against your peers).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.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.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.Sign up now to get early access to our platform and get guidance applying to college!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.