DROP. EVERYTHING. New Common App Essay Prompts for 2017-2018

  • 🚨 🚨 🚨 There are two new Common App Essay Prompts for 2017-18: one is literally a blank slate, reinforcing my advice to ignore them altogether when writing yours. Full list below. [WashPo]
  • Get that money: Lingerie brands are getting in the scholarship biz. Anyone who's enrolled or about to enroll can enter True&Co's The Future is Female scholarship by March 31. [True&Co]
  • Say it ain't so...Do white people have an advantage in admissions? [NYT]
  • Calling all stressaholics! Write down your worries before a test: students who spent 10 minutes before the test doing so scored higher than those who didn’t. [NYMag]
  • Get your nerd on: All the Ivies now offer free online courses. [Medium]
  • Don't forget to speak human. Here's how humanity majors should apply to med school. [US News]


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. [No change]

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? [Revised]

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

4. 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. [No change]

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. [Revised]

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? [New]

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. [New]