What Are Common Application Essay Topics?

An application essay is not a form to place a series of joks or to list your awards in resume format. There are six common prompts for college essay applications: a personal challenge, a specific accomplishment, an influential person, the importance of diversity, the impact of the applicant’s community, relevant political and social issues.


Personal Challenge

Some essays ask to “Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken.” It is important to tell the story in which the challenge was embedded, how you felt, what you
learned, your weaknesses and strengths that were connected with this particular challenge.

An Accomplishment

To answer the question about your talents, qualities, and contributions, select one accomplishment. You shouldn’t present your resume – try to reveal something about yourself as a person: for instance, your perseverance or your ability to work well with others.

An Influential Person

Whether you choose a real or fictional figure, use the description of that person and your relationship to them to disclose a more personal picture of you. Describe why this person has impacted you and how specifically they have influenced you.


This prompt allows you to delve into what aspects of your community make you unique. For instance, are you an immigrant? Are you one of twelve children? Did you go to an all-boys school? What about your community is unique?


This is related to the community prompt but also allows you to discuss the importance of diversity in general and how your contribution to the school’s diversity could ultimately benefit the school.

A Political or Social Issue

As with other common application essay topics, remember to explain not the general
importance of the social or political issue you choose, but its importance to you and your aims.

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