ForwarDirections – Educational Coaches / College & Career Planning

2017 College Essay Prompts

The University of California and the Common College Application organizations have released their 2017 college essay prompts. Now is a good time to start writing your answers to these prompts in preparation for college applications that will be due in October 2016.

Here are the University of California college essay writing prompts (which have changed from the past): “We’ve replaced the personal statement with the new personal insight questions for the fall 2017 application. We hope this new format will give you clearer guidance and more flexibility in the kind of information you want to share with us.”

  • You will have 8 questions to choose from. You must respond to only 4 of the 8 questions.
  • Each response is limited to a maximum of 350 words.
  • Which questions you choose to answer is entirely up to you:  But you should select questions that are most relevant to your experience and that best reflect your individual circumstances.

1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.  

2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.

3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?  

4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

6.  Describe your favorite academic subject and explain how it has influenced you.

7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?  

8. What is the one thing that you think sets you apart from other candidates applying to the University of California?

Common Application Essay Prompts, 2016-2017

The essay prompts for the Common Application, used by many private colleges, are as follows:
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.

2. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?

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.

5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

College Essay Writing Prompts: