The “Your Personal Statement” Prompt
This first essay prompt is the most common and is simply asking you to talk about yourself. The trouble with this, however, is that students simply provide a background story and don’t really focus on any one thing that sets them apart or makes them unique in either the person they are or in the things they believe in. Boring or generic responses are often glossed over by admissions committee who has to read hundreds of these each day. Your approach for this should be writing about something specific and something in which you can provide a lot detail. Take for instance writing about family vacation to South America. Don’t just write about your favorite cities or regions or the people, write about something specific like a building, a person, a food, anything that truly personalizes your story or experience.
The “Your Intellectual Curiosity” Prompt
This can be a tricky one. The first thought students have about college is that it finally gives them a sense of freedom. While this is in essence true, students are also attending college because they should be interested in some disciplinary study. The review committee wants to know what studies or experiments you have conducted that have helped your intellectual development and how you plan on further developing your intelligence in higher education. Before tackling this part of the application write down a few of your favorite subjects in school. Next, write out specific topics covered that interested you or projects you completed of which you were particularly proud. Build on some of these ideas by imaging yourself doing related work in college. What kind of questions do you hope to answer in your future educational journey?
The “Your Favorite Hobbies/Activity” Prompt
This one is kind of a no brainer and allows you to simply write about something you like doing in school or in your free time. It’s often the first choice for many students, but this only means that you have to work extra hard to really make your own response stand out from the rest. You should aim to choose something for which you are really passionate about, bringing attention to some details that perhaps others wouldn’t notice. The best approach for this is to simply start by making a list of your interests. If you are having trouble coming up with ideas then you might consider something that you would like to do or keep doing if money was no issue or if you could spend the entire day (or week, or month, etc.) doing if you had no other obligations. Once you generate a few topics you should select the one in which you could provide the most detail.
The “Why Do Wish To Attend This School?” Prompt
And finally we arrive to essay prompt that asks you to provide reasons behind wanting to spend the next four years (or more) at a particular institution. The admissions committee is looking for two things: 1) it wants to know that you are interested in its programs or what it generally has to offer; and 2) it wants to ensure that you are actually a good fit for its community.
The best approach is to start by doing some research, particularly with the aim of finding some program, organizations, clubs, activities, etc. that you believe will complement or help your educational and professional goals. You might even mention the names of particular studies you would like to be a part of or professors with which you would like to work.