• Eva Makarevich

College Essay Process, Prompts and More!


Writing a college essay is arguably the hardest part of the college admissions process. Often writers find themselves in a writer’s block or don’t know which perspective to write their essay from. Well, this is your ultimate guide to the different types of college essays, their prompts, deadlines, and more!

A narrative essay typically is an essay written in the first person, about a real life experience relevant to the plot. While writing a narrative using descriptive language is essential to make the reader feel like a part of the story and envision everything from the text. A well-written essay will bring the end with a personal statement, often answering the prompt.

Descriptive essays are similar to narrative essays. A writer describes something of personal significance. This can be an object, a person, or even a thought! The descriptive essay attempts to communicate a deeper meaning through the description. The writer should use sensory details, and make the reader envision the thought to spark emotion within the reader.

An expository essay is written to analyze a topic. Unlike a narrative, this essay is an informative essay, bringing data and statistics into writing. It can be a “how-to” essay, a cause and effect essay, a compare and contrast essay, or a process essay. This type of essay also does not focus on emotion and is not written in the first person either as it focuses on the data and facts.

Persuasive essays are written to convince the reader. It usually is written to showcase the students’ abilities and hobbies, reasoning why the institution such choose them (however not always, as in often cases the purpose of the writing differs). Persuasive essays are written to convince the reader to accept the writer’s point of view or recommendation. To convince the reader, the writer must use facts, logic, expert opinion, and reasoning. A counterargument is present in the essay as well and it is the writer’s duty to debunk it.

Editors are people who look at your essay after you’re finished writing. They check for any errors and read it as if they were admitting you. They will give you tips on how to improve your essay and help you turn it into perfection. The cost of service varies on the length of your essay, the category of your work, and how quickly you want it to be completed. You also have to be wary, as many institutions now ask you to sign a statement weaving that the essay submitted is their own, according to the College Board report “Admissions Decision Making Models.”

The deadline for a regular decision institution essay ranges from January 1st to February 1st. Therefore it’s better to start writing your essays early. Writing from the heart takes time and dedication, so don’t wait until the last minute to start your college essay. It will take a lot of drafts and revisions. Start with a personal statement, a sentence that grasps the reader’s attention and makes them want to read more. Apply sensory details to engage the reader and make them see it from your point of view. This point should connect to the rest of your essay, about what the experience has taught you, how it helped you grow, and how it shaped you as a person.

Most essays use a word limit. The shortest is usually around 200 words, and very rarely goes above 600 words. Staying within the range is essential. It is recommended to stay within 50 words below the limit. The Common Application is also very often used when applying. It requires only a single form which nearly 700 institutions accept. Using this method, you will have 250-650 words to respond to one of these prompts:

  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 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?

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

  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, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

  6. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. 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?

  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.

Unique themes for prompt seven could include telling them about something you are passionate about. There are even essays surfacing about Costco or a random object in the writers’ room! Remember that these essays are supposed to be about who you are, so there really is no limit! If you just shoot for the stars and write about something important to you, you’ll be accepted into your dream college in no time.

Essay Examples:

John Hopkins University, "Essays That Worked"

The Crimson Brand Studio, "10 Successful Harvard Application Essays 2019"

Common App Essay Examples