College Application Essay Prompts: 2023-2024

by Gail Kerzner | Jul 17, 2023 | Tips and TricksCommon App and Coalition App Essay Prompts

August is a key month in the college planning process for incoming high school seniors. If you have offspring that age, you might have spent some time this summer visiting college campuses, or maybe you did virtual visits. Perhaps the college visit list has evolved into the college application list, which means students are ready to explore which application platform they might use to submit their materials. So, the next step in this process is to become familiar with the college application essay prompts students need to base their all-important essays on. August 1st officially opens the submission period, so now is the time to begin weighing the options to determine which prompt will allow you (or your student) to showcase your talents and promise to the admissions board.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the information presented in these essay prompts, so I’ve created a “cliff-notes” version that will help you get to the heart of what each prompt is looking for.

The Common App 2023-2024 Essay Prompts

Common App Logo

The Common App remains the most popular college application platform and is accepted by more than 1,000 U.S. colleges and universities. These essay prompts are a diverse set of questions, which allows students to hone in and find one that resonates with them.

Abbreviated Version

  1. Unique background, identity, interest, or talent
  2. Lessons learned from an obstacle, challenge, setback, or failure
  3. Questioning a belief or idea
  4. Description of act of gratitude and influence
  5. Personal growth from an accomplishment, event, or realization
  6. Passion for a captivating topic, idea, or concept
  7. Topic of choice

The Complete Verbiage

  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. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  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?
  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.

So many choices, so much to ponder. The good news is a student only needs to choose one prompt per application. The challenge is to pick the one that provides the most intriguing, memorable story that will create a lasting impression in the minds of the admissions board.

Happy writing!


About the Author:

Hi! My name is Gail, and I’m The Savvy Red Pen.

I’m thrilled you’re here. I created The Savvy Red Pen to help writers craft their words, find their voice, and share their unique stories with their readers. The world needs you and your story. I’m dedicated to helping you achieve your writing dreams. I can’t wait to see your vision take shape. Let’s make an impact together.

Are you gearing up to tackle a stack of college applications but are stuck on creating your starworthy college admissions essay? The Savvy Red Pen offers a full line of student services to guide you along the way. Contact us today to see how we can help!