common app eassay

Prompt: 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?

What is the prompt asking?

This prompt is asking you to describe something that you’re intellectually passionate about. You need to describe your fascination or attachment to a topic, idea, or concept and the reasons behind. You will also need to explain what you have done in increasing your knowledge in that topic and how you did it. Did you study more than beyond your curriculum to know about the topic of your interest? What other things you did in order to quench your thirst in that topic? The prompt wants you to reveal how focused and dedicated you are in area of your interest.

What do the colleges want to know through this prompt?

Colleges want to admit students who have an attachment to an intellectual area. They want to check whether you have a genuine desire to learn or not. Colleges also want to check how motivated and resourceful you are from your answer on how you have learned more about your chosen topic, concept or idea. Colleges do not want ‘jack of all trades, but master of one’. They want their students to be well rounded, but together want to see them dedicated to a field. 

What kind of topics can be included?

Any topic you are really interested in and passionate about could make a good essay here, but it needs to have intellectuality connected with it, and it should demonstrate that you have rose from your level in order to learn further more about the topic.

It is fine to say that the topic that you are most interested in is the game of Crossword puzzle, but talk in an academic sense about what has dragged you to the game. Have you learned everything about the game? How good are you at solving the puzzles? What do you do in order to learn more about the solving techniques? Put a special focus on how the topic of your interest engages you. 

What should you avoid?

Pick the topic that really captivates you, not the one that you think would sound catchy and would aid in the application. If you mention in the essay that you love cosmology even when you don’t, your lack of enthusiasm and interest will come through in the essay in one way or other. In such situation, you might not be able to connect between facts and events throughout the essay, or at least they will be unnatural. You should avoid fiction in such essays.


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