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Pamela K. Pik College Consulting, LLC

5 New College Essay Prompts on the 2013-2014 Common Application

2013 - 2014 College Common Application Essay Prompts

The Common Application has recently introduced “CA4”, the next generation of the Common App., which will be available online this summer.  Most of the changes relate to the essays and individual colleges’ supplements.  There are five new essay prompts. Current juniors who will apply to Common App. colleges in the fall will choose one of these prompts.

There is no “topic of your choice”, as in the previous group of prompts, but I think students will find something here that they can relate to and use as a launching point for their essay.  Personally, I am excited to work with students on their essays.

Additionally, the word limit has grown from 500 words to 650 words.  It will be strictly enforced, whereas the 500-word limit was more of a guideline, with many students going over.  This essay cannot be shorter than 250 words.


  • Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it.  If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • Recount an incident where you experienced failure.  How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
  • Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea.  What prompted you to act?  Would you make the same decision again?
  • Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content.  What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
  • Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community or family.

If your student is currently a junior, it is not too early to start thinking about choosing one of these prompts, and outlining an essay.  If he or she feels paralyzed about beginning the process, I suggest starting out with two topics, writing two drafts, and then eventually choosing the one that feels best-written and closest to an honest portrayal.

Still stuck?  Contact me, a college consultant in Connecticut; I have some tools for getting the writing process started.