2015-2016 Essay Prompts

We are pleased to share the 2015-2016 Essay Prompts with you. New language appears in italics:

  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 failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  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 or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

The changes you see reflect the feedback and consensus of nearly 6000 individuals who responded to our recent survey. Among the survey highlights:

  • 197 individual Member responses representing 110 Member institutions
  • 5667 constituent responses (64% school counselors; 14% students; 11% independent educational consultants; 4% parents; 2% community based organizations; remainder = other)
  • 82% of Members and 90% of constituents agree or strongly agree that the current prompts generate effective essays on the whole
  • 62% of Members and 48% of constituents believe the “story/background” prompt is the most effective
  • 76% of Members and 44% of constituents would like to see the “place where you’re content” prompt replaced
  • 35% of Members and 30% of constituents feel that analytical ability and intellectual curiosity (as a combined percentage) are most the difficult attributes to convey through the current prompts
  • 85% of Members and 82% of constituents feel the prompts should be left open to broad interpretation
  • 3% of Member respondents suggested Topic of Your Choice as a new prompt
  • 6% of constituent respondents suggested Topic of Your Choice as a new prompt, with the breakdown as follows: independent educational consultants (47%), community-based organizations (7%), school counselors (5%), parents (2%), other (2%), students (<1%)

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