471 0 0 0 16 9. The 2016-17 Common Application platform went live last week, and in the ensuing weeks you will undoubtedly read a lot stanford undergraduate essay prompts the Common App’s personal essay.
You will read about essays that worked and didn’t work. I’ll say it again: The prompts don’t matter. The admissions essay’s true purpose is to tell admissions officers something they don’t know about you and that isn’t represented anywhere else on the application. The essay should aim to reveal something about your true passions, interests, and goals while giving a taste of your personality. Reading your essay should give admissions officers insight into what it would be like to have a conversation with you. While an essay prompt can serve as an inspirational launch point for a brilliant topic or story idea, over the years I have found many students get too caught up in trying to decide which prompt to tackle before they even understand which of their stories and characteristics they want to put on display.
Decide what meal you are going to serve admissions first. What, of the many things you have to offer, will be the most satisfying tidbit you can lay down in front of someone who wants to know you better? Take a cursory look at the Common Application’s essay prompts to get generally acquainted with them. Okay, just for a while, but still: say goodbye. Collect your best stories and ruminate on your defining characteristics.