Don't Let Your Teen’s Essay Become a Dud: Prompts to Avoid in the College Application Scramble

As a parent of a high school senior, you know the college application process can be a whirlwind. It's easy to feel overwhelmed between transcripts, test scores, and extracurricular activities. But there's one area where your teen has significant control: the essay. 


The college essay is their chance to shine, to tell their unique story and showcase their personality beyond numbers on a page. However, with so many prompts available, choosing the right one can be tricky. 

Here at Strategic Admissions Advice, we've helped countless students craft compelling essays that make them stand out. Today, we'll discuss three essay prompts to avoid and offer some guidance for a successful application.


The Deceptively Simple Prompt:

The Common Application often starts with a prompt that seems straightforward: "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." 


While this prompt offers flexibility, it can be a trap.  Students often latch onto the first idea that comes to mind, leading to generic essays that blend into a sea of similar stories. Remember, colleges want to see what makes your teen truly unique.  


The Challenge of Overcoming Obstacles:

Another popular prompt asks students to recount a time they faced a challenge, setback, or failure. This can be a great opportunity to showcase resilience and growth. However, many students end up focusing on negative experiences, dwelling on failures rather than highlighting their accomplishments.  


The college application process is already stressful.  Why encourage your teen to relive difficult moments? There are better ways to demonstrate their ability to overcome obstacles and achieve success. 


Write Whatever You Want

The final "catch-all" prompt allows students to write about any topic they choose.  While this seemingly offers freedom, it can lead to unfocused essays that need more direction. With a clear prompt, students might be able to craft a cohesive narrative that showcases their strengths.


Charting a Course for Success:

So, what should you do?  First, encourage your teen to explore all the essay prompts available, not just the first few they see.  Discuss each prompt together, brainstorming potential topics that highlight their personality, passions, and accomplishments. 


Strategic Admissions Advice offers a Free Discovery Call where we can help you and your teen navigate the essay writing process.  We'll provide guidance on choosing the right prompt, brainstorming strong topics, and crafting a compelling narrative that will grab the attention of admissions officers. 


Don't let your teen's essay become a lost opportunity.  Schedule your Free Discovery Call today and take control of this crucial part of the college application journey!

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