The Common Application essay fills college-bound students with dread. High stakes mean that students are eager, or even desperate, to get it right. They spend a ton of time deciding which of the five essay prompts to answer. This time is wasted. Why? As explained in the Huffington Post article I co-authored with Ishan Puri of Syndocate, anything a student may wish to write fits under the broad umbrella of Prompt #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."
Our advice is to worry less about which prompt to pick and devote full attention to what really matters, which is finding a personal quality about which to write and creating a narrative that brings to life that quality.