Prepping for the College Application, June 28

The College Essay Confidante is bringing a panel of experts to Westford, Massachusetts, for high school rising seniors.

The event, “Prepping for the College Application,” will take place on Wednesday, June 28, 7 to 9 p.m. at the J.V. Fletcher Library, 50 Main St., Westford.

The panel includes: Director of College Planning Julie Shields-Rutyna, Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, Westford School Department Guidance Coordinator 6-12 Wendy Pechacek, and College Essay Confidante Joyce Pellino Crane.

Admission is free! More information to follow.

Ask questions in person or email them in advance to:

Two new prompts for the college essay

The Common Application has added two new prompts for the 2017-18 school year from which students can choose for their college essays. The maximum word count remains at 650.

“The goal of these revisions is to help all applicants, regardless of background or access to counseling, see themselves and their stories within the prompts. They are designed to invite unencumbered discussions of character and community, identity, and aspiration. To this end, we will be creating new educational resources to help students both understand and approach the opportunities the essay presents for them.

2017-2018 Common Application Essay Prompts

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. [No change]

2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? [Revised]

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? [Revised]

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. [No change]

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. [Revised]

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? [New]

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. [New]”

Source: The Common Application

If you’d like help brainstorming and refining your college application essay, contact the College Essay Confidante at

Why the college essay matters

The college essay gives you an opportunity to tell a college admissions officer what makes you unique and genuine. It gives you a chance to illustrate what gifts, talents, or specialties you can offer. Sometimes that quality is as simple as a good character or the ability to persevere. Other times it might be that you’ve overcome a significant challenge in your life.

The trick is to reach inside yourself, find a topic and write about it in a compelling style. The best way to do this is to think deeply through brainstorming and writing exercises, read sample essays, and give yourself enough time to revise, revise, revise.