While other essays might allow you to introduce and dismiss a failure in a pair of sentences, this topic asks you to make it the launching point for your essay. Describe why you consider the event a failure. Identify the challenges that you encountered and the feelings that developed in response to those challenges. Words of Caution Before we go any further, we need to address some common pitfalls you should avoid while brainstorming.
The first major mistake you can make is forgetting the prompt, which is easier to do than it sounds. This is understandable, since once you become embroiled in writing a word incisive description of yourself, details can fall to the wayside.
In other words, the moral of your essay cannot simply be that your failure was fundamental to a later success—this will impress no one. Your insight must go beyond this, focusing—as the prompt suggests—on a lesson you learned from your mistake. If you choose, you can take issue with the opening statement itself, perhaps using the lesson you learned to emend it. If you come to a conclusion by the end of your essay that a supposed failure was actually a success in and of itself, and you want to argue that there is no such thing as a failure at all, that is acceptable.
Step 1: Brainstorm The first step to writing any good personal essay is to put some serious thought into what you will write, and the best way to do this is to force yourself to come up with a handful of possible essay topics.
Brainstorming is a great way to ease into starting an essay , because it can be as casual as you want. Sit down with a fresh notepad or new Word document and start jotting down some notes. The point here is to simply get yourself thinking—save the nuances of language and niceties of commas for steps 4 and 5.
Still just a bit daunted? It should also serve as a reminder that you are allowed—and even encouraged—to take a creative approach to answering this question and any other on the Common App. Alternatively, can you think of any successes that you are particularly proud of?
Why do you consider them successes, and why are you proud of them? What failures can you think of that led up to this particular success?
Did those failures hamper or aid you in reaching your ultimate achievement? Do you have any as-yet-unrealized goals or successes?
What are they, and why do you strive for these things? Let's break it down into four parts: The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. This text was added to the prompt in and revised again in We can conclude from this addition that the colleges and universities that use the Common Application really want you to show how your encounter with an obstacle fits into the big picture of your personal growth and later accomplishments more on this in the fourth bullet point below.
Recount an incident or time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. This is the exposition of your essay -- the description of the challenge or failure that you are going to analyze.
Keep in mind that the action requested here -- "recount" -- is the easy part of your essay. Recounting doesn't require a lot of high-level thinking. This is the plot summary. You'll need clear, engaging language, but you want to make sure you do the "recounting" as efficiently as possible.
The real meat of your essay that is going to impress the admissions officers comes later. How did it affect you? This is the second most important part of your essay.
You struggled with something, so how did you respond? What emotions did failure evoke? Were you frustrated? Did you want to give up or did the setback motivate you? Were you angry at yourself or did you project blame onto someone else?
Were you surprised by your failure? Was this a new experience for you? Be honest as you assess your reaction to the obstacle you encountered. Even if you were affected in a way that now seems inappropriate or an over-reaction, don't hold back as you explore the way that failure affected you.
What did you learn from the experience? This is the heart of your essay, so make sure you give this part of the question significant emphasis.
How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn? Again, I have highlighted the key words that help give us some guideposts on how to address this prompt. Thus you will again tell a story to your reader. It should be a very succinct story, but it should have a beginning, middle, and an end. You want to give enough detail that your reader can follow the narrative, but not so long that you get boring—or worse, go over the word count limit.
More College Essay Topics Individual schools sometimes require supplemental essays. Your answer to this question could focus on a time you stood up to others or an experience when your own preconceived view was challenged. Your essay needs to show why that's you, why you're different, and what you can offer. A geographical challenge such as living in a remote location with limited opportunities for ambitious students.
That said, know yourself. Remember: you need to stand out, not blend in. But somehow we'd almost scraped through the first round of playoffs, with only one game standing between us and semifinals. This should be your last step, because your limited space should not be a factor in your decision to include or exclude important aspects of your story or explanations about yourself.
They do not need to be polished. Demand attention. Did you want to give up or did the setback motivate you? This is the second most important part of your essay.
Use the college's website and literature to do your research about programs, professors, and other opportunities that appeal to you. Just let the words flow onto the paper and spill your guts. Pick the prompt that appeals most to you and start writing! By submitting my email address. Be honest and specific when you respond to this question.
Prompt 6: What captivates you?