wordguild

Ladies and Gentleman: Start Your Essays. The Prompts for 2019-2020 are Rolling Out.

In 2019-2020 College Application Essays, College Application Essays on June 24, 2019 at 9:56 pm

Below is a list of Prompts Available as of mid-June, 2019, with Links to the Full Prompts and Tips On Writing the Essays. This includes the Common Application prompts, The Coalition Application Prompts, Stanford’s Supplemental Essays, which I have confirmed for this year, and a range of other schools that are ready to write, right now, from U Texas to Chicago to Georgia Tech and Urbanan Champaign to . . . read on and see.

First, a warning: The prompts I confirm below are ready, but most of the prompts currently posted on college admissions pages are from last year, including the Ivy League prompts posted as of the last week of June. So aside from the important prompts I link in this post, you cannot count on unverified prompts remaining the same. Furthermore, any information you put up on the Common Application will be deleted when they take the site offline at the end of July before bringing it back up on or about August 1st. But fear not–if you are ready to starting writing, you will find plenty to do in the prompts that I link here.

With that, Here They Are–

2019-2020 College Application Essay Prompts: Ready to Write, Right Now

Stanford University–Same prompts as last year. It’s been a decade since Stanford did anything serious with their supplemental essays. The short answers they do tinker with year-to-year. Here are your Stanford Supplementals for 2019-2020

The University of Texas, Austin–definitely some changes from last year, the new prompts confirmed by a posting for counselors. UT uses its own Texas portal. Prompts for 2019-2020 U Texas linked Here.

The University of Virginia–up on their website as “they turn their attention” from those who have accepted to “current juniors,” known at this point as rising seniors. Congratulations, by the way, Rising Seniors. Uses the Common Application Portal. Click to check it out: UV prompts for 2019-2020 linked Here.

The University of Chicago--continues to offer a menu of wild and whacky essay prompts for your second essay; the first essay is a pretty standard-issue why you want to go to school x essay. Uses the Common Application Portal. I analyze their two supplemental essays in separate links:

Click here for: University of Chicago Prompt 1, 2019-2020

Click here for: University of Chicago Prompt 2, 2019-2020

The University of California–confirmed in their admissions packet for counselors for 2019-2020. Uses its own UC portal, accessing all 8 UC campuses with one application. UC Prompts linked Here.

Harvey Mudd College–HMC’s counselors went on their annual retreat in the second week of June and came back confirming that the prompts currently posted will remain unchanged. Uses the Common Application portal as well as the Coalition Application. HMC Prompts Linked Here.

Georgia Tech--confirmed by my contact counselor at GT, with the caveat that they may tinker in a minor way with wording. Uses the Common Application portal. I start my analysis of GT’s prompts featuring an interview with G.T.’s excellent Dean of Admissions, Rick Scott. GT Prompts and Rick Scott interview linked Here.

The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign–confirmed by two counseling contacts at U-C. University of Illinois campuses uses its own application portal. Urbana-Champaign Prompts linked Here.

The Common Application Essay Prompts are unchanged for 2019-2020. Common Application Prompts Linked Here.

2019-2020 Coalition Application Essay Prompts–If you are not familiar with the Coalition Application, it is a competitor to the Common Application. Universities tend to offer both when they do use the Coalition Application portal, so it is worth looking at the Coalition essay prompts to see if they allow you to better leverage your topic ideas (usually looking for less overlap between essays). The Coalition Essay Prompts are linked Here, along with a comparison of the two sites.

Welcome to the Jungle

In college admissions, college application, college essay, common application, personal statement, university application information on August 30, 2011 at 10:29 pm

College Advising and Essay Development for the Class of 2023, from Singapore to Palo Alto.

The College App Jungle is my blog devoted to the  world of college applications.  The pursuit of college admissions can seem increasingly Darwinian, but my hope is that this blog will provide you with the context and means to have a fulfilling and successful transition into college.   A clickable table of contents for a selection of popular topics can be found below.

You can also visit my business portal at: UniversityGatesAdvising to quickly review some basic information on the college application scene (like the sometimes odd terminology used in admissions) and to see client testimonials.  Contact Me for advising and Editing–my essay development and editing is the best in the business.

College App Jungle Contents and Links

The Secret of College Admissions:  How College Applications Are Evaluated

Common Application Essay Prompts for 2019-2020

(Warning:  do not set up your Common App account before it shuts down and reopens on or about August 1. Any data entered before they roll out this year’s portal will be deleted.  Go ahead and write the essays on your favorite word processor, but all existing Common App accounts will be deleted at the end of July, as they change over to this year’s application cycle.)

Ivy League and Stanford Essays–Look for me to update this in July and early August.  Most will see only minor tinkering, but I advise that you hold off on formal writing until I update the prompts.

Yale for 2018-2019

U Penn for 2018-2019

Dartmouth for 2018-2019

Stanford

The Stanford Supplemental Essay Prompts (These have  been relatively unchanged for years and most of this post still applies)

More on the Stanford Supplement Prompts

University of Chicago

I have a soft spot for The University of Chicago Essay Prompts, because they are often so brazenly weird and even when they seem a little too-cute pretentious, they are interesting. Chicago requires two supplemental essays. 

Click to learn:

How to Write the Chicago Supplemental Essay One for 2019-2020 

How to Write the University of Chicago Essay Two (the interesting prompt) for 2019-2020

Chicago Prompts for 2018-2019, and The Chicago Application Essay Quote Prompts for 2018-2019. Or just click below for old prompts that you may still write about:

Some other topics of interest for Chicago and others:

Writing About Books- Part 2 (2011)

How to Persuade: The Rhetorical Situation

College Application Trends, Statistics and Advice

Ivy League Admissions Data for 2019-2020–See the most recent data available on admissions and how early applications impacts admissions chances

Advice on the College Application Rat Race

Researching And Selecting Colleges:  Go West, Young Person–an old post, but still so true, for those looking to get great bang for their tuition buck, particularly if you live in the Western United States.

College Application Success:  The Seven Rules–timeless advice on how the system works

The above is not a comprehensive list of posts but gives you a representative sample.  You may browse further using the Archive link.  

In the twenty years that I have been helping students navigate the application and essay process, the essay itself has become much more important. The reasons are clear. Over the last decade, we have seen increasing numbers of qualified high school students face decreasing numbers of seats available in our universities.

The facts are stark–educators across the country have faced funding cuts that predate the Great Recession, and the ivied walls of academia are no longer impregnable to assault.  Pair that with the awareness that an education at a good college is increasingly a bottom line item for a decent job and quality of life, and you have a supply and demand problem:  If you present a 4.0 GPA to most competitive universities, you are essentially in the middle of the pack.  The result:  your application essays can be vital to your chance of being admitted.  But I have to add something here: it is as bad as it looks if you apply to the same 12-15 colleges that everybody else applies to, but once you widen your list a bit, it looks much better.  See below for links related to statistics and to finding more options than the Ivies, Stanford, Cal and whatever two or three regional favorites dominate the application lists in your area.

The information available on this blog is for the free use of college applicants and essay writers.  Use it to help you get started before you send your work to me.  Topics range from general discussions about the craft of writing to specific discussion of college essay topics and the changing world of college applications. I also review trends in admissions and changes occurring in the world of academia.

The contents of this blog are intended for the use of college applicants and their parents to assist them in the college application process and in developing quality application essays. Please refrain from using this blog for your own commercial purposes. If you wish to duplicate any of this information, please contact me to explain and request the right to do so.  Full access to sample content is available via a subscription.  Contact me to subscribe.

How to Write the Stanford University Application Essay Prompts for 2019-2020: Ready or Not, Here They Are–

In Essay About a Problem, Problem Essay, Stanford Application, Stanford Application Essays on June 22, 2019 at 9:25 am

Who should read this post: Anybody who is applying to Stanford in 2019-2020, with a bonus focus on the Problem Essay which appears in multiple Ivy League and other elite college applications.

I confirmed with Stanford yesterday that they will be using the same essay prompts as last year. In addition to the three, 250-word supplemental essays, Stanford features a series of short answers, which I will also discuss below. In addition, I will offer a preliminary comparison of selected essay prompts from elite schools to suggest how you can begin reusing essays in whole or part–or reusing ideas. Here are the Stanford supplemental essays for this year:

Stanford Short Essay Questions for 2019-2020

Please write a short essay in response to each of the below three essay topics. There is a 100-word minimum and a 250-word maximum for each essay.

  1. The Stanford community is deeply curious and driven to learn in and out of the classroom. Reflect on an idea or experience that makes you genuinely excited about learning.
  2. Virtually all of Stanford’s undergraduates live on campus. Write a note to your future roommate that reveals something about you or that will help your roommate—and us—know you better.
  3. Tell us about something that is meaningful to you, and why.

The first thing that I would point out is that these prompts have not really changed for years. To see what I mean, take a look at the Stanford shorts from seven years ago: Stanford Short Essays, 2012-2013.

This year’s “deeply curious” prompt 1 was in 2012 the prompt 1 “intellectual vitality” prompt, which asked for an idea or experience that fascinated you. The only real difference is in the wording. The roommate question has remained basically the same for a decade, and the only change in prompt 3 has been to alter “what matters to you” to “something that is meaningful to you.” With that in mind, let me suggest that you read all of that post to the 2012-2013 prompt that I link above. Most of what I say there still applies.

I have another analysis of the Stanford prompts in the next link; scroll down this linked post to see additional links to ideas for approaching these prompts, including writing about intellectual interests: Stanford. But keep in mind that constrained, 250-word limit.

So little change over so much time–What does this mean? It means that Stanford feels it has found the best essay prompts possible. But I think it is also tied to the length of the Stanford essays. Having assisted with editing these for the last twenty years, I can say that this is a truly fiendish wordcount–just long enough to be an essay, but too short to allow for anything extraneous. Getting a good Stanford essay down to 250 words can be a hellish exercise in compressing meaning through changes in word choice and syntax pruning. Or just cutting a paragraph you thought was great but which is not necessary, comparatively speaking. In short, you can write an essay with a clear, bright “flavor” but not many layers. I add that the short essay and short answer prompts together do force you to respond in a personal way.

Speaking of short answers, in addition to the three, 250-word essays, Stanford also has a series of short responses most with a 50-word limit. Here is last year’s Stanford short answers, with word counts:

1) What is the most significant challenge that society faces today? (50 word limit)

2) How did you spend your last two summers? (50 word limit)

3) What historical moment or event do you wish you could have witnessed? (50 word limit

4) What five words best describe you? (Max 10 words [!])

5) When the choice is yours, what do you read, listen to, or watch? (50 word limit)

6) Name one thing you are looking forward to experiencing at Stanford. (50 word limit)

7) Imagine you had an extra hour in the day — how would you spend that time? (50 word limit).

8) Briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (50-150 words)

For this post, I am going to limit myself to looking at short response #1. Here’s why: a number of elite colleges will use longer essay prompts this year that allow you to focus on a problem you’d like to solve, or help solve, or that just concerns you. I address this basic kind of question under the idea of the “problem essay” which I have discussed in multiple posts in the past, and will be writing about again soon. Here is an earlier example: Writing the Problem Essay. Think of this short response as a chance to come up with a great hook for an essay of 300-500 words. If your Stanford 50-word response is well done, use it as the opener for a longer essay on another elite college application. Nothing wrong with doubling down, with one caveat–Turnitin.com will find it. But borrowing from yourself is not a crime, and I assume you will write a great essay that develops from that hook–which itself can also be expanded as you fit it to a different word count.

As I write this, I still await confirmation on Ivy League prompts, but from last year, here are some examples that tie in with the problem essay topic:

Dartmouth, 2018-2019

  • In the aftermath of World War II, Dartmouth President John Sloane Dickey, Class of 1929, proclaimed, “The world’s troubles are your troubles…and there is nothing wrong with the world that better human beings cannot fix.” Which of the world’s “troubles” inspires you to act? How might your course of study at Dartmouth prepare you to address it?

Georgetown, Walsh School of Foreign Service Question, 2018-2019

APPLICANTS TO THE WALSH SCHOOL OF FOREIGN SERVICE: Briefly discuss a current global issue, indicating why you consider it important and what you suggest should be done to deal with it.

While Princeton in 2018-2019 defines its problem essay as a social essay:

  • “One of the great challenges of our time is that the disparities we face today have more complex causes and point less straightforwardly to solutions.” Omar Wasow, assistant professor of politics, Princeton University; founder of Blackplanet.com. This quote is taken from Professor Wasow’s January 2014 speech at the Martin Luther King Day celebration at Princeton University.

Keep in mind that some of these prompts I list just above may change this year, but on the other hand, most won’t, and you can get started on a problem essay by writing a nice, 50-word definition that has plenty of “hook.” Also be aware that many colleges are using Turnitin.com and will notice not that you are plagiarizing but that you are reusing essays. This could impact how the view your Demonstrated Interest or Interest Quotient. More on that later.

That’s it for now. Among other things I will be posting about how to write a problem essay soon, so come back for that, if it applies. In the meantime, start writing your 250-word essays.