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

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

Below is a list of Prompts Available as of mid-July, 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. And for World Class Essay Development and Editing Support: Contact Me.

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 any serious tinkering with their supplemental essays. The short answers they do tinker with year-to-year. Here are your Stanford Supplementals for 2019-2020

And Here is A Discussion of The Stanford Roommate Essay

Also see my next post, Welcome to the Jungle, for more on the Stanford essays.

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.

Boston College Essay Prompts–and How to Write Them–Linked Here: BC 2020. This includes an extended discussion on writing about a book or work of art, as well as themes for Catholic and specifically Jesuit universities like B.C. and Georgetown.

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. Again, see my Welcome to the Jungle Post for links to the Common App and its Prompts

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.

Go to the next post for more links-Welcome to the Jungle.

And Contact Me for World-Class Application Essay Development and Editing and Focused, Results-Oriented College Application Advising: Contact Me.

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 College Class of 2024, 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.

Contact Me for college advising and help with application essays–my essay development and editing service is the best in the business.

Links to Key Contents and Application Success:

The Secret of College Admissions:  How College Applications Are Evaluated

The Common Application

Common Application Essay Prompts for 2019-2020

Common Application Portal

(Warning:  do not set up your Common App account before it reopens on or about August 1–most of the Common App site will go offline at the end of July, and any data entered before they roll out this year’s portal on or around August 1st will be deleted.  Go ahead and write the essays on your favorite word processor, but don’t upload them until August.)

Stanford Essays–

Click here for: The Stanford Roommate Letter (Essay) for 2019-2020

Click here for: the Stanford Intellectual Curiosity essay–my first post on this for 2019-2020 is combined with the parallel essay prompt for Brown University.

Click here for: The Stanford Supplemental Essay Prompts (These have  been relatively unchanged for years and the 250-word supplemental essays will remain the same for 2020)

More on the Stanford Supplement Prompts

Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Yale, UPenn, Columbia–still waiting for them to confirm prompts for 2019-2020. Here are a couple of last year’s prompts–food for thought, but do not write them until they go live–

Yale for 2018-2019

U Penn for 2018-2019

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. Essays and supplementals are key to distinguishing your application from the 100,000 plus that will go to the top two UC’s this year, and the tens of thousands to each of the Ivy League schools.

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.

The 2019-2020 Brown University Application Essay Prompts for 2019-2020 are Up and Ready to Write–Read on for Tips on How to Create a Winning Essay, With a Bonus Look at the Stanford “Curiosity” Essay

In Brown University Application Essay, Why Brown on July 12, 2019 at 5:15 pm

Brown University prompts for 2019-2020 are available as of . . . now. For those of you wanting to do an East Coast/West Coast Split, you will be pleased to find that you will be able to modify a Stanford essay a bit and use it on your Brown application (or vice-versa) and you will also find that all three of Brown’s questions have overlap with essays for other, elite universities. Before I explain further, here are the Brown University essay prompts for 2019-2020:

Brown Essays

First Year applicants to Brown are asked to answer three supplemental essay questions, which are provided below if you would like to begin work on your essays now.

  1. Brown’s Open Curriculum allows students to explore broadly while also diving deeply into their academic pursuits. Tell us about an academic interest (or interests) that excites you, and how you might use the Open Curriculum to pursue it. (250 words)
  2. At Brown, you will learn as much from your peers outside the classroom as in academic spaces. How will you contribute to the Brown community? (250 words)
  3. Tell us about a place or community you call home. How has it shaped your perspective? (250 words)

This post will focus primarily on Brown’s Prompt 1; I will look at Prompts 2 and 3 in later posts, and also compmare the Brown prompts to other college admissions prompts–finding ways to reuse ideas is a key concept if you are doing ten or more applications.

Let’s start by comparing Brown’s prompt 1 to Stanford’s Prompt 1 and look at the two-birds-with-one-stone approach to writing application essays:

  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.

The key difference between Brown’s prompt and Stanford’s prompt is in the wrinkle that Brown wants you to discuss the Open Curriculum as you address the question. So in addition to defining an area of intellectual interest, there is a secondary need to do some research on the Open Curriculum, which you can start now by introducing yourself to the Open Curriculum: About Brown’s Open Curriculum.

You will want to do more research on the Open Curriculum after you define your area of interest for this essay, as you explore concentration areas, classes and even professors that you could tap via both your main area of study and the Open Curriculum; you will want to be able to name-drop class names, professors, and general ed subjects based on the passion you define in the essay. This will require an hour or two or research to do well, and it may boil down to a couple of sentences or a paragraph in an essay of this length–but if you want the admit, it is worth doing.

Brown Essay for Prompt 1–Structure and Getting Started

I would recommend an essay structure that starts with your academic interest(s), then concludes with specific aspects of Brown and its Open Curriculum–though the essay does not need to be evenly divided between the two.

The next thing to consider would be what definitely piques your interest, and with only 250 words, you want either a single subject that is a passion (and that should probably be related to your application spike–the area of interest or passion that sets you apart and that hopefully also ties in with your prospective major), or you want two or three things that you can quickly define and tie together easily–the key is to create a “box” of clearly related ideas and activities, not to create a laundry-list of things you do. Let your activities take care of the range of your interests. This essay should focus on one area of interest that is particularly important to you.

Starting the Essay–

There are many ways to do this. With an essay this short, however, you should probably not use, or else seriously truncate, the dramatic narrative hook and opener that so many students use. You know the essay I am talking about–it starts with the you-are-there moment in present tense that is heavy on sensory detail and drama. This opener is used (very, very) often in college essays, because it is used (very, very) often in high school essays, which is one problem–it’s pretty much a cliche–but problem number two is that it also takes a lot of space. And 250 words does not allow a lot of space. 250 words suggests a more expository opener. (Oh, and before we look at some examples, a warning about one other opening strategy: if you are going to use a question as a hook, make it a really good one. Starting essays with questions or quotes is an overused strategy and quite often the questions asked are overly obvious or not well connected to the topic (except for those prompts that use a quote, or ask you to use one).

Example Hooks and Introductions

You could open up with a simple statement, and I will give you a few examples on the same subject:

Example 1

Saturday morning is when I catch up on sleep; Saturday afternoon is when I take my fully-charged and well-rested brain out to the garage, where, on a bench of three-quarter inch plywood, you will find my prototype for a fusion reactor.

(Before you laugh at my opener, I had a client a few year’s back who was involved with the DIY fusion reactor movement. No joke. He’d run the thing a few times and had some results though, of course, no true cold fusion. Nobody has done that.)

Most kids are into superheroes and dream of gaining some superpower and saving the world someday. And most kids give up those dreams. I have not. My dream of saving the world is taking shape in my garage. My dream takes the physical form of a heavy, steel case protruding wires–this is my fusion reactor prototype.

(I am using the subject a former client used, but I am not using his language; the examples are mine, meant to show a couple of ways to use a more expository opener that does not waste words with much scene-setting but that still allows a nice hook)

Notice how both descriptions do set the scene and provide a hook, and notice how the subject does a lot of work for you: the project itself sets up a focus on science and engineering, which can be developed through quick references to classes, to research done and contacts made in the course of constructing the reactor prototype–in the case of this essay, the student had done enough sincere work that he got the attention of a Berkeley nuclear engineering professor, who gave him some advice that he could cite. So he used the process of building this device as a way to pull in things he’d done that were not activities per se, but that could be used here to show his academic/intellectual curiosity.

It’s not likely that you, my reader, are building a fusion prototype, but if you do have some kind of project or relatable set of activities, driven by a clear central interest, use that for your essay. You could simply like books, for example, as I do, and talk about books as a kind of wormhole; each time you open a good book, you are opening a door into a new universe, a parallel dimension of an alternate mind . . . notice how even the common book becomes an object of passion and interest, both of which will make your essay stand out. Walking into Moe’s Books in Berkeley, for example, and sampling the shelves is like a combination of time and space travel . . . notice that this paragraph also offers another idea for a hook and intro, on a seemingly mundane topic made dramatic by a personal passion for it.

Returning to our fusion reactor essay, I suggested that the author dial back his enthusiasm and his claims a bit–there are plenty of folks doing fusion projects at home (again, not kidding about that) and some are pretty nutty, so I suggested that my client recognize that he was engaging in an experiment that was about personal development more than it was about realistically achieving cold fusion, and after looking at some of the stuff my client wanted to include, I had him delete a reference to a (very) eccentric fellow who had offered some advice; in the end, this applicant described how he became interested in this project (carbon-free energy=saving the planet) and he used only one specific reference, to that Berkeley prof who offered him some feedback on his experimental “reactor.” Ultimately, this essay worked in the sense that this applicant was admitted to UT Austin and Purdue. (Final word on this: if cold fusion piques your interest, read on for more: Cold Fusion DIY.)

Returning to this academic/intellectual essay as a problem: once you have defined an area of interest, written a hook and intro, and then described your interest(s) in the body of the essay, you are done . . . . for Stanford. But I would suggest that it would be a good idea to do some research on courses and profs at Stanford as well; name-dropping a program/class of interest (or two) at Stanford is always a good way to support that Demonstrated Interest, by showing that you know who, what and therefore why you are applying.

For Brown, you definitely need to do more, so it’s back to that Open Curriculum for a bit more research–no footnotes needed. Here is another link (no video testimonials, this time) for Brown’s Open Curriculum, giving some background on it: Background on the Open Curriculum. You want to look at courses that make up this liberal-studies program to see if any appeal, then select those that somehow overlap with your interests.

And I also suggest you look at this informative discussion of the Open Curriculum on Quora: How Open is Brown’s Open Curriculum?

If our friend, the fusion reactor inventor, actually got some results from his experiment, his discoveries would roll out in that broader system called modern American capitalism and society, about which a liberal studies curriculum might help our narrowly-focused engineer think more broadly as he assessed how to develop his invention further. But of course, he also wants to mention his major, excuse me, his concentration.

So next, go to Brown’s Concentrations (Otherwise know as majors) located here: Brown Concentrations. For someone with a clear science/engineering interest, like our friend with the fusion reactor project, you’d start by clicking on and reading courses of interest that are required as well as optional courses that would allow you to pursue your area of interest.

In addition to looking at courses in the major that you might name-drop a class or two and perhaps a professor you might find teaching that class, whom you could also click on to read about (for me; comparative lit: how about that prof Richter: Undergrad courses taught by Gerhard Richter, et al. Yes, at Brown you can directly access courses taught by specific profs to see if they fit you. Get on it, People.

I also strongly suggest you look into research and ongoing work at Brown in your area. To do this, just go to the main Brown page and click on the search window, top right side, and type in a suitable term; here is what you will get it you type in “Engineering Research” in that window: Brown Engineering Research.

And of course as you do all of this and closely read what you find, you are taking notes, and copying and pasting information, maybe one or two pages, all of which will boil down to . . . a couple of sentences or maybe a paragraph. But it’s worth it, to get to know Brown and to come up with solid material so that you are not writing just another generic essay.

As for Stanford, they have a general education requirement, with a useful focus found here: Thinking Matters— and if we took our same engineering/reactor guy who wrote the fusion reactor essay and searched engineering research on the Stanford page, we’d again get a juicy list of things to read on and do further research into in order to make this essay work. Take a look here for more: Engineering Research at Stanford.

Rather than researching broadly, I would suggest using some of the links that are most interesting/most applicable to define more narrow areas of interest and clicking to go deeper down the rabbit hole of your passions, as it were. And yes, it seems perfectly okay to suggest that you are inspired by the work of professor x on subject y . . . even it if is unlikely that an undergrad would actually work with professor x and y. If it fits in with your interests, you show interest in it by name-dropping.

And in your conclusion, you would love the opportunity to further pursue that professor x in area y in order to contribute to z or solving problem zz. Or something even more interesting, in which you do not simply repeat your introduction.

Finally, for help developing and editing essays, contact me.

And come back soon fore more on Brown essays and on Stanford applications.