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Common Application Prompts: Question 3

Common Application Prompts: Question 3

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Question 3: Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? This is one of the least-popular Common Application essay prompts. And for obvious reason- it’s pretty difficult. This prompt requires students to recount a time when they not only disagreed with an idea but have acted on it. Colleges are searching for students with a strong sense of their own values who will make a difference on campus. Keep in mind that challenging a belief doesn’t have to be huge. You don’t need to have organized a campaign to against animal shelter abuse. Maybe you just challenged yourself by learning to play the trumpet when your family is known for lacking talent with music. Focus on revealing two things about yourself through this essay: open-mindedness and passion.

How Do I Reveal These 2 Things?

  1. Open-mindedness. This is a rather mature character-quality, instantly showing college-readiness. Demonstrating how you challenged a belief shows schools that you are consciences and dynamic in your community. Even more introspective- if you write about a time when you challenged your own belief or misconception, then you truly are proving yourself to be open-minded and accepting of other perspectives. Also, be confident if the outcome of this was failure. It’s totally fine if your attempt to question an idea didn’t go as planned, colleges want to hear that. They also want to hear what you have learned from the experience and how you are continuing to fight for your belief.

  2. If you have an example in mind of when you questioned a belief, but aren’t passionate about why you challenged, it might be best to find a different prompt. This essay prompt is designed to give admission officers a glimpse into your life: What do you care about? How do you handle conflict? Are you a change-maker? It is a great opportunity to reveal what you enjoy spending your time doing and what you are passionate about.

Need an example? Here is an essay written by a student about challenging a belief about themselves. 

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Common Application Prompts: Question 2

Common Application Prompts: Question 2