Common Application Prompts: Question 5
Question 5: Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. This topic focuses on the idea of maturity and growth. It’s a great prompt to write about if you have a single event of your life that stands out as one that led you to where you stand today. Though we all know growth only occurs after multiple events, you should decide on a single occurrence to make your essay both straightforward and intriguing. Admission officers will be weighed down with information if you attempt to cram all your learning experiences into one essay. Keep it simple. Also, while there are lots of character qualities that we learn from experience, try to choose an event that lead to your maturity. Remember, colleges are primarily looking for college-readiness. In addition to whatever patience, confidence, or organizational skills you learned from your experience, reflect on how this helped you develop into the more mature individual you are today. Here are 3 more tips for approaching this prompt.
Keep it current, keep it interesting. While brainstorming for this topic, try to focus your attention on your high school years, possibly your middle school years as well. The experiences you have had over the last few years will be clearer in your memory and will more accurately represent who you are today. Write about an accomplishment or realization that you feel was truly significant in your life. Don’t force an event to sound like it completely changed you as a person, if you don’t believe it did. Tell admissions officers about a realization you honestly care about enjoy discussing.
Describe your growth rather than your accomplishments. Like I mentioned earlier, you want the focus of the essay to be your growth and maturity from a single event. While you may have learned a lot while stage-managing for the school musical, don’t spend excessive time narrating what happened the night of the performance. Instead, construct the majority of your essay to highlight your personal growth in good communication skills or confidence. Talk about the personal progress rather than the accomplishment.
Don’t be afraid to discuss failure leading to growth. An “accomplishment” or “event” does not need to have been a success. As I discussed about prompt #2, colleges want to hear about your trials and challenges as well as your accomplishments. It takes a high level of maturity to not only discuss your failures, but also identify how you learned from them. Select an important period of realization for you, whether it be an accomplishment, failure, or just an experience.
Still unsure what to write about? Check out this example essay written by a student.