Common Application Prompts: Question 6
Question 6: Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? This is a rather broad prompt, allowing you to write about a variety of subjects. It also quite literally tells you to write about something you are passionate about. The best “topic” or “concept” for this prompt is going to be something truly captivating for you. Colleges want to hear about what gets you excited and what engages you. This prompt allows you to tell admission officers about your passions in a way that cannot be represented anywhere else on the application. Remember: do not spend unnecessary time with the “describe” part of the question. After explaining your topic, spend the majority of the essay tackling the “why” and “what” questions.
- Answering “why?” This is the most important part of your essay. You are directly telling colleges about your qualities they can’t find in test score numbers. You are telling them how an experience resonates with you, giving admission officers a fuller picture of who you are. Spend significant time addressing the “why” question, even if it’s just sprinkled throughout the essay. Use minimal words to describe the act of playing the guitar but use most of your words on why you love the guitar and what this says about you as a person.
- Answering “What?” This question identifies the depth of your passion. Do you just enjoy thinking about the mysteries of our universe, or do you actively read and talk to people about astronomy? As a whole, this prompt is asking you to discuss a relatively academic topic, not just something you day-dream about. Colleges don’t want to hear about when you lose track of timing thinking about living in a Beverly Hills mansion. They want to hear about your passions that you might pursue if you attend their institution. The purpose of this “what” question is to determine the amount of time and energy you invest into what you love.