CommonApp Update! The CommonApp has recently released the list of its 7 prompts, with the addition of a new prompt for the 2021-2022 cycle of admissions. The prompt reads-
‘Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?’
Breaking down the prompt- What are they asking?
This new CommonApp prompt asks you to share a personal story or testimonial about a time which made you feel eternally grateful for someone’s gesture or help. “Gratitude” lies at the heart of this prompt. It couldn’t have come at a better time, because while 2020 was a highly uncertain and tumultuous year, many of us also received help from places where we did not expect it.
The prompt also seeks to examine your thoughtfulness and sensitivity towards others’ efforts and gestures. Such acts of kindness emphasise the importance of human social bonds and you should talk about how this taught you the value of community and selflessness.
How should I attempt this prompt?
You can use this prompt to share a deeply personal story (not just pertaining to 2020)- it could be when a neighbour helped you out with repairs, or a random stranger guided you when you lost your way in a new town. Here, you should highlight how you were surprised when you received the random act of kindness, and how that had an impact on you.
The structure of your essay is also paramount- instead of just stating the incident, you should show the “before and after” effect that it had on you. Try and frame it like a “journey of self-discovery”, wherein the actions of a known person or a stranger caught you by surprise and triggered a series of emotions that changed your perspective for the better.
You might be a Hobbesian, with a belief that all humans are naturally vainglorious and only seek to dominate others, but someone’s kind actions made you think action question your belief. You can show how the revelation made you look at the good in human beings, and how you now seek to inculcate selflessness in yourself as well.
Through this prompt, admissions officers seek to understand your emotional quotient and how well would you fit in the college community.
Thankfulness, gratitude and being sensitive to others (and their actions) form the core of human relations and interactions, and will thus show the admissions committee that you are dedicated to contributing to the university’s community.
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