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Countdown to college: How to start thinking about the Common App’s newest prompt

Lee Shulman Bierer, Tribune News Service on

Published in Education News

The Common Application offers students seven essay prompts. They need to choose just one and write an essay of 250-650 words. Six of the seven are the same as last year, and the one new prompt is:

"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?"

This prompt is encouraging students to talk about gratitude and appreciation in a more grown-up way. Students who select this prompt should try to:

* Examine when you’ve felt grateful to someone else.

* Delve deeper into understanding why you’ve felt appreciative. Ask yourself why you feel this way and how that sense of appreciation has motivated you to do something new or different.

* Understand when you feel gratitude and how you express yourself when you’re feeling that way.


* Talk about the impact of gratitude in your life: What has it brought into your life, and how have you changed and/or grown due to recognizing your gratitude.

* Describe how your behavior toward others is different now.

* Think about the word and the feeling of “kindness.”

* Ask yourself how you’ve been more kind over the last year and how has that impacted you and those around you.


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