When Do College Essay Prompts Come Out?

Time to write your college essay, but when do college essay prompts come out? We’ll cover essay prompt release dates for all applications.

TCM Staff

24th November 2021

If you’re passionate about writing, brainstorming, and researching, essays are easy tasks! But college essays are a different story. It’s hard to put together a meaningful, well-written essay when you know your college acceptance is on the line! 

Luckily, you can start early, as soon as you receive your college essay prompts. But when do college essay prompts come out? We’ll cover college essay prompts and release dates for common app 2022, as well as for coalition applications and universal college applications. 


When Do College Essay Prompts Come Out?


For Common App 2022

If you’re one of the 1 million students that apply to college with the common app, you might be wondering when do common app prompts come out? Common app essay prompts usually come out at the start of each calendar year, so a solid three-quarters of a year before your college start date. 

The 2020-2021 common app essay prompts came out in January. The 2021-2022 essay prompts came out in February. 

In the last few years, the common app college essay prompts didn’t change much. It tends to roll over essay topics from year to year. 


For Coalition Application

Coalition application essay prompts usually come out at the start of the calendar year as well, similar to the common app essay prompts. The essay prompts 2021-2022 are the same as they were last year, and you can find them at the bottom of the article, and here.


2021-2022 Common Application Essay Prompts

Here are the 2021-2022 Common Application essay prompts:

  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  4. 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?
  5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  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?
  7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.


2021-2022 Coalition Application Essay Prompts


Here are the Coalition Application college essay prompts for 2021-2022. 

  • Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it. 
  • Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution. 
  • Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
  • What is the hardest part of being a student now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
  • Submit an essay on a topic of your choice. 


When Do Colleges Release Essay Prompts?

Some colleges release their own essay prompts for students, which means you’ll have to write more than one essay. These are known as supplemental essays, but when do supplemental essays come out?

Usually, colleges release their essay prompts before August 1. However, they often release them much sooner than that, mirroring the release dates of the Common Application and Coalition Application essay prompts. 

Some essay prompts from colleges include:


What if the moon were made of cheese? Or Neptune made of soap? Pick a celestial object, reimagine its material composition, and explore the implications. Feel free to explore the realms of physics, philosophy, fantasy…the sky is the limit!

University of Chicago


Which book, character, song, monologue, or piece of work (fiction or non-fiction) seems made for you? Why?

Emory University


The Harvard College Honor Code declares that we “hold honesty as the foundation of our community.” As you consider entering this community that is committed to honesty, please reflect on a time when you or someone you observed had to make a choice about whether to act with integrity and honesty.

Harvard University

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. Do College Essay Prompts Change Every Year?

While Common App and Coalition App essay prompts tend to stay the same, college essay prompts vary widely from year to year.


    2. Is the Common App Open for 2022?

Yes, the Common App opened in August 2021 for the 2022 admission year. However, the only essay prompts available are the ones for the class of 2021. Essay prompts are expected to come out in early 2022. 


    3. What Colleges Have Released Supplemental Essay Prompts?

Colleges haven’t released supplemental essay prompts for the entering class for 2022. However, some colleges that release supplementary essay prompts include:

  • American University
  • Assumption University
  • Babson College
  • Barnard College
  • Bentley College
  • Boston College
  • Boston University
  • Brandeis University
  • Brown University
  • Chapman University
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Duke University
  • Elon University
  • Emmanuel College
  • Emory University
  • Georgetown University
  • Georgia Tech
  • Gonzaga University
  • Harvard University
  • High Point University
  • Indiana University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Lafayette College
  • Lehigh University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • New York University
  • North Carolina State University
  • Northwestern University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Pomona College
  • Princeton University
  • Providence College
  • Purdue University
  • Syracuse University
  • The George Washington University
  • Tufts University
  • Tulane University
  • University of California
  • Rice University
  • Rollins College
  • Southern Methodist University
  • Stanford University
  • Stetson University
  • Stonehill College
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of Chicago



Try not to leave your college essay to the last minute! You have plenty of time from the essay prompt release date till when you have to submit it. Now that you know the answer to, “when do college essay prompts come out,” it’s time to start drafting your essay. Check out our tips about what to write about in a college essay.

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