When Do College Essay Prompts Come Out?

College essay should be written in the summer prior to the senior year. The topics come out in the spring and they have been available for months. Continue reading to know more about the prompts.

Updated by Smriti Singh on 12th May 2020

If you are passionate about writing, brainstorming, and researching, then preparing an essay is an easy task. A lot of students find it difficult to get started and one of the most difficult parts is getting the right title for the essay. Try to understand the topic and you have won half of the battle. It’s not really easy to come up with a striking title, you might be able to research the body of the essay. 

When will the College Essay Prompts be released?

For Common Application

The college essay prompts for the common app generally released in January. You can start working on your big essay, have the preliminary draft ready, so you can return to it later and edit it as many times as you need, or even if you feel like the first one does not really work out for you then you can easily change the prompt. Perhaps most of the supplemental essay topics won't be available until early August, but the Common Application essay topics generally roll over from year to year.

For Coalition Application

This year, the coalition app also released the college essay prompts earlier. This year, in the Coalition App, one of the essay prompts provides students the chance to write about the topic of their choice which is same as the Common App essay prompts

For Universal College Application

The Universal Common Application is essentially the same thing as the Common Application, only much less popular. The college essay prompts for the Universal College App are a bit different in nature as compared to the Common App and Coalition App but it also provides the student to choose any topic for their interest and write on it.

Following are some 2020-2021 Common Application Essay Prompts:

  1. Please share your story, if this sounds like you- Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. 

  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. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

Following are few 2020-2021 Coalition Application Essay Prompts:

  1. Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.

  2. 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.

  3. What is the hardest part of being a student now? What is the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?

  4. 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?

  5. Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

The most common choice for you must be the last one in both the application prompts because it allows you to explore a topic of your choice. However, you are free to choose whichever you want. It is all about the content that you put in the essay as one particular topic is not better than others.

A unique perspective, strong writing, and an authentic voice are the 3 things that an admissions officer is looking for in your admission essay. However, there is no magic topic that will automatically ensure admission at the college of your dreams, there are experiences everyone has that you can use to find your strongest possible application essays.


You should be writing your college essay in the summer prior to the senior year. The topics come out in the spring and they have been available for months. Take the time to write your college essay. Make a target of 500 to 550 words limit to complete the essay. Make sure it is a true reflection of your personality and beliefs and represents the most interesting parts about you. Starting your essay early will help you in reducing the stress of applying greatly. It will help you to put the most energy possible into writing great essays.