Common App Essay Questions 2010 Calendar

As of today, August 1st, the 2017-2018 Common Application is open! This means that if you are planning to apply to Olin College this year, you will now be able to start your application, add Olin as one of your prospective colleges, and check out Olin’s supplemental questions and essay prompts on the Common Application website.

You have plenty of time (5 whole months!) between now and our application deadline on January 1st to complete and submit your application to Olin. But just in case you’d like to start brainstorming and playing with some ideas for those essay questions, we thought we’d share the prompts with you now!

Essay Prompt #1 (250-500 words): Olin is a community striving to improve the world for everyone or anyone through engineering. What change do you hope to see or be a part of? Why is this change important to you?

Essay Prompt #2 (250-500 words): We would like you to choose one of the following prompts:

  • Tell us a story about a time when you made someone happy. What effect did the experience have on you?
  •  When, where or with whom are you your most authentic self? What makes you feel most like you?
  • Think about things that excite or engage you (for example, people, ideas, projects, books, causes, innovations). Keeping that in mind, tell us about how you would spend a “perfect day.” What makes that perfect day a day well spent?

In the coming months, we’ll be posting more blogs with application advice, including advice about how to approach writing your essays. In the meantime, if you have any questions about applying to Olin, please don’t hesitate to direct them to our office at apply@olin.edu. 

We are pleased to share the 2017-2018 Common Application essay prompts with you. The changes you see below reflect the feedback of 108 Common App member colleges and more than 5,000 other Common App constituents, as well as consultation with our advisory committees and Board of Directors. Students represented the single largest share of constituent survey respondents (59%), followed by school counselors (23%), and teachers (11%).

Read: You Have a Story to Tell. Colleges Want to Read It.and The Common App Essay Prompts Are Changing.

We were gratified to learn that 91% of members and 90% of constituents agree or strongly agree that the current prompts are effective. In addition, the narrative comments we received helped us see areas for improvement in three of the prompts. Working in close consultation with the counselors and admission officers on our advisory committees, we revised these prompts in a way that we believe will help students see expanded opportunities for expressing themselves. Those revisions appear in italics. You will also notice two new prompts. The first asks students to share examples of their intellectual curiosity. The second is a return to inviting students to submit an essay on a topic of their choice, reframed to help students understand that they are welcome to draw inspiration from multiple sources, not just their own creativity.

The word limit on the essay will remain at 650.

The goal of these revisions is to help all applicants, regardless of background or access to counseling, see themselves and their stories within the prompts. They are designed to invite unencumbered discussions of character and community, identity, and aspiration. To this end, we will be creating new educational resources to help students both understand and approach the opportunities the essay presents for them.

2017-2018 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. [No change]

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? [Revised]

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? [Revised]

4. 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. [No change]

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. [Revised]

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? [New]

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. [New]

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