Common App Week: Prompt 6 Breakdown and Brainstorming Tips

Common app promised new essay and it didn't disappoint with prompt 6! Today on our common app week, we talk about brand new essay option! The prompt is as follows: 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?” 

Personally, this new addition is great because of its focussed approach; great for showing off our passions and inner nerd. College, one could argue, is largely about the pursuit of knowledge, so you can imagine it would be quite appealing for an admissions officer to have a meter for your level of self-motivated learning, along with a better understanding of how and why you choose to pay attention to the things that intrigue you. This is a full-on peek into your brain: how you process information, how you seek out new sources of content and inspiration. How resourceful are you when your curiosity is piqued to the fullest? The answer to this prompt should also reveal something to admissions about the breadth or depth of your interests. For example, if you’re interested in studying astrophysics, you might choose to discuss a concept that shows how far your exploration of the sciences truly reaches. How consumed are you by this passion you are choosing to pursue academically?

Some key questions to consider:

  • What floats your boat? Do you have an appetite for knowledge about something specific? Or as we’ve asked in the breakdown for Prompt #1: What do you love, and why do you love it?
  • What lengths have you gone to in order to acquire new information about or experiences related to a topic of interest?
  • How do you typically seek to enrich your knowledge when something appeals to you? Do you have a favorite corner or the library (or internet)? A mentor who is open to answering your burning questions?
  • What about the process of learning, especially about subjects that call out to you, is satisfying?

And a few examples to get those wheels turning:

  • Did the idea of open source code inspire you to create a tech startup with a few of your friends? What projects do you work on, and why is the idea of sharing information still so revolutionary?
  • Did an interest in recycling led you to create a paper recycling company focused on educating high school students about sustainability?
  • Have you taught yourself to master the compositions of Mozart and Beethoven and break down the songs of Bruno Mars by ear in your spare time?
  • Do you have an obsession with pizza so intense it led you to study bread-making and keep a pizza journal that documents the 700+ slices you’ve consumed thus far? How is pizza-making more scientific and/or artistic than the average person realizes?

Whatever you’re into, embrace it. Show your feathers. Let your freak flag fly (within reason, obviously). This prompt is about the pursuit of knowledge and your desire to proactively challenge yourself. Whether you are devouring the classics on your Kindle or nerding out over the perfect cheese for calzone-making, your attachment to a subject may inspire admissions to want to learn more about it…and you! Come have a chat with us so we can learn about you and help you turn your nerdy obsessions into an opportunity at some of the best colleges in the world.