Tips for Common App Essay Prompt #1

As you begin your college application process, you may decide to apply through the Common Application. The Common Application (also known as the “Common App”) is an advanced college application platform that allows you to apply to multiple colleges at once. The Common App has seven essay prompts for you to choose from. Here are some tips to tackling Essay Prompt #1!

Common App Essay Prompt #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.”

Things to Consider

This prompt is broad, giving you the chance to show off your creativity and share a memorable story. Remember, your essay doesn’t have to be a complete reflection of who you are as a person. That’s a really big task! Instead, think of your essay as a way to share more about yourself and show off your writing skills. When answering this prompt, be sure to choose one of the topics below as the focus of your essay.


Think about where you come from. What are your roots? Where were you born and raised? How has your background made you the person you are today? How will this impact the college you join? You are invited to tell a story about who you are that is otherwise missed in your application materials. Share your narrative!


How do you define yourself? What aspects of your identity make you unique? Are there specific traits or attributes that make you special? How will these characteristics serve you in college? A college will be a place that serves your identity and a place where your identity adds value to their community. Don’t be hesitant to shine!


Do you devote time to certain passions or activities? Consider the things that bring out your enthusiasm and curiosity. How do you hope to pursue these interests in college? These interests can lead to lifelong hobbies and career paths.


Think about your skills and hobbies. Do you have expertise in a particular subject? What is a surprising ability you possess?

What to Avoid

Restating Facts

You may be tempted to restate information you already shared on your application. Instead, use those facts to share a story that conveys your individuality. Don’t be afraid to write about something that is of great importance to you!

Multiple Topics

Pick one of the categories listed in the prompt and write about it in detail. For example,  if you choose to write about your background, explain some important aspects of your family life. Clarify the lessons you’ve learned from your family customs and provide specific examples. Once you’re all done, be sure to share your draft with a family member, trusted mentor, guardian, or school counselor.