Application essay

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An admissions or application essay, sometimes also called a personal statement or a statement of purpose, is an essay or other written statement written by an applicant, often a prospective student applying to some college, university, or graduate school. The application essay is a common part of the university and college admissions process.

Some applications may require one or more essays to be completed, while others make essays optional or supplementary. Essay topics range from very specific to open-ended.

The University of Chicago is known for its unusual essay prompts in its undergraduate admissions application, including "What would you do with a foot-and-a-half-tall jar of mustard"?[1][2]

The Common Application, used for undergraduate admissions by many American colleges and universities, requires a general admissions essay, in addition to any supplemental admissions essays required by member institutions. The Common Application offers students six admissions essay prompts from which to choose.[3] All of the essays – and even the way you put things in order throughout the application – should be directed towards getting one "big idea", a personal thesis that will be remembered after the entire package is read.[4] According to Uni in the USA, the Common Application essay is intended as a chance to describe "things that are unique, interesting and informative about yourself".[5]

The application process for All Souls College, Oxford, has the reputation of being the hardest examination in the world. It consists of several specialist papers and, until 2010, also required candidates to write an essay upon a topic suggested by a single word[6] such as Possessions, which was the topic of successful Fellow, A. L. Rowse.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tamar Lewin, "Earful Over Cheeky University Essay" (December 31, 2009). New York Times.
  2. ^ "College Report." Chicago Journal.
  3. ^ "Tips and Samples for the Common Applicaton Essay Options". 
  4. ^ Robert LeVine (February 9, 2016). "Myths About "The Essay"". Retrieved September 23, 2016. 
  5. ^ "How do I apply? - The Good Schools Guide". 
  6. ^ Harry Mount (19 May 2010), "All Souls, Oxford should continue to put genius to the test", The Daily Telegraph