You Believe That?
Coalition for Access Essay Prompt 3: 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?
So you need to write your core essay for the new Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success application.
I assume you’ve already scanned the five Coalition for Access prompts you have to choose from to write your personal statement (an essay about yourself).
For some reason this one jumped out at you.
There’s most likely a reason for that, so I encourage you to keep thinking and brainstorming a bit about this idea of a belief you’ve held. It should be something you have believed (whether you gave it much thought or not until recently) for a long time.
It could be along religious or philosophical lines, but it certainly doesn’t have to be.
As long as it fits the idea that “I once thought X about myself or life, or others or life in general, and now I’m not so sure, or now I think something totally different, or now I believe more than ever.”
I believe that this prompt is trying to see if you have changed your thinking on something important in your life in recent years.
Typically, this is a sign of maturity, in that you have the ability now in your teens to look back, examine and analyze why you think like you do about certain things.
We all grow up pretty much accepting and adopting what we are expected to believe, by parents, teachers, peers and others.
But there’s a point when we start to question ones that don’t make us feel comfortable anymore, ideas or beliefs that no longer make sense or apply to ourselves. It’s called independent thinking—a skill colleges are all over.
We no longer agree. We question. We don’t believe it anymore. We have changed.
Also, when we make those shifts away from old beliefs, something usually happened to start the process.
In this prompt, they call it a “challenge,” something that made you rethink or evaluate what you believed.
If you decide to write your essay about Coalition prompt 3, I believe it’s critical that you identify and share what happened to challenge your belief in order to make it compelling and personal.
Notice that the prompt literally asks for “a time.”
Otherwise, you risk talking too much about your beliefs in general ways that could result in a dull essay. And you don’t want that!
So start by thinking of something you used to believe that you don’t believe anymore, or you believe in all the more.
Then try to hone in on a moment, time or incident related to that belief that either got you thinking differently or inspired you to change that belief.
The idea is that you will write your essay for Coalition prompt 3 about why and how you changed something you believed in, and in the process, will show the readers a key part of your character—how you think, what you value and how you’ve changed.
As far as possible topics, it’s pretty wide open.
You could write about how you used to believe a certain religious dogma and now you don’t or believe something else; or how you used to believe you were weird, or fat, or ugly, or unlovable, and how that has changed.
Or just take one basic idea about what you thought about the world: You thought all people were good; you thought all people were bad; you thought it didn’t matter if you worked hard; you thought being happy was an impossible goal; you thought you were stuck in life because of your background. Etc.
Sometimes the shift in what you believed happened in a flash, or overnight; other times it took weeks, months, years.
Once you have a belief that was challenged–either by yourself or others–dig deep to explore how and why you changed. This will be the most meaningful part of your essay for Coalition prompt 3.
Sample Outline for Coalition Prompt 3
- Start by sharing a moment, time or incident that relates to what caused you to doubt or change something you believed (about yourself, others or the world.)
- Give background on your old belief: Why you believed it
- Explain how you responded to the moment you describe at the start. Go into what changed and why: Share how you used to think about the belief and what you think now
- Share how this change made you feel and why you think it was important in your life (What you learned about yourself.)
- Conclude with how you think this change in what you believe will affect your future goals and dreams.
Try writing a paragraph or two on each number. Once you have a rough draft, go back and edit it to about 500 or 600 words.
The 3rd Prompt for The Common Application required essay is almost identical to this Coalition prompt 3, you can find more ideas on how to brainstorm for this essay by reading Should You Take the Challenge of Prompt 3 of the Common App?
Remember, if you think up an interesting topic after reading this post, but it doesn’t exactly fit the question Coalition prompt 3 asks, you can still write about it since the last prompt is “Topic of Choice.”
You can write your essay for the Coalition for Access on anything you want!