Tips and Ideas for Coalition for Access
Essay Prompts: The First and Last
If you are using the new Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success to apply to college for 2016-17, you first need to check if the college or university you want to attend requires essays.
Some will require you to write the main general essay, and others might only require you write their shorter, additional essays specifically for individual schools, which are called supplemental essays. A few might not want any essays.
It’s up to you to figure out what each school wants from you, something you can find out on the Coalition for Access web site.
If they require you write the main Coalition essay, there’s good news!
You can write a personal statement on any topic you want.
And, if you have already written your main essay for the other, more popular application system, called The Common Application, you can simply use that same essay for the Coalition.
If you are feeling confused, don’t worry. You aren’t alone.
Stick with me here and it will start to make sense.
If you learned you need to write that main, general Coalition essay to apply to a school that uses the Coalition for Access application, here are the prompts you choose from.
Notice that the last one says, “Topic of Choice.”
This is the reason you can write about anything you want if you need a general Coalition essay for the Coalition for Access, and the reason you can also simply recycle your Common App essay here.
You are also welcome to write your essay in response to any of the other prompts for the main essay for the Coalition for Access for 2016-17:
- Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
- Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
- 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?
- What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
- Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.
Strategies for the First Prompt for the Coalition essay
Here are some tips and strategies to help you brainstorm ideas for the first prompt for your Coalition essay:
Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
This prompt is encouraging you to pick something that happened to you (an “experience”) that had a significant influence on who you are.
I would start by looking at what I call your “defining qualities or characteristics” so you can zero in on the key descriptors of your “character.”
Then think of moments or incidents from your past (mainly high school years) where something happened that related to one of those qualities or characteristics.
To make sure that experience was interesting, look for one that included some type of problem.
The idea is you share a mini-story about an experience that illustrates or demonstrates that one core quality or characteristic. In the process, you will naturally showcase a key part of your character.
If this approach appeals to you, I would read How to Answer Prompt 1 of the Common Application to learn more about how to find and share a real-life story to illustrate your character.
This post will also teach you how to craft your real-life story or experience into an engaging “anecdote” that you can use to power your essay at the start.
I would also suggest you read How to Write a College Application Essay in 3 Steps to learn more about this writing method (for writing personal essays), and why “problems” are essay gold when it comes to making sure they are interesting, meaningful and memorable.
The Coalition for Access did not provide a word count, but to write a balanced personal statement with depth I would shoot for 500 to 600 words. Too short, and it’s difficult to develop your ideas; too long and you risk losing the interest of the reader.
As a reminder, here’s my short list of features I believe make any personal statement essay effective. If you follow the 3 steps from my post, you will include all of these:
Be engaging at the start (hook reader)
Reveal something unique about who you are
Connect with your reader
Show your grit (raw determination)
Express intellectual vitality (how you think and what you value)
Have a sharp focus
Here’s tips and advice on how to answer Essay Prompt 2 for the Coalition for Access (about volunteering and giving back experiences).
I will share more tips and strategies on how to brainstorm and craft a main Coalition essay for prompts 3 and 4 for Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success in future posts. Stay tuned!