Oprah and Prompt 2 of The Common Application

college application essay


Yesterday, I wrote about how you can answer Prompt #2 of The Common Application and write about recovering from a failure.

Coincidentally, our favorite motivator Oprah Winfrey stood up in front of the graduating class at Harvard University just last weekend and talked about the same topic.

As you see, failing has an upside.

If you decide to “recount an incident or time” when you experienced failure for your college application essay, I presented some ideas in my last post on how to find a compelling story.

I advised you to think in broad terms about failure, and how almost any problem you have faced could fall into that category.

But once you recount a story about a time you “failed” in some way in your essay, you will also need to address the second part of the prompt: How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?

Telling an engaging story at the beginning is important for a standout essay because it serves to grab your reader and hook their attention at the start.

But the second part of the essay, where you explain what that experience meant to you, is equally important. This is where you can show admissions officers how you think, what you care about and how you learn. (more…)