The Big Day has arrived! The Common Application is up and running. Did you turn immediately to this year’s prompts for the Personal Statement?

Did you race through the prompts and yell, “Number four! I know the answer to that one!” Before you dash off an essay, click on the image below or go to: 

Athena Advises

Today’s video has a suggestion for a better way to choose the prompt that may bring out a more thoughtful response.

It may seem counterintuitive, but the best prompt for you may be the one to which you don’t already “know the answer.” A question that gives you pause may well lead you to reexamine what you thought you knew–even about yourself. An essay that takes the reader with you as you reflect on who you are or what you really care about can demonstrate for us how you think. Your thought process as you come to terms with something difficult tells us a lot about you.

You may know that I have published a number of very short stories. They usually begin as I am thinking about something that happened–and I don’t know what to make of it. It troubles me. The story is usually written from the point of view of a narrator who doesn’t understand what is going on. If I did know exactly what to think, it wouldn’t be interesting to me. The story might read more like a lecture, because when we are sure we understand something, we tend to want to convince other people to agree with how we see it.

So check out the video for a practical suggestion of how to choose a prompt: perhaps not the one to which you already have an answer, but the one that makes you stop and think.

Dr. Marlena Corcoran
Founder and CEO