Favorite Fall 2021 Writing Prompts

Here are our favorite 2021 new favorite writing prompts. If you have any you’d like me to share, email me at rjoseph@allcollegeessays.org

Boston University

Trustee Scholarship Essay Choice

2Howard Thurman, who was the dean of BU’s Marsh Chapel from 1953-1965, once wrote: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Can you describe a particular experience you have had or an activity that you participate in that makes you come alive? How would you try to integrate that experience or activity into your time at BU

Brandeis University

Justice Brandeis once said, “If we would guide by the light of reason, we must let our minds be bold.” Tell us about something bold that you’ve recently done.

Butler Own App

Tell us about a time where you had to either take a risk or stay safe. What did you do? What happened? Would you do it again?

Claremont McKenna

2. One of the hallmarks of a CMC education is the first-year humanities program that all students take in their first year at the College. The program has two components: the Freshman Humanities Seminar (FHS) and the Freshman Writing Seminar (FWS). While each FHS and FWS seminar has a distinctive approach in terms of texts and topics, their pairing gives first-year students a shared academic experience in small, writing-intensive courses that foster critical thinking about a wide range of important issues.

FHS introduces first-year students to some of the crucial questions that human beings face with relation to society and the world. Individual sections are taught by faculty from a range of departments. Past and current topics include:

1. Democracy and Leadership
2. Women in Science
3. Unconventional Thinking

FWS, taught by faculty from the literature department, develops students’ abilities in written and oral communication at the college level. Past and current topics include:

1. Art of the Personal Essay
2. Blackness in American Cinema
3. Post-Apocalyptic Humanity

For the purpose of this essay prompt, pick one FHS or FWS seminar to study at CMC. What part of your personal experience—or your desire to know more about an area outside of your experience—best explains your seminar choice?

View the full list of FHS and FWS topics. *

College of Charleston

Honors College Prompt

Septima Poinsette Clark, an education and civil rights activist from Charleston, is credited with the following quote: “We need to be taught to study rather than believe, to inquire rather than to affirm.” Do you agree or disagree with that statement? What is the role of education – particularly higher education – in our lives and communities? Develop an argument that uses examples to defend your position.

Elon (thanks to Jodi)

As you look into the future, what gives you hope?


We want you to think of the most meaningful compliment and critique you’ve received in recent memory. They might come from a friend, parent, teacher, coach, or advisor. They might be personal, professional, or academic. What was the context for each, and why are they so meaningful to you.

Johns Hopkins

Founded in the spirit of exploration and discovery, Johns Hopkins University encourages students to share their perspectives, develop their interests, and pursue new experiences.

Use this space to share something you’d like the admissions committee to know about you (your interests, your background, your identity, or your community), and how it has shaped what you want to get out of your college experience at Hopkins.


A compelling characteristic of Lehigh’s community is that our students want to be actively engaged in their learning, their community, and the world. Our students look to make a difference and have a real-world impact. We expect our community to challenge your viewpoint, your naturalized assumptions, and the way that you see the world around you. In the words of students from Lehigh’s Black Student Union: “We must continue to disparage those who promote racism and police brutality in our country. We must also call out the idle individuals who have become complacent in a time where their voice is paramount.” (Choose one question and reply with 300 words or less) (Required, 100-250 word range, Paste in or Google Drive Share)

1. Tell us how you have taken steps to educate others and/or yourself on anti-racism?

2. What’s one way you think your life would have been different had you been born another race?

3. What would you want to be different in your own country or community to respond to issues of inequality, inequity, or injustice? *


In December 2019, LMU became an observer to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change to provide opportunities for students and faculty members to participate in discussions about global warming, greenhouse gases, and other environmental issues. Pope Francis, a leading Jesuit scholar on environmental activism, inspired LMU to act when he stated in Lautato Si, his 2015 encyclical on climate change: “Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start.”

Prompt question: 

What role do you believe institutions like LMU should play in addressing climate change? What is your personal responsibility to respond to climate change?

Mt. Holyoke

How has social media influenced your life?

NC State University

NC State University is committed to building a just and inclusive community, one that does not tolerate unjust or inhumane treatment, and that denounces it, clearly and loudly. Please describe what those words mean to you and how you will contribute to a more diverse and inclusive NC State environment.

Penn State Honors

What is fairness in the world? Is merit always the pinnacle of fairness in education? *

Pomona College

Helen Keller once said, “The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of tiny pushes of each honest worker.” Whether you aspire to be a hero or an honest worker, what impact do you want to have in the Pomona community, your community back home, or any new community?

Presbyterian College

Yes or No: Is a hot dog a sandwich? Be sure to defend your position on this important life question.

RIT (Thanks Jodi)

If RIT could create any course tailored to your interests, what would that course be about and what would you give as its title?

Please provide a course title and brief description.

Saint Michael’s College

At Saint Michael’s College, our values and our Vision Statement call us to recognize the power of empathy. We acknowledge the shared dignity of each person and foster respect for the differing views of others. Often, empathy begins with simple acts of listening to others. Think about a time when a conversation, a book, a film, the wisdom of a role model, or an encounter with someone in your community opened your eyes to a new perspective – whether it was a major world issue or a seemingly small part of daily life. Tell us briefly about this experience.

Sarah Lawrence College

Sarah Lawrence students are often described as hyphenates: director-playwright-sound designer, environmentalist-photographer, journalist-linguist, economist-poet. In 250-500 words, tell us about seemingly disparate interests you’ve brought together, or hope to bring together at Sarah Lawrence.

SUNY College at Geneseo

Write a letter to a child who will be born in 2020 describing the events of this year from your perspective.* (

Swarthmore College

We are inspired by students who are flexible in their approach to learning, who are comfortable with experimentation, and who are willing to take intellectual risks that move them out of their comfort zone. Reflect on a time that you were intellectually challenged, inspired, or took an intellectual risk—inside or outside of the classroom. How has that experience shaped you, and what questions still linger?

Towson University Honors

In the internet age it is easier to learn more about companies from which we buy products, and a consumer often – but not always – has more choices about which companies to patronize. If the head of a company has political, economic, or social views you find problematic or distasteful, is it ethical to boycott publicly or privately while knowing that lower-level employees, who may not share those views and may not have other employment options in that area, will also be negatively impacted?

University of Miami

The University of Miami’s official mascot is the ibis. Folklore maintains that the native marsh bird is the last to take shelter before a hurricane hits and the first to emerge once the storm passes, making it an apt symbol of courage and resilience.

Considering your ability to control your own motivation and behavior, how have past experiences helped build your courage and resilience to persist in the face of academic and life challenges so that, once these storms pass, you can emerge in continued pursuit of your goals?

University of Notre Dame

In response to the rising momentum behind the Black Lives Matter movement during June 2020, G. Marcus Cole, the Joseph A. Matson Dean of the Notre Dame Law School, penned an open letter entitled, “I am George Floyd. Except I can breathe. And I can do something.” He issues a call to the Notre Dame community saying, “Each of us must do what we can, wherever we are.” What is one action you are taking “to change this world for the better?”

University of Vermont

Which Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor (real or imagined!) best describes you?

University of Virginia

Rita Dove, UVA English professor and former U.S. Poet Laureate, once said in an interview that “…there are times in life when, instead of complaining, you do something about your complaints.” Describe a time when, instead of complaining, you took action for the greater good.

Generation Z is arguably the most technologically savvy cohort in history. They find answers to questions, discover troves of new music, or even start the next global social movement, all within seconds. How has this seemingly limitless connectivity influenced the person you have become?

Virginia Tech

Describe a situation where you were involved or witness to an act of discrimination. How, or did, you respond? Do you wish you would have responded differently? Did this situation cause any change to happen based on this event and did you have a role in that change? What did you learn from this experience? *

Washington and Lee College

Johnson Scholarships

In his October, 1963, A Talk to Teachers, James Baldwin said “…the whole process of education occurs within a social framework and is designed to perpetuate the aims of society.” Yet, as he aptly notes, “the paradox of education is precisely this – that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.” Baldwin suggests that the purpose of education is to teach us to think for ourselves, to question – and change – the “framework” that we have come to understand and accept. What norms of your home or community have you become conscious of during your time in high school, and how would you like to use that knowledge to make it a better place?

Western Kentucky University Mahurin Honors College

They always say hindsight is 20/20.  If that is true, the year 2020 has sure brought a lot of lessons for us all.  What are the top 5 lessons you have learned so far in 2020 and how has each lesson shaped your view and plans for the future?

Williams College

All-Campus Entertainment (ACE), a student organization, hosts events called “Stressbusters”–an opportunity for students to focus on self-care by stepping away from their typical routine and enjoying some unscheduled time (and snacks!) with friends. Weekly Stressbuster activities might include a concert, playing with a therapy dog, painting pumpkins, building with Legos, etc. What’s your version of a “stressbuster,” and how does it help you rejuvenate in the midst of a hectic week?

About Rebecca

Dr. Rebecca Joseph is the developer of this unique integrated website and mobile application that provides all college application requirements for more than 750 major universities in the US and Canada. She has a PhD from UCLA and is a national expert on writing powerful college application essays.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *