A college admissions essay is a space in which you can highlight what makes you unique and prove how successful you would be in navigating a new and challenging environment like college. While all the Common App essay topics focus on these elements, prompt #6 allows you to dive deeper into demonstrating the breadth of your curiosity and how committed you are to pursuing your interests. To help you craft a compelling story of what most enthralls you, the following is a quick guide to the aspects you should cover in your Common App essay topic #6.
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“Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?” Admissions officers want to know what excites you. Share with them a glimpse of who you are by telling them what you’re curious about and how you satisfy your inquisitive nature. While you can discuss any topic, we recommend concepts or ideas that require critical thinking. For example, talking about a hobby would be appropriate for question prompt #1 while abstract pursuits fit under this prompt #6. You should (1) briefly introduce the concept, idea, or topic that gets you so excited you forget everything else then (2) dive into explaining why this topic is so engaging for you. Explore the reasons behind your attraction to the subject matter. Why are you so curious about it? What do you do to learn more about it? Are there any drawbacks to having this insatiable interest? Have you ever met any roadblocks while pursuing this topic? If so, how did you resolve them? How do you restrain yourself when you feel you’re diving in too deep and losing all sense of time and engagement with the outside world? Or, does that not even matter to you? Also, to what extremes have you gone to pursue this interest, and have you had to make sacrifices along the way? Make sure to focus on you and your relationship to the topic instead of the subject matter itself. Rather than describe the gritty details of what you do, dig into the whys and hows. Admissions officers want to see how you identify interests and feed your curiosity. Ultimately, like most college admissions essays, prompt #6 is designed to help you highlight personal development. How has this fascination changed you? In other words, in what ways have you emotionally and intellectually matured while pursuing this curiosity? How will these personality traits help you to thrive in college and beyond? Show that you are motivated and committed to the causes that pique your interest. Paint a vivid image of your motivations and how you approach self-cultivation. Remember that this is YOUR story. Each word should focus on the reasons behind your actions and judgment calls and the resulting growth you experienced. Are you the type who can independently steer your academic and personal development with little handholding? If so, prove it!