Below are essay prompts for the 2018 Common Application and the Coalition Application. Both first-time college students (future freshmen) and transfer students use either the Common Application or the Coalition Application to apply to Purdue. For 2018 enrollment, these applications will be available in early August 2017.
Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
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?
Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
Please provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve.
Here’s another college application staple: the “elaborate on an extracurricular” prompt. This time, however, you actually have some breathing room.
Compared to Purdue’s other prompts, this one is more straightforward. For this essay, you should expand one extracurricular activity beyond the scope of what is listed in your activities section or resume. Bonus points if you can convey personal growth.
The biggest challenge here will be choosing the right activity to write about. You don’t necessarily want to choose your most impressive one. Often times, writing about your personal experience with something more grounded can be just as effective.
If your application has a central theme (like commitment to service, intellectual fervor, or social activism), you might consider using an activity that relates to this theme, even if it is only tangentially related. This will uphold the overall cohesion of your application.
On the contrary, it can be good to demonstrate your capacity to engage with the world in multiple, often contradictory ways. A diverse portfolio can be a good indicator of a mature thinker, capable of seeing multiple perspectives.
Which of the following major/activity pairings do you think would be most effective:
- A political science major who writes about student government
- A biology major who writes about ceramics
- A linguistics major who writes about ice skating
- A statistics major who writes about social science research
- An English major who writes about HOSA
The truth is, all five pairings have equal potential to be great! It just depends on your unique circumstances and how you wish to frame your response.
While you have liberty with subject matter, don’t just write anything. Make sure your response to this question provides new information. Adcoms will be able to see what accomplishments are on your application, so you need to focus on specific tasks within these activities and why they were so impactful.
This essay isn’t lengthy, but it’s still a chance to be creative in terms of content/structure. Try to begin with an interesting hook that leaves the reader begging for more.