Margo Bartsch, founder since 2004 802-985-3770

The following lists some sample questions and ways to describe how your experiences influence your response within a specific word count.

This essay question allows you to select a person who has a significant influence on your life, but in answering this question, you can either discuss a specific person or explain how a character in fiction, historical figure or creative work (as in art, music, etc…) has influenced you.

This question probes how ideas have made you who you are. Your response is not necessarily about a “person,” rather it can be about how that person’s ideas, choices, expressions or circumstances made an impression on you and helped to influence your personal development. Your essay allows you to share the values you identify with and your personal ideals by describing your role models or mentors.

Who you choose to write about does not need to be a much-noted, influential person. This is your chance to make a small hero into a big superstar-- because in your eyes, this is something special to you that others should notice. Whether you choose your parents or a power broker in the news, your writing needs to describe why these ideas are important in influencing who you are and how you approach life.

With this essay question, the college is gauging the depth of your interest in the school. They seek students who truly want to go to their school. Your answer can be analytical and emotional, or a balanced combination of the two. This is your opportunity to explain how the particular college program will allow you to excel in the area you have chosen (or will choose) to pursue.

Approaching it from another angle, if you are intent on spending extra money to attend a specific school, there has to be a reason why the cost is worth the added benefit. What makes this college special or its approach different? How does the academic program, learning philosophy or social environment appeal to you?

In writing your essay, think of it as having a conversation with someone who already is “inside” of where you want to be. Your reader represents the college, the student and faculty community, and its values. Your writing style should be both humble and enthusiastic in explaining the specific reasons why the college curriculum, environment, and philosophy are relevant to your areas of interest. Your essay should confidently and candidly convey that you have a solid knowledge of the school as being a great match to succeed in your academic career.

This is one of the questions on the Common Application (2008-2009) that nearly 350 colleges require. In addition, participating colleges might require supplemental essay questions. Visit for the complete listing of participating colleges.

This is actually a two-part question: 1) what makes you proud and 2) how this experience helped you grow. Together your response will show what you are capable of achieving. Your answer should not repeat information that is already in your application. This is an opportunity for you to share an experience by making it come to life-- what it took to get you there (emotionally and physically) and how it affects who you are today. You have bragging-rights to this story, because it is your personal account of how change and choices helped you grow. Your experience should inspire others and make them want to get to know you better.

This essay quotation asks that you discuss some issue of personal, local, national or international concern and its importance to you. Your response should not be written as a research paper with an overview and facts; rather, your personal viewpoint is what shows why you are involved with the outcome. This is your chance to share how your personal experiences have made you engaged with the issue. This is an opportunity for you to take a “BIG” issue and make it “small”-- reflect on why you have a personal stake in the outcome. How does this issue help to describe who you are? Your college essay should explain how your experiences or your personal circumstances makes this issue important to you… why you care.

Although there are two sides to every story, this question does not want objective writing. This is a subjective conversation between you and the reader. It is important that your essay include solid points that link the overall concept or question with your personal discussion. How you organize your essay shows that you can think objectively and logically, yet connect the topic with your personal circumstances. This essay allows you to explain how you view the topic first-hand, yet your ability to think globally while acting locally.