Monday, November 16, 2015

Memoir Essay Writing Prompts from College Application Essays

I particularly enjoy working with high school seniors as they draft and revise their college application essays. The best questions are simultaneously narrow and broad. If you think about molding your own essay to reveal something about yourself, they can be a healthy and fun exercise.

I encourage memoir writing students to use these essay questions as prompts for their own essays.

Here are two favorites from the University of Chicago (with a few more here):

Orange is the new black, fifty’s the new thirty, comedy is the new rock ‘n’ roll, ____ is the new ____. What’s in, what’s out, and why is it being replaced?

“I learned to make my mind large, as the universe is large, so that there is room for paradoxes.” –Maxine Hong Kingston. What paradoxes do you live with?

One of Stanford's short essay questions asks, "What matters to you, and why?" Broad, yes. But also good to think about as you hone your essay to address one particular issue. Read more of their questions here.

For even more, here are this year's Common Application essay questions

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