Top Tips for Writing a Coalition Application Essay

Are you writing an essay for The Coalition Application this year? If so, here’s what you should consider for each prompt.

The Coalition Application 2017-2018 essay prompts are as follows:

  • Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.

Key words: Story; Character

For this prompt, take a while to reflect on who you are, how you got that way, and why you are still that way. What qualities do you admire most about yourself? What do your teachers, parents, or friends admire most about you and why? Don’t know? Ask them!

The key word in this prompt is “story.” Use the elements of storytelling to captivate your reader. Use imagery, add dialogue, start off with a hook, and make the reader feel like she is experiencing the moment with you.  

When I teach essay writing, I tell my students that every moment up until now has been a story. Think about that: as soon as you gained language, you started telling yourself stories. We, as humans, add meaning to almost everything. With that being said, there are millions of moments in your life that you can use to tell an admissions team.

  • Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.

Key words: Meaningful contribution; greater good; challenges; rewards

Start by defining what the key words mean for you. What is a meaningful contribution? Is it money? Is it time? Is it effort? Is it gifting something that you find valuable? Is it sacrificial? What about the greater good? Does that mean a larger number of people? Does that mean someone gets left out? What does challenge mean for you? What about reward?

Getting clear on these components will help you uncover your perspective of the world. After each definition, it helps to ask yourself why you feel or believe that way. Did it come from experience or from your family? This is a way to brainstorm ideas and a direction for your response.

  • Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?

Key words: cherished or accepted belief; challenged; respond; affect

This is a common essay prompt because it asks applicants to stop to reflect on how they view the world. A belief is simply a thought you keep thinking. Most of us pick up our beliefs from family, our communities, our teachers, and our friends. Sometimes, however, we have to face that our beliefs will be challenged by others or by ourselves.

This prompt is a great way for an admissions team to see how you respond to challenge and how you process new information to make decisions. You can talk about how you grew up eating meat and decided to become a vegetarian. Or, perhaps you decided to challenge a long-held belief about another person or country or custom.

  • What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?

Key words: hardest part; best part; advice; younger

You don’t have to go in order to respond effectively to this prompt. Perhaps your essay acts as a letter to a friend or sibling. This essay should be fun to write. Focus on what you know from personal experience rather than on assumptions of others’ experiences.

  • Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

If you have an essay already from another application or another set of prompts, then feel free to use it. If you’re writing this one from scratch, keep in mind that it should be a personal narrative.

Lastly, pick the prompt that you feel most confident about responding to. Tell a story unique to you. Feel free to get creative provided your response still answers the prompt.

Happy Writing!

This blog was written by Jaclyn Corley, Founder of The College Essay Captain and digital course creator of College Essay Playbook

The College Essay Captain helps teens overcome their fears and limiting beliefs around writing college application essays, so they are free to authentically share their stories with admissions teams.