Application Essay

Choosing an Essay Prompt

  • You may choose from any of the Common App prompts to provide supplemental information for the review of their application. Regardless of which prompt you choose, all essays are reviewed equally.

Common Application Essay Prompts

  • 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?
  • Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  • 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.

Why are we requiring an essay?

  • We get a lot of information about your academic accomplishments from your application and transcripts. The essay gives us a little more insight into your experiences, interests and talents outside the classroom. It gives you a “voice” in our review. What do you want us to know about you that isn’t courses and grades? Choose the prompt that allows you to express yourself.

How are we evaluating your essay?

  • We aren’t using a red pen to “grade” your essay, and your essay will never be the sole factor for an admission decision. We’re most interested in what you have say – not in how exactly you say it. So we’ll be looking for you to address the question or prompt (if you choose a specific one), and we’ll want to see that you gave it enough time and effort to ensure minimal mistakes and an understanding of appropriate essay structure.
  • Regardless of the topic you choose, your response should demonstrate your academic promise and readiness for the rigor of a college classroom. For more tips about the essay, check out our blog.

How do I submit my essay?

  • If you applied through the Future 49er Portal or CFNC, it is preferred that you upload your essay to the Future 49er Portal in the “Upload Materials” section. If you experience any issues uploading it in your portal, you may email it to If you applied through CommonApp, your essay is already submitted to us and no further action is needed.

Special Consideration

  • If there are circumstances that make essay writing a hardship, please reach out to your Admissions Counselor for assistance. This requirement is not intended to present a barrier and we are committed to working with students who need special consideration.