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Finding an idea or belief for Option 3 on the Common Applications

The third option on the Common Applications asks you to reflect upon a time when you challenged a belief or idea. Here are a few points to keep in mind while you brainstorm ideas for this essay.

The belief you challenged can be yours. In fact, your own belief can be a great topic for the essay. By showing that you are capable of challenging your beliefs, you are demonstrating that you are open-minded and mature. These qualities are essential for success in college and life.

The belief can be any belief – political, religious, social or ethical. The idea can be any idea – theoretical or practical. Don’t forget that some beliefs can lead your essay into unsafe territories. Political and religious beliefs often belong to this category. So do essays about the writer’s drinking habits or drug abuse. Tread carefully, and choose a relatively safe topic.

Note that your challenge of the belief need not be successful. For example, if your community approves the dowry system and you run a campaign against this practice, your efforts could lead to a good essay even if you are not successful.

The best essays are those that reveal something that the writer feels passionate about. By the time they finish reading your essay, the admissions officers should feel that they have a much better grasp on your passions and motivations.

As far as possible, choose an idea or belief that also allows you to explore your interests and passions.