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Tips for fifth essay on Common Application

The fifth essay option on the Common Application asks you to discuss an event or accomplishment that played a significant role in your transition to adulthood:

Here is the prompt.

‘Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.’

Every one of us has had experiences that helped us grow and mature. As a result, many students find this option viable. There is one problem, though. You need to identify that ‘accomplishment or event’ that helped you to grow into a thoughtful and mature adult. The part of the essay that discusses your growth needs to have enough depth. The tips given below will be helpful to you.

Before you start writing, you need to fully understand what exactly is meant when the prompt says a ‘transition from childhood to adulthood’?

This part of the prompt is a bit problematic because growth does not happen overnight and it is nearly impossible to state that one experience or event will suddenly transform a child into an adult. Maturity and adulthood usually come about over several years and through hundreds of thousands of learning experiences.

There is yet another problem with this prompt. This essay is supposed to be written by a 17 or 18 year old student who can hardly claim to be an adult. At best, he or she is a young adult who still has to mature a lot over the next few years.

But when you look at this prompt from the position of the admissions officers, you can see that it is interesting in many ways. To start with, admission officers don’t expect you to be done maturing and growing. If that was the case, you wouldn’t even bother to go to college. So, yes, by applying to college, you are telling the officers that you still have a lot to learn and you are ready for the next stage in your life.

You are suggesting that you are now ready to live away from your home, take responsibility for your actions, and make proper decisions. Being an ‘adult’ also means being respectful of others.

If you can write an essay that clearly indicates that you have the kind of personal growth necessary to enter a more independent stage of your life, you have won the battle.