In the weeks leading up to early decision application deadlines, we’ll examine a few of the Common Application essay prompts that your child will be asked to respond to. Each of the questions presents its own set of challenges and opportunities for students to convey a unique and compelling voice.
Question #2: The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
Reflecting on, and describing our failures is not always easy. Before your child engages in this prompt, it’s important that they can check three boxes: 1) They have experienced meaningful failure 2) It affected them in some way 3) They have learned from the experience in a positive manner.
With all boxes checked, we can now work to breakdown the question part-by-part.
1. “The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success.”
The first sentence of the prompt should give you an indication of what your child needs to focus on. Ultimately, the objective here is to uncover the outcomes and positive impact of failure. As such, your child needs to address the event and move on. The objective here is not to depress the reader, but leave them with a positive outlook on your child.
2. “How did it affect you”
Similarly, this section needs to be as succinct as possible. Wallowing in the after-shocks of your failure is not the point. Your child is instead afforded the opportunity to present critical thinking and problem-solving skills that helped them persevere and overcome the failure effectively.
Showing an admissions officer that you respond to failure in an organized and proactive manner is ultimately the direction your child needs to maintain here as they move into the last section.
3. What did you learn from the experience?
Just as we observed in the first sentence, the question seeks to reveal how this learning experience will lead to, and be indicative of “later success” – namely, your child’s time in college. It can also be helpful to include a potential area of study, extracurricular activity or leadership opportunity that they are interested in pursuing at college as a result of this experience.
As parents well know, a college education is chalked full with transition, success and failure. This question, in part, helps assess how well your child is prepared to handle all of the above as they move into their college years.
Want to learn more about how your child’s application will be evaluated? Schedule your complimentary 30 minute admissions consultation today.