Essay for 2017 Application

Below are essay prompts for the 2017 Common Application and the Coalition Application. Both first-time college students (future freshmen) and transfer students use either the Common Application or the Coalition Application to apply to Purdue. For 2017 enrollment, these applications will be available in early August 2016. 


  • When applying to Purdue you should use the Common Application OR the Coalition Application, not both.

  • Do your research. Select your essay prompt(s) by first deciding which colleges you plan to apply to. If all the colleges you plan to apply to use the Common Application, this application may be the best choice for you. If all use the Coalition Application, that may be the better choice. Although Purdue uses both, some colleges only use one or the other.

  • The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Purdue's own Online Writing Lab offers advice on writing essays for college applications.

First-Time College Students (Freshmen)

The Common Application Freshman Essay Prompts (required minimum-maximum word count: 250-650)
  1. 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.

  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?

  3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?

  4. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

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

The Coalition Application Freshman Essay Prompts (recommended minimum-maximum word count: 300-500)
  1. Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 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)?

  5. Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

College Transfer Students 

Essay Prompt for The Common and Coalition Applications - same for both (minimum/maximum word count: 250-650)

Please provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve. 

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