Where can I find a list of college admissions essay questions?

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Deciding which college you want to attend is stressful. Preparing your college applications and meeting various deadlines is an ordeal. Worrying about the essay questions you'll be asked -- and how many you'll have to answer -- is agonizing.

The college essay allows you to present your unique character to the admissions committee, and it's a crucial factor in admission decisions for many colleges. Questions for different colleges range from straightforward to esoteric. Here are some examples:

  • University of Vermont: "Why is UVM a good college choice for you?" [source: College Board]
  • Columbia University: "[W]rite an essay which conveys to the reader a sense of who you are." [source: Columbia University]
  • University of Pennsylvania: "You have just completed your 300-page autobiography. Please submit page 217." [source: Gutmann]
  • University of Notre Dame: "In a homily during his visit to the United States, Pope Benedict XVI stated, 'Today's celebration is more than an occasion for gratitude of graces received. It is also a summons to move forward with firm resolve to use wisely the blessings of freedom, in order to build a future of hope for coming generations.' How will a Notre Dame education enable you to answer the call to 'use wisely the blessings of freedom, in order to build a future of hope' for others in your own way?'" [source: Notre Dame]

Some colleges use the same questions year after year, while other admissions committees engage in some soul-searching of their own over the merit of the questions they pose. Mary Tipton Woolley, Associate Director of Admissions for the Georgia Institute of Technology, says that the admissions staff reviews the essay questions each year to "evaluate how well they helped us get to know the students in the admission process" [source: Woolley].

Is there a way to find out what essay questions colleges are asking before you start the application process? Would it relieve some of your stress, or help you focus your search on fewer colleges, if you knew what essays you'll have to write? Read on to learn where to look.