This post is another in my series on how to address the college application essay prompts from the Coalition App. This year, you have five prompts from which to choose as an anchor for your essay. Each prompts presents its unique possibilities and challenges. Today we will look at the “belief challenged” prompt. This prompt asks you to think hard about yourself and what you believe in, how that belief has held up through challenges, and how it has affected you as a person.
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?
Belief or Idea
This prompt hinges on some belief or value that you hold dear. At the core of the story, you must be able to identify this closely-held belief and explain why it is important to you.
At various times in our lives, we are called upon to defend our ideals or our principles, either because others don’t share these beliefs, or because you may hold a view that is unpopular or out of the ordinary. Your story in this essay revolves around a time when you were called upon to defend your belief against some countervailing force. This force could come from a particular person, a small group of people, or maybe even a very large group of people. What animates this essay, then, is the tension or conflict between your belief and the beliefs of others.
The “story” at the heart of this essay is the genesis of the tension, how you came to realize it, and how you came to a decision to do or say something in response (or not). Given that your values were under fire, did you do or say something to defend those values? Why or why not? You want to make the effort to explain your thought processes that eventually led to some sort of decision, action, or realization.
Affect Your Beliefs
The decision, action, or realization you made is the outcome of the story. You want to be sure to describe the outcome. Don’t stop there, however: explain and analyze that outcome. Was the decision the right one? Did you act to defend your values, and if so, what was the result? Perhaps you acted in a way that did not defend those values, and you later regretted your inability to stand up for your beliefs. Either way, you are asked in this prompt to reflect upon what you did (or did not do) to defend your beliefs or ideas, and to determine whether you would approach a similar conflict of beliefs or ideas in the same way in the future.
Educational consultant and admissions expert