How to Write the Coalition Application Essay

Writing the coalition essays
May 6, 2024
6 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 8/9/23

Are you wondering how to write the Coalition Application essay? Stick around to learn expert tips and tricks for addressing each prompt. 

If you’re aware of the Coalition Application essay, you may have also heard how much weight they can carry in your application. While applying to college, your essays are the main arena for you to make a compelling argument on behalf of your acceptance, so it’s important to get them right!

That said, consider the Coalition Application essay as exciting opportunities for self-expression. Here you can tell your story, highlight your accomplishments, and discuss your aspirations. Admissions advisors can absolutely be swayed to vote in your favor with a powerful essay, which is why we’re here to help.

Here we’ll guide you through our step-by-step guide on how to approach the Coalition Application essay. We’ll discuss everything from comprehending prompts to crafting an intriguing introduction and impactful conclusion.

Let’s get started!

Coalition Application Essay Prompts

The Coalition Application essay prompts are as follows: 

Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
What interests or excites you? How does it shape who you are now or who you might become in the future?
Describe a time when you had a positive impact on others. What were the challenges? What were the rewards?
Has there been a time when an idea or belief of yours was questioned? How did you respond? What did you learn?
What success have you achieved or obstacles have you faced? What advice would you give a sibling or friend going through a similar experience?
Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

Each of these prompts exist as an option to help inspire you. From them, you may select one and write around 500–650 words on the subject. Half the battle is choosing the right prompt, that will allow you to tell your story as effortlessly as possible.

A student with headphones writing an essay

How to Write the Coalition Application Essay

Once you’ve chosen your prompt, take a look at the tips below to help you craft your narrative.

Looking for full length essay examples? Take a look at our Essay Database!

Prompt 1: “Tell a Story From Your Life, Describing an Experience That Either Demonstrates Your Character or Helped to Shape It.”

The first prompt asks you to tell a story from your life, but you shouldn’t choose just any story. It's important to choose one that showcases your values, strengths, and/or personal growth. Here are some tips to help you craft a strong response to the first prompt:

First, choose a relevant story. Think of a life experience that significantly impacted your personal development. Your moment could be a challenge you overcame, a time you failed to achieve a goal, or a decision you made—as long as it highlights your key qualities and how you grew from the experience. 

Once you’ve chosen your story, it’s time to set the scene. Start your essay by answering some important questions for the reader. Where were you? When was this? What was your state of mind? Next, you can dive into the meat of the story.

Describe the experience and reflect on how it changed you. Your actual retelling of events should be tailored and to the point. You can elaborate more on what happened because of the situation internally. Remember, your goal is to highlight your key qualities and provide insight into your character—not to get hung up on details!

Finish on a high note. Your conclusion should tie together your story and your reflection, while also looking toward the future. How has your experience made you who you are? How will it ultimately help you with your future goals? You’re not only making a case for why you’re a good fit for your program, but also how you’ll contribute to society beyond school.

Prompt 2: “What Interests or Excites You? How Does It Shape Who You Are Now or Who You Might Become in the Future?”

Here the admissions committee wants you to discuss your passions, how they shape your identity, and how they contribute to your future aspirations. Here’s how to respond to the second prompt:

First, identify your passions. Your areas of interest may say more about you than you think! Everything you spend your time on contributes to your personality and key traits, even if it doesn’t seem to directly relate to your degree. For example, learning piano for 10 years is still relevant to a non-music degree because it shows determination and the ability to self-motivate. 

Explain why your interests are meaningful to you and how it has shaped your identity. How did you first discover your interest? How have you noticed your dedication to this interest impacting you? Consider skill development such as teamwork, leadership, self-discipline, creativity, open-mindedness, trust, etc. 

Finally, touch on how your interests will impact your future. Tie the things you’ve learned from the passion into your future aspirations. How can these skills make you a better student, or a better professional later on? Always end on a hopeful note.

Prompt 3: “Describe a Time When You Had a Positive Impact on Others. What Were the Challenges? What Were the Rewards?”

Here you should demonstrate your ability to make a positive difference in the lives of others. This can be a tricky one, as crafting an essay about your positive impact can sound braggy quite easily. Here’s how to approach this prompt: 

Consider a time you helped others. This could be a  volunteer experience, personal experience with friends or family, or even a professional situation. Make sure that whichever situation you choose, you avoid appointing yourself as the “hero.” The situation should mainly focus on your attitude entering the situation vs. afterwards.

It is important to reflect on the challenges you faced during this situation. If you only talk about how great you are, there’s not much of a story to be told. What obstacles did you encounter? What did the person you helped teach you? How will you approach similar situations differently moving forward?

Discuss the personal rewards of your positive impact. Remember, the admissions committee wants to learn about your character. Being “nice” says much less about you than the ability to be introspective, and learning/growing from your past. 

Prompt 4: “Has There Been a Time When an Idea or Belief of Yours Was Questioned? How Did You Respond? What Did You Learn?”

If you’ve chosen this prompt, be careful not to talk about something too controversial—you never know who will be reading your essay. However, this essay is also an excellent opportunity to demonstrate open-mindedness and critical thinking. If you’re writing this prompt, here’s how to respond:

Think of a time an idea or belief of yours was questioned. This could be a personal experience, a classroom discussion, or a professional situation. Make sure to choose a situation where your beliefs were challenged in a significant enough way to write a story about it. 

Set the scene by describing the situation in detail. What was the context? Who were the people involved? What was the argument or discussion about? Then, describe how you responded to the challenge to your belief or idea. Did you become defensive or open-minded? What steps did you take to engage in the conversation or argument? There’s no wrong answers.

Reflect on what the experience taught you. Did your beliefs or values change as a result of the conversation? What did you learn about yourself, the other person, or the topic? How did this experience shape your perspective moving forward? As always, conclude with a strong message that ties in your new way of thinking. 

Prompt 5: “What Success Have You Achieved or Obstacles Have You Faced? What Advice Would You Give a Sibling or Friend Going Through a Similar Experience?”

If you’ve chosen this prompt, you should demonstrate your ability to reflect and learn from your experiences and provide advice to others. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Identify an experience where you faced an obstacle, or even failed! There’s nothing wrong with failing, in fact, it shows great strength to discuss a time you failed and carried on regardless. This could be a personal experience, a volunteer activity, or a professional situation. Choose an experience that was significant and that you learned a lot from.

Next, describe the situation. What was the context? Who were the people involved? What were the challenges you faced? Don’t spend too much time here, the important part is what happened after. 

Describe your response to the situation, why you responded that way, and what you would do differently now. Again, there’s no shame in failing! Everyone does it. The trick here is to reflect on what you learned from the experience. Explain how this experience shaped your perspective moving forward, and changed you as a person. 

Don’t forget to provide advice! Remember, we’re still answering a prompt here. Based on your experience, explain what advice you would give to a sibling or friend who is going through a similar experience. What strategies or tools can they use to achieve success or overcome the obstacle? How can they cope with the situation in a positive and productive way?

Finally, finish on a high note. Conclude your essay by leaving the reader with the main message of your story. What do you want the reader to take away from your essay? What advice would you give to others who face challenges or obstacles in their lives?

Prompt 6: “Submit an Essay on a Topic of Your Choice.”

This prompt may seem like the easiest road, but it may actually be the most challenging. While the previous prompts have given you a solid jumping off point, this open-ended prompt is truly up for your interpretation. Our advice? Only choose this prompt if writing is a particular skill of yours, and you want to write a piece that wouldn’t answer any of the prompts above.

Tips to Write the Coalition Application Essay

Now that we’ve gone over the prompts, let’s discuss how to answer them successfully. Here we’ll go over some of our expert tips on how to write the Coalition Application essay. 

1. Choose Your Prompts Wisely

As mentioned above, you won’t have to answer each prompt and you have the option to choose which one you answer. Choose a prompt that you immediately connect with, and that is easy to answer using your relevant life experiences. Consider the following questions when choosing your prompt:

  • What experiences do I have that relate to this prompt?
  • How can I craft a compelling story using my relevant experience?
  • What qualities does this story highlight?

Make sure to avoid repeating yourself. If the story you want to use to answer a chosen prompt uses something that is already on your resume, ensure that you’re providing new information in relation to it.

2. Keep Your Goals In Mind

Your essay is an excellent place to express who you are and what you’re hoping to get out of your degree and out of life. When you’re writing your essay, ensure to present traits that align with the degree you’re interested in and the career goals you have. 

For example, if you’re interested in politics, you should demonstrate leadership traits and through your essay. In contrast, someone who is interested in research should demonstrate the ability to self-motivate and investigate their interests.

3. Make Sure Your Essay Answers the Prompt

This may go without saying, but it’s important to check back with the prompt throughout the writing process to ensure your essay answers it fully. There’s nothing worse than pouring your heart into an impactful essay only to realize at the end that you didn’t fully answer the questions asked in the prompt!

A frustrated student at her laptop

Which Coalition App Essay Prompt Is the Best to Choose?

Choosing the best prompt for you can be a challenging feat, but it can have a major impact on the success of your paper. Here we’ll go over factors to help you decide which prompt to choose.

Consider Your Life Experiences

While brainstorming, write out several stories you feel have shaped who you are as your first step. Even just a few sentences on a variety of impactful situations will help you decide which among them means the most to you, and is the easiest to write about. 

This will help you be able to choose a prompt that fits your life, rather than choosing a prompt first and trying to figure the story out after. There are multiple prompt options for the Coalition Application for this exact reason!

Trust Your Gut

When you read each prompt - does one stick out? Did you immediately have a feeling that one prompt excited you more than others? Or even that you knew how you’d answer it? Often, our mind has a way of making connections naturally, and you shouldn’t fight it here. Trust your gut and choose the prompt that speaks to you!

FAQs: Coalition Application Essay

Here are our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Coalition Application essay. 

1. Does Coalition Application Have an Essay?

Yes, the Coalition Application includes an essay component. The Coalition Application provides multiple prompts and asks candidates to choose one and answer in 500–650 words. It also can require an additional essay for certain colleges depending on their individual requirements. 

2. How Do You Write a Coalition Essay?

Writing the Coalition Application essay requires introspection, creativity, careful planning, and self-discipline. You must ensure that your essay demonstrates your character and goals through a story of your choosing, while answering the prompt.

3. How Many Words Should a Coalition App Essay Be?

When writing the Coalition essay, you must stay within the 500–650 word limit. If you go over the word count, the admissions committee may stop reading your essay early which can result in a bad impression. 

4. How Long Does the Coalition Essay Have to Be?

The Coalition essay has a word count of about 500-650 words, which means that your essay should be no more than 650 words in total. If you’re wondering how long the coalition application essay can be, try to remain under 10 words over or above the word count.

Final Thoughts

Writing the Coalition essay doesn’t have to be a scary feat. By following our expert tips, you can craft a compelling essay for your application that showcases your unique character traits, and highlights your potential. 

Remember to respond to each sentence in the essay prompts, spend plenty of time brainstorming, and focus on your personal development. We’re confident that with our tips, you can tell your story and stand out among the thousands of other applicants.

Good luck!

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