College Application Essay Prompts 2012 Ford


Undergraduate applications are due by February 1 of each year. Students will be notified about admissions decisions by the end of March.


Before beginning the program, students must have junior standing at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and must complete the following prerequisites:

  • Principles of Economics I (Econ 101)
  • Principles of Economics II (Econ 102)*
  • One course from Race and Ethnicity (RE)
  • One introductory social science course, such as Systematic Thinking about Problems of the Day (PUBPOL 201)
    • Click here to view the full list of classes that would fulfill this requirement.

*Students must receive a C- or better in any prerequisite and core courses.

Apply online

The short application form can be completed online, and is available beginning in November. The application involves a series of questions, two short essays, a resume, and a transcript, as described below: 

  • Essay #1: Background essay.
  • Essay #2: Policy topic essay.
  • Resume: Upload an up-to-date resume, with extracurricular activities, past work experiences, internships, student leadership positions, volunteer work, etc.
  • Transcript: An unofficial copy of your University of Michigan transcript is required.**

Please upload all documents in Microsoft Word, PDF, or plain text format.

* Most applicants to the undergraduate program complete all prerequisites in advance of their application; however, there is some flexibility. Please feel free to contact us to discuss.

** Additional transcripts are required for any college-level coursework completed outside the University of Michigan. 

Information sessions

Want to learn more about the undergraduate program at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy? Join us at one of the following information sessions:

Freshman BA Information Session
Date: Monday, March 12, 2018
Time: 12:00 - 1:00 PM
Location: Betty Ford Classroom(1110 Weill Hall, 735 S. State Street)

The Common Application has announced that the 2018-2019 personal essay writing prompts will be the same as the seven 2017-2018 essay prompts. By conducting a review process every other year, rather than annually, we can hear from admissions officers, as well as applicants, parents, and counselors, about the effectiveness of the essay prompts. 

With the announcement of the essay prompts and the ability for applicants to roll over their Common App account each year, counselors can introduce their juniors to the Common App now to help them start thinking about the application process. For more information, go to Common App Ready, a series of ready-to-use resources, presentations, training videos, and handouts covering everything from account creation through submission. Last year, we expanded this free tool with Spanish language translations. 

2018-2019 Common Application Essay Prompts

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 obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? 

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? 

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, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. 

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? 

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. 

The most popular essay prompt of the 2017-2018 application year (through January 5, 2018) is "Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth..." (23.6%), followed by the topic of your choice option (22.5%), and "Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful..." (21.4%). 

"Through the Common App essay prompts, we want to give all applicants - regardless of background or access to counseling - the opportunity to share their voice with colleges. Every applicant has a unique story. The essay helps bring that story to life," said Meredith Lombardi, Associate Director, Outreach and Education, for The Common Application.

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