College Coach Survey Reveals That 75 Percent of Students Accepted To Ivy League Colleges Responded to the Same Common App Prompt

april fool%27s!April 1, 2015—In a startling discovery, College Coach’s nationwide survey of high school students who were accepted to Ivy League colleges almost overwhelmingly wrote their essays in response to prompt number 4, “Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?”

In other survey results, we found the following:

  • 10 percent responded to prompt number five, “Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.”
  • 9 percent to prompt number one, “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.”
  • 4 percent to prompt number two, “Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?”

Only one percent of all accepted applicants chose prompt number three, “Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?” Strangely, prompt one resulted in the highest number of waitlist offers.

“We’ve long known that the prompt students choose is far more important than the essay itself. It almost doesn’t matter what students write!” shared College Coach spokesperson, Elizabeth Heaton. “We were thrilled when our survey results supported that anecdotal assessment.”

For those students looking for the best way to ensure their acceptance to the Ivy League, it seems like prompt four is the way to go. But not so fast: the Common App’s new essay prompts for 2015-2016 were released yesterday, and prompt four has been replaced by a new question. So it’s back to the drawing board for everyone.

College Coach emailed more than 200,000 students across the country who graduated in 2014 or 2015, asking them two questions: which prompt did you respond to on the Common App, and where were you accepted? Final results were tabulated in the wee hours of April 1, 2015, as the Ivy League schools, including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Cornell, Dartmouth, Columbia, and the University of Pennsylvania, released their decisions to the class of 2019.

For more information about the survey, and to see the full results, click here.

Written by College Coach