First-Year Admission Writing Prompts and Requirements

Three students sit at a table with laptops in the Bollier Center for Integrated Science and Engineering.  They are smiling at one another.
GU students studying in Bollier

July 28, 2023
Becky Stockton

Fall is quickly approaching, so it’s time for first-year students to start filling out the Common Application if you plan to apply for Fall 2024 admission! The Common App is a fantastic resource that allows students to fill out one application that is then sent to all the schools they select. The Common App will ask you to complete a few different aspects, including an essay. There are a few different prompts which you can choose from: 

  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 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. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  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. 

In addition to your Common App essay, many colleges and universities, including Gonzaga, require an additional supplemental question. For Gonzaga’s question, we do not require this to be the same length as your essay. This is a short answer question instead. The two prompts for you to choose from are:  

  1. How have your experiences as an individual, personal background, education, and upbringing affected your short and long-term goals? 
  2. Gonzaga’s Presidential Speaker’s Series invites leaders from around the world (such as LTC Olga Custodio, America’s first Latina military pilot or Cotopaxi founder Davis Smith) to share their work and passions with the GU community. If you were able to invite any living person to come and speak to the GU community, who would it be? Why would you want to invite them?


When completing your essay and supplemental question, be sure to check for correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar. It’s easy to miss the little things when you are the one writing. I encourage students to have another person read their writing before submitting to catch any errors that they may have missed. When our admission staff review your application, we are looking for solid writing skills to demonstrate your learning in your many years of English and writing classes. You do not need to write a novel, but do submit your best work!  


Good luck as you complete your application! Reach out to your Admission Counselor if you have any questions or concerns. To see our admission staff and their territories/responsibilities, check out our Meet Your Counselor page.