Focus on: Personal Essay Question 4 – Your Favorite Spot

My Favorite SpotPart 5 of Katrina Oko-Odoi’s Guest Blog Series: Writing your College Admissions Essay for the New Common Application

In earlier topics, we’ve touched on how the new changes to the 2014 Common Application will affect you, and we’ve addressed essay questions one through three. In order to help you determine which question fits you best, today we will discuss essay question number four.

The Basics:

Originality is key. Make sure you differentiate yourself from the competition.

-When writing your first draft, aim for around 500 words. After revisions, it’s likely that you’ll be closer to the 650 limit.

-Keep in mind that your essay is a supplement to the rest of your application. Try not to repeat what’s already been stated elsewhere; tell the story behind the test scores and GPA.

Common Application Question # 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?”

Is this question right for you?

Remember to take the time to read through all of the essay topics before choosing which one best suits you. Question #4 seems like one of the most straightforward essay prompts for the Common Application, but don’t let the simple question fool you! Everyone has a favorite place, so the key here is to determine whether your place or environment is unique or demonstrates something unique about your identity. So, this question might be ideal for you if your special place is unexpected or surprising to the reader. It would also be the perfect choice for you if your place or environment reflects a unique quality about yourself that you want to emphasize.

Consider the following scenarios:

  • Do you have a special place that you used to go in your childhood? What does this place reflect about you as a person now, versus how you were beforehand?
  • Does your perfect place or environment reveal one of your passions? Perhaps it’s an aquarium, which reveals your fascination with the ocean and marine biology. Or maybe it’s an old museum in your hometown, revealing your love of history.

The right answer for every applicant is different, and you need to draw from your own personal experiences to find the perfect question for you. If you realize that your special place might be a good reflection of you, let it marinate for a while until you come up with the most persuasive approach to share something important about yourself with the selections committee.

Don’t miss my next blog on Common Application Essay Question # 5.

Katrina Oko-Odoi is the Founder and Chief Editor of, a writing and editing company specializing in academic writing. For more insight into college essay editing and more, follow her blog:

Bobby Touran is the founder and CEO of ApplyKit. ApplyKit helps students manage their entire college application process and also provides key resources to help them excel every step of the way.