College and university applications often require the applicant to respond to a variety of questions pertaining to the applicant's personal background, beliefs, accomplishments or failures, as stated by the Princeton Review. Popular questions include "Why do you want to attend this school? and "What is a book you love?"
Many schools are members of a system known as the Common Application that allows an applicant to apply to any of the 517 member colleges and universities. The Common App requires applicants to write only one essay, chosen by the applicant from a list of five prompts that change every year. Essay prompts for the 2015/2016 Common Application included questions asking the applicant to discuss an accomplishment that marked her transition from childhood to adulthood, to reflect on a time when she challenged a belief or idea, or describe a problem she has solved or would like to solve.
Individual schools often require additional essays or short answer responses in which an applicant is required to respond to additional questions set by the school. These questions tend to be more specific and direct, asking applicants to list the personal and academic qualifications that make them an appropriate fit to attend a certain college or university.