When I applied to college, I recall that the essay (note that I said, “the essay" not “the essays" [plural]) prompt asked “Why do you want to attend [here]?" Granted, that prompt, or some variant thereof, appears on most college applications today, but there is most always a fleet of other prompts to torture even the most gifted writers' imaginations and patience. Many rising high school seniors use the summer to ponder their essays and some are fooled into thinking that the Common Application's relatively light writing requirement is all they'll have to tackle. Then, some of those less-well-informed applicants stumble onto the dreaded Common App supplements from their candidate schools, which pile on a few more perilous prompts.
Speaking of prompts, I came across a very interesting and sometimes hilarious article about the ridiculous and sometimes pompous nature of application essay questions. Peter Jacobs, writing in Yahoo! Finance's Business Insider calls out The 15 Most Ridiculous College Application Questions. This subject has always been a pet peeve of mine. Granted, I think that's it's a good thing for a college to plumb the depths of an applicant's creativity and resourcefulness, not to mention his or her writing ability. However, sometimes the prompt itself can challenge the length of the actual essay itself. For example, check out this Common Application supplemental essay prompt from this year's Princeton University application: