Essay Prompts

An essay is required for first-year (freshmen) applicants and may be requested for other applicants. Essays should be approximately 250-600 words (about a page in length) and should be in Microsoft Word or PDF format.

Select from one of the prompts below:

  1. Catawba College seeks to embody the ideals of Scholarship (academic pursuits), Character (ethical behavior), Culture (exposure to artistic endeavors), and Service (campus and community outreach). Our campus community of students, faculty and staff share these core values. Please reflect on these four ideals and tell us which one (1) of these resonates most strongly with you and why. As a prospective member of the Catawba community, how do you hope to "live" your chosen ideal?
  2. If you were assured you would not fail, what endeavor would you attempt?
  3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again knowing what you know now? Why or why not?

You may also choose to submit the Common Application Essay instead of one of the Catawba Essay prompts.

Below is the full set of Common Application essay prompts for 2021-2022:

  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 please 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.

Submissions will be accepted in any of the following ways:

  1. Upload to our admission portal.
  2. Email:
  3. Fax: 704-637-4222
  4. Mail: Catawba College Office of Admissions, 2300 W. Innes St., Salisbury, NC 28144.

Note: Please be sure your full name and date of birth are included, so we can accurately match essay to applicant record.