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CEA’s Guide to the 2022-23 Candidate Essays for The Taft School

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The Taft School, located in Watertown, Connecticut, asks applicants to pen four essays of 200-300 words each as part of their application submission. Let’s dig in to find out what these prompts are really asking!

The following short essay prompts should be completed by the student using 200-300 words each.

What is your favorite book read in the past year and why?

Starting with a fun one! Maybe your sister gave you her old copy of The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and you read it in a day (and then cried for three days when you-know-what happened). Perhaps you love it because of the way it made you feel or the opportunity it gave you to connect with your sister. Maybe you devoured One of Us Is Lying last year and discovered your love for mysteries (and haven’t been without your Kindle since). Whichever book you choose, make sure to answer the “why” part of the question. Let admissions get to know you on a deeper level, and you will have answered this prompt well!

Describe a challenge you have faced recently and describe what you learned from conquering or failing to conquer that challenge.

When writing about a challenge you’ve faced, you’ll want to aim to showcase qualities like resilience, determination, and humility. The challenge you choose to explore can be as constant as navigating life in a marginalized and policed body, as serious as the immigration barriers that your family has faced for years, as simple as a single mistake that frayed a friendship, or as unexpected as the aftermath of a TikTok going viral. While the possibilities are almost endless, students should be careful not to choose challenges that may seem trite (for example, the inability to achieve an A on a quiz) or that illustrate a lapse in good judgment (that time you borrowed your brother’s skateboard and left it out in the rain 🥶).

Your reflection on what you have learned and how you have grown will be a source of great insight for admissions, and you want to make sure your essay highlights those intangible qualities that don’t show up anywhere else on your application.

Describe your ideal roommate/roommates. 

Although this question is asking about someone else, it’s really asking about you. SNEAKY! The kind of roommate you choose says something about what you value. Feel free to have some fun with this. Maybe your ideal roommate would be someone with excellent fashion taste who just so happens to be the exact same size as you. Perhaps your ideal roommate is someone who also likes to study after dinner and be in bed before ten! While the question is not asking “why” here, it’s good for you to know why before answering. 

Taft students come from over 50 countries and a multitude of ethnicities, religions, and cultures. How do you envision learning from and contributing to the experience of your new friends in the Taft community? 

Admissions wants to gauge your interest level in interacting with those who are different from you. The Taft School experience is so much more than what happens in the classroom; it’s also the connections that are built and lessons learned outside of it. So, tell admissions a little bit about how you envision yourself growing as a result of communing with a diverse student body and how you will contribute to this community in turn. You might want to spend a little time on the Taft website to learn more about extracurricular activities offered, clubs you can join, and other opportunities for getting involved. Whether you write about sharing your grandma’s brownie recipe with the Animal Humane Society (bake sale, anyone?!) or teaching your res hall friends the art of “yes, and” that you honed in Improv Club, make sure your response to this prompt shows that you have put some serious thought into what your life will look like at Taft, should you be accepted.

Want to work one-on-one with an Advisor from our team to draft compelling responses?
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