On the Common Application, a number of colleges have begun to require that students respond to a supplemental essay question that sounds something like this:

Tell us a bit more about a community you are a part of.

Yep, it’s that simple.  

Here is the exact wording from a few schools:

University of Michigan: “Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. (250 words)”

Duke University: “We seek a talented, engaged student body that embodies the wide range of human experience; we believe that the diversity of our students makes our community stronger. If you’d like to share a perspective you bring or experiences you’ve had to help us understand you better–perhaps related to a community you belong to, your sexual orientation or gender identity, or your family or cultural background–we encourage you to do so. Real people are reading your application, and we want to do our best to understand and appreciate the real people applying. (250 words)

Brown University: “Tell us about a place or community you call home. How has it shaped your perspective? (250 words)

I love this essay question. 

Why? Because, while this essay is largely  asking about your place within that community, it is a great opportunity to share more about you, and how you will most likely engage with that community (or other communities) on your future college campus.

It’s a chance to say: “Here’s how I connect with folks in this community. And if accepted to your college, I’ll probably be active in getting involved with that same community and others on your college campus.”

And colleges want students who are going to be active in engaging with their community.