2023 Common Reading

The Common Reading Program is part of TCU’s welcome week, Frogs First. This first-year common experience will take place on Saturday, August 19. In preparation for the experience, please review the information below and submit your essay before August 10. Essay submission link and contact information can be found at the bottom of this page.


Dear Horned Frogs:

Welcome to TCU! Over the next few years, you will discover many traditions that form an essential part of the TCU experience. The Common Reading Program—a shared learning experience for all incoming students—is one of those traditions. Through interactive group discussions led by world-class faculty and staff, the Common Reading offers your first glimpse into our TCU community. It also provides a point of unity amid the rich diversity of the incoming class. We hope this program will allow you to learn about TCU’s Visions and Values, spark meaningful conversations and create bonds that will last throughout your time at TCU and beyond.

This year the Common Reading Program for first-year students is inspired by the 1950s radio program This I Believe. The This I Believe project and subsequent publications invited individuals from all walks of life to write about and discuss the core beliefs that guide their daily lives. Many remarkable people have shared their personal philosophies as part of the This I Believe project including Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Helen Keller, Bill Gates, and Gloria Steinem. Over 125,000 essays have been written by people across the globe.

As a first-year student, you will be asked to read various This I Believe essays, reflect on your personal beliefs and values, and create your very own personal philosophy. This opportunity will give you a chance to write about something that matters to you, as you begin of your college experience at TCU in our 150th year.

To better understand TCU and our Vision and Values, we encourage you to explore our past, embrace our present, and see how Horned Frogs will impact the future.

All incoming first-year students are required to complete the following items by August 10:


Submit Your Essay

Common Reading Requirements

Read or listen to selected essays from the This I Believe project by clicking the button below.  Inspired? Read more essays on the This I Believe website.

Read the Essays

Reflect on your personal beliefs and values. Take some time to reflect on what is important to you today. After reading the essays, what would you say in five hundred words to capture a core principle that guides your life? Can you name a belief that underlies your actions? In the discovered truths of your experience, what abides?

Learn about TCU and our vision and values.  First explore TCU’s history and take a tour of TCU. Then browse stories that highlight TCU’s vision and our shared values.

Explore academics and your college vision and values.  Click HERE to learn more about your college’s visions and values.

Write and submit your This I Believe essay.

  • Tell a story about you: Be specific. Take your belief out of the ether and ground it in the events that have shaped your core values. Consider moments when your belief was formed or tested or changed. Think of your own experience, work, and family, and tell of the things you know that no one else does. Your story need not be heart-warming or gut-wrenching—it can even be funny—but it should be real. Make sure your story ties to the essence of your daily life philosophy and the shaping of your beliefs.
  • Be brief: Your statement should be between 500 and 600 words. That’s about three minutes when read aloud at your natural pace.
  • Name your belief: If you can’t name it in a sentence or two, your essay might not be about belief. Also, rather than writing a list, consider focusing on one core belief.
  • Be positive: Write about what you do believe, not what you don’t believe. Avoid statements of religious dogma, preaching, or editorializing.
  • Be personal: Make your essay about you; speak in the first person. Avoid speaking in the editorial “we.” Tell a story from your own life; this is not an opinion piece about social ideals. Write in words and phrases that are comfortable for you to speak. We recommend you read your essay aloud to yourself several times, and each time edit it and simplify it until you find the words, tone, and story that truly echo your belief and the way you speak.

The Common Reading Program is part of TCU’s welcome week, Frogs First. This first-year common experience will take place on Saturday, August 19. In preparation for the experience, please submit your essay before August 10.


Click or scan the QR code to submit essay:


Questions concerning the Common Reading Program? Feel free to email us at commonreading@tcu.edu. We look forward to welcoming you to campus this fall!