College Application Essay Tips: topics, topics, topics!
College Essay Topics
Last week we discussed how to get started on the college essay. Getting started is often one of the hardest parts of the writing process. There are so many resources offering tips and advice that it’s hard to weed through and figure out what information comes from valid resources. If you missed last week’s blog post, you can find it here.
This week, we focus on essay topics! There are so many college essay prompts in the college application sphere. You have the University of California personal insight questions, the Common Application essay prompts, the Coalition essay prompts, Apply Texas essay topics, and let’s not forget that some schools choose to forge their own path with their own application prompts! With all of these essays, how do you know which prompt to choose, but before that, what do you even write about?! Below are a few quick tips to develop the best topic for your essay!
College Essay Topics
Try to avoid sports injury essays – it’s just so cliché now.
I know that a lot of students define their high school career by the sports they play and that’s okay! Whether you are a one-season athlete or a three-season athlete, it’s a huge part of your life. However, when it comes to your college essay, I’m just going to lay it out there… don’t write about the time you broke your toe, you had a game-winning chance to score and you missed, or you took a hard hit, came tumbling down and tore your ACL. I know these can be defining moments for you but let me tell you how many essays I read when I worked in admissions that included topics just like these… HUNDREDS.
Hundreds of students write about the same thing and the problem is that it’s not original. You aren’t standing out and helping college admissions to understand who you are. If you want to write about your life-altering sport’s injury, then get creative. Pick a small part of this story and expand on a moment where you learned something. Were you in the hospital? Was it the kindness of one doctor? Was it the moment you realized you wouldn’t be able to see your favorite dog for a few weeks? What did that mean to you? What were you feeling?
Activities resume versus your essay.
The activities you participate in high school are important and you’ve worked hard these past four years choosing activities you love, helping grow your passions. However, your college essay is not the place to list all your accomplishments. Remember, you have an entire section of your college application to list these in the activities section, and the essay is the one part of your application where you get to talk about YOU - a defining moment, your character, your view on leadership, a value that is rare among your friends, whatever it is, the essay is where you get to write about it. Take the opportunity to bring a new dimension to your application.
Give the reader a glimpse into your life.
Think about something you really love, something in your life that makes you laugh, or what defines your place in your family? Do you have a favorite vacation, a family meal, or whatever you believe defines you. Admissions counselors want to know you and to understand what your life is like. Maybe flash your sense of humor in your essay, but keep it appropriate. Swearing in your essay isn’t the best idea, leave it out. Perhaps you like having philosophical debates, portray that in your essay. Remember to show, not tell.
Little details mean a lot.
Admissions counselors understand that you’re in high school and still have your whole life ahead of you, so it’s okay if you don’t have it all figured out right now, or have a defining moment to write about! Just be honest in your writing, share the little things that mean a lot. The small things are what make up your character, your personality, and the person you are becoming.
Finding motivation in your senior year certainly isn’t easy, but this isn’t the time for excuses. Set aside some time twice a week that you can dedicate to working on your essay. Decide on an actual block of time, set a timer, and leave your phone in another room. Social media can be a huge distraction and you want to avoid letting anything into your quiet space that will take away from your end goal. Be proactive and get motivated to work!
Now go find a quiet space, put your headphones in, and start writing!