How can I come up with ideas for my College Admission Essay? I am having trouble coming up with a topic. I am just looking for some ideas.

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The best college admissions topics highlight your strengths and demonstrate why having you there would benefit the college.

Think of your college admissions essay as an advertisement.  It is designed to tell as much about you as possible.  The college admissions officers are trying to get a more complete picture of you as an applicant.  What do they want from you?  They want you to be successful.  They want to know that if they admit you, you will do well.  You will be an asset to the student body.  You will get good grades.  You will be involved.  You will go off someday and make a name for yourself, and all of the goodwill you generate will make the college look good too.

Most colleges will give you a few topics to choose from, but some will offer you only very vague instructions.  Regardless of the topic, your job is the same.  You need to transmit your personality through the document.  When the admissions officer reads it, it will ooze your individuality.  It needs to be impressive, but not boastful.

Since you have not given us a specific topic, here are some general tips for ANY essay.

 1.  Keep it short but meaty.  Your essay should be an expressway, not a meandering country road.  Remember that admissions officers have thousands of these things to read.   Most essays have word limits.  DO NOT go over.  This will seriously hurt you.

 Stand out.  How can you distinguish yourself from the thousands?  You need to make an impression as quickly as possible.  The very first sentence should grab the reader, capture your personality, and make it clear what your essay is about all in one.   Here is an example:

 Five million girls in our world do not have access to an education.  I want to attend _____ (college) to put a dent in that number.  I have already ……

 3.       Say Something!  Whatever you do, don’t make your essay a series of vague references or clichés.  Focus on what makes you special.  Don’t talk about how your dog died or when you ran for student body president unless it really was the defining moment of your life so far.  Make it clear that you are important.  Tell them what you have done.  Everyone has something.  Ask your friends and family what makes you special if you can’t think of anything.

 4.       No errors.  Absolutely NO ERRORS!!!!  Proofread.  Print it out and read it another day, and proofread.  Give it to parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, cousins, neighbors, teachers, friends, and anyone else.  The more eyes on your paper, the better it will be.

5.       Turn it in on time.  Enough side.

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billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

A college application essay is, of course, an extremely important piece of writing. In addition to what litteacher8 says above, I would like to add one suggestion. You don't have to write the entire essay in one sitting or in one day. You can make it easier on yourself if you break the job up into a number of small tasks. If you are having trouble writing that essay, or any other essay, you should try setting an easy daily word quota. Little strokes fell great oaks. Divide and conquer. Try giving yourself a quota of only one hundred words a day, with the promise that after you have finished those hundred words you can forget about the project for a whole day. Of course, you have to take your deadline into account.

I might also mention that in a college application essay it seems advisable to say something about your future plans. What sort of career do you envision for yourself? 

Wiggin42's profile pic

Wiggin42 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Valedictorian

Posted on

This is quite a nerve wracking task. We're told that its our essays that make us stand out in a pile of applications. More and more, the application essays border on the line of creative writing which is completely different from what high school students are taught for 4 years: argumentative, exposition, persuasive, etc. Admissions officers want to hear your unique voice. Pick a topic that reflects you. My friend wrote about her favorite Marvel superheroes (and she got accepted! The admissions officer even sent a hand written note in the mail about how much she loved the essay). The point here is that if you pick something you love, you will write about it much better than if you picked something because it " sounds good " .

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