How to Choose an Engaging College Admissions Essay Topic
So you’ve procrastinated to this point in writing your college application essay because you just cannot come up with a good topic. You may be thinking, I’ve never scored the playoff winning touchdown, or gone on a life-changing mission trip to Uganda, or even won the school-wide spelling bee; whatever will I write about and wherever will I go to college?! Fear not! I am here to tell you that you need not have accomplished any of these in order to write an outstanding essay. In fact, you may have accomplished all of these things and could still find a better, simpler, more engaging topic. Now stick with me on this next part because it might sound crazy, but you could write a college admission worthy essay about… wait for it… your garage... or about your daily drive to school...or even about your dog. Before you stop reading and decide that this is bonkers, hear me out.
The topic of your essay does not matter as long as it is unique and demonstrates qualities about you that can’t be found elsewhere in your application. This year, an applicant was accepted to Yale after writing an essay about her love for ordering pizza; not a topic many would think to consider when applying to an Ivy League, or even their state university for that matter. However, the topic was unique, the essay was well written, and the reader learned things about the applicant that could not be found anywhere else in her application.
Another essay that I love, Outgrowing the Garage, was written by a Johns Hopkins applicant who describes his garage and the role it played in shaping his goals for the future. The reader gains insight into who the applicant is, as well as his interests, and he shows how he is a strong fit with the university. Again, a garage might not seem like the most dazzling choice for an essay topic, but the writer crafts a unique and engaging essay that grabs the reader’s attention from the start. This student does an excellent job of showing, not just telling, who he is in this top notch essay.
If you are having trouble coming up with an essay topic, start by brainstorming a list of strengths. Think of examples to support each one. Ask friends and family members who know you well to provide you with five strengths or positive qualities they recognize in you. For each essay you write, aim to convey at least one of these strengths to the reader. Be sure that you are showing them an aspect of you that is not found elsewhere in the application and would help to paint a picture of how you would be a strong addition to their campus community.
As you consider what to write about, remember that the admissions counselors are reading thousands of essay. They will read hundreds about that life changing trip to Europe or the grandparent that made a difference. How will you stand out from the crowd?
Next Step is here to assist you through the process of essay writing, from choosing a topic, developing initial drafts, and critiquing through completion. Contact us to learn more about how we can help!