There are only so many ways to write a college application essay. If you want to be a better writer than the other students vying to get into your dream school, you need to come out looking unique with your essay topic. College admissions officers read thousands of essays each admissions season. It makes perfect sense that there is usually a basket of topics high school students write about more often than others. Sports is a popular topic among student-athletes, and this makes sense, given the amount of time dedicated to training, practicing, and competing. Another popular theme is mission-related trips, especially those to impoverished nations.
How to create a unique college essay
Sports and the experiences gained during a mission trip are great topics, but you have to keep in mind that there are thousands of others writing on these same topics. Put yourself in the shoes of the people reading these essays. After a while, they all may seem like a blur to them. Seeing the same topic repeatedly will not help you stand out unless framed uniquely.
You can focus on a compelling story within the topic if you decide to write on a popular topic. Let’s look at an example to illustrate this. Let’s say you are writing about playing football. Instead of focusing on the sport itself, you put the lens on the fact that you had a weird or funny nickname. The background context of that nickname story is the sport, while the story that engages the reader is how you received that nickname.
Essay Topics to Avoid vs. Unique Essay Topics
As long as you come from a unique angle and keep the topic in the background, choosing a common theme will be no issue. You can now stand out with even the most common college essay topics. Our partners at Prompt have identified several traits and values that colleges and universities look for students to exemplify to write a good college essay. Students then work on incorporating those traits and values within the college application personal statement and any supplemental essays. These traits and values include academic and personal drive, diversity of experience, leadership, compassion, and helping others.
Many students choose to seek professional guidance through the essay process. While an essay coach won’t write the essay for you, they will help you pick a topic and offer expert guidance and feedback as you craft your own personalized essay. Here at HelloCollege, our Essay Team works with our students through one-on-one essay idea brainstorms that focus on topic selection and plan for their first draft. Students receive professional reviews to finesse and improve their essays.
Just remember, a good college essay coach should listen and support you throughout the entire process. They should never write an essay for you. Colleges want to know your authentic story. Be proud of who you are and what makes you special.