There are many ways to write an essay, but only a few ways to write an engaging 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 stand out with your essay topic.
College Essay Topics to Avoid
College admissions officers read thousands of essays each admissions season. As a result, they typically see reemerging themes and topics. For example, sports is a popular essay topic among student-athletes, which 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.
Sports and the experiences gained during a mission trip are great topics, however, there are many 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.
Focus on a Compelling Story, Not Just the Essay Topic
You can focus on a compelling story within the college essay 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.
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 traits and values that colleges and universities look for students to exemplify. 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 (NOT a good idea), they WILL help you home in on 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 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 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 because that is what will get you accepted.