Writing college essays for your college application should be taken seriously. It’s tough to say what is more important in an application essay — style or content — so it is best to assume that they are equally important and try to be as extraordinary as possible in both areas. When it comes to content, here are some topics you should definitely try to avoid.
THE LIST OF ALL MY ACHIEVEMENTS
It is tempting to talk yourself up extensively in your essay, and it’s not always a horrible idea, but to turn your essay into a laundry list of successes and achievements is one of the worst things you can do. There is a place on your application to tell the college admissions board about these things. If you’re having trouble finding that place, here’s a hint: it’s not in the essay.
THE META ESSAY
This is the essay about how you are sitting down, writing an essay, and someone, somewhere else, is reading it. Fascinating, no? No. This kind of philosophical banter may seem sharper than the head of a pin while you’re writing it, but it’s been done. Not only will this essay make you seem uninteresting and unoriginal, it will give the distinct impression that you put off writing this essay until the night before. (By the way, if you did that — don’t mention it. You don’t get added points for candid honesty.)
MY ROLE MODEL
This essay about your role model is a good idea gone horribly wrong. Writing about a role model can be great because it showcases your ideals, your character, and the person you want to be. However, this is the person you aspire to be. When the essay ceases to be about you, you’ve lost the reader. Who is applying to college — you or your role model? Don’t let yourself get lost.
Think about it for a moment. This essay is a chance to put your best foot forward, to plan out a brilliant introduction for yourself without the pressure of a face to face meeting, and you’re starting to write about what? Your fear of public speaking? This essay is far too common, first of all. And even if you were the first person ever to write about your insecurities, what about this will make you seem attractive to those reviewing your essay?
It may be difficult to come to terms with this fact, but your grades are probably not as impressive as you think they are, and the story behind them is not as interesting as you think it is. Whether you’re going for a master’s degree in social work in an online program or a BA in speech pathology, the story of your grades should not be the subject of your essay. The admissions board already has your transcript, don’t they? They know all about your grades. Don’t bore them by being redundant.
SUCCEED IN CHOOSING AN ESSAY TOPIC
Write about something that has meaning to you, that has changed your life, or that has made you look at the world in a new way. Share who you are and what matters to you. The essay is a way to show the college admissions office who you are beyond the facts and numbers that describe your life. Be authentic and your essay will be great!
Hannah Butler works as an English teacher and writes a section on Write My Paper 4 Me. She is also creating a blog that will teach her working methods to others.