I haven't blogged as recently as I'd like because it's college application season, and I've been busy helping students with their essays. One of the best parts of the process for me each year is seeing all the unique and interesting topics that students come up with to write about. Last year a few stood out to me: One was about a basketball player whose mom forced him to do yoga with her as a punishment, but he ended up loving it and becoming a regular practitioner. Another was about a girl who was constantly teased growing up because of her red hair, but she ended up gaining a lot from what she endured. A third was about a boy who was a "sneaker head," buying and selling high-end sneakers as a hobby-turned-business. And another successful essay was about a girl who traveled to Ireland to compete in an international competition as an Irish dancer, getting closer to her Irish roots in the process. This year, I've seen a wide range of interesting topics already, and I'm sure it will be hard to pick the standouts once the season is over.
I'm often asked what makes a great topic, and there are many ways to answer the question. The main thing to keep in mind is that it's more about how you write the essay than what it's about. Admissions officers are looking at your thought process and your writing style much more than they are concerned with the topic itself. But some topics are better than others. Many, many students write about a trip that changed their life and perspective. Many others write about a sports triumph or defeat. Because these topics are so commonplace, there's a chance you could bore the admissions committee and fail to stand out if you write something similar. That being said, a well-written, deeply thoughtful essay about one of these topics is still going to be a winner. Another thing I tell my clients is to try to stay positive and keep it about you. Many students' parents go through a divorce, which is a monumental thing in a child's life and is tempting to write about. However, I caution students that the story is often more about the parents than the student and isn't necessarily the best way to highlight something unique and compelling about the applicant.
Remember, the essay is an opportunity to tell the admissions committee something interesting about you that they aren't necessarily going to see in the rest of your application. This is your chance to shine the spotlight on some aspect of you that you are proud of, something that is different from other students. So choose your topic wisely and with confidence.
Need help figuring out what to write about? Please get in touch. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 646-526-0515.