The essay portion of a college application is often the one most dreaded by students. Not only does the essay involve submitting a solid piece of writing, the content has to be compelling enough to impress admissions officers. That’s usually easier said than done, especially in light of the fact that admissions officers read thousands of college essays each year.
Aside from the basics like avoiding all typos and grammatical errors, the subject of the college essay is a very important factor that could make or break the strength of one’s overall application. Many times it is the essay that provides the boost needed to get accepted.
Unfortunately, students tend to choose topics that are not very suitable for this type of writing. Even the topics that appear to be perfect could, in fact, backfire. Interviews with college admissions officers have proven this. So what is an applicant to do?
Below are a handful of essay topics that, on the surface, seem like the perfect ones to choose but have been identified by admissions officers as being the ones they would rather avoid reading.
The Good Samaritan Essay
There is nothing wrong with being super involved in the community, feeding the homeless, participating in church events and other goodwill organizations but, according to admissions officers, in college essay form they tend to be very bland and boring. Simply listing examples of how you’re such a great humanitarian doesn’t make for a strong essay.
Still Want to Choose This Subject? Instead of giving a broad overview, focus the essay on explaining why these acts are so important to you. What events or experiences led you to want to help others? That is a story worth telling.
The Controversial Issues Essay
Being passionate about an issue that affects society is all well and good but the college essay isn’t the appropriate outlet for you to vent your frustrations or share your opinions on controversial subjects like abortion, healthcare, politics, religion or gay rights. Not only are these topics challenging to write about in a short essay, the tone won’t be a good fit for an academic essay.
Still Want to Choose This Subject? Nearly all admissions officers strongly advise not picking controversial subjects to write about. If you still choose to do so, be prepared to possibly have it count against your application overall.
The Most Academically Accomplished Essay
There are countless students who are academic titans with pages of extracurricular activities to brag about. The college application has a special section devoted to listing academic achievements. Choosing to write about it in a college essay will only be repetitive. Admissions officers want to know that there is more substance to a student and that they aren’t relying solely on their accomplishments to speak for them.
Still Want to Choose This Subject? Try singling out a specific achievement or accomplishment and tell the story behind it. Was there a challenge you overcame? What did you learn about yourself as a result of achieving that goal or accomplishment? Did your experience positively influence others?