The college essay! What should you write about? More importantly, what should you not write about?
Did you just break up with someone you were dating? Colleges don’t want to know about it. Are you a waiter who spit in a rude customer’s food? First, that’s gross. Second, there’s no need to tell colleges about that either. Is George Washington the greatest president in your opinion? Please don’t choose this topic.
Take a look at the examples above. Why are these potentially bad topics?
It’s possible to write a good, or even great, essay on virtually any topic; it’s just that most college applicants do not yet have the skills to do so. So, picking a good topic is key.
When reading your essay, admissions officers want to know what you like, what you don’t like, what you’ve done or what you hope to accomplish. They will want to know how you’ll contribute to their campus community for the next four years, what activities you’ll participate in, if you’ll become a leader and what you want to study.
Finally, keep in mind that you want to come across as likable in your essays. Does this happen if you complain about your boyfriend, defend why you spit in a customer’s food or bore on about your admiration for Washington?
But would you like someone who taught English to immigrants? Would you like someone who worked hard for a year to complete a 5K race? Would you like someone who stood up for a friend at school who was being bullied?
We would. That’s what you should think about when writing your essays – let admissions officers know who you are and what makes you likable. Because if you don’t tell them, they might not ever know.
Stephen is the co-founder and COO of AcceptU. He received a BA from Cornell University, an MA from Columbia University Teachers College, and a Ph.D. from Rice University. Prior to founding AcceptU, Stephen was an Assistant Dean of admissions at Cornell for four years and an Associate Dean of graduate admissions at Princeton University for six years. Stephen is an IECA Associate Member.