Get started The Best and Worst Topics for a College Application Essay The college essay is your opportunity to let your personality shine on your application. Consider this approach instead. Kat Cohen Author Students prepare for applying to selective colleges by taking rigorous courses , participating in extracurricular activities , studying for standardized tests , and more.
All of this preparation, however, can distract attention from one of the most notorious sections of the college application: the essays. The essay is both the most and the least visible part of the competitive admissions process. The point of evaluating all these factors is to enable colleges to holistically build a well-rounded class of specialists. The essay or essays is a great way to learn more about an applicant, her motivations, life experiences, and how she can contribute to the campus community.
Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. I realized that I had spent so much energy going against the grain that I had no idea what my true interests were.
It was time to find out. I joined the basketball team, performed in the school musical, and enrolled in chorus, all of which were firsts for me. I did whatever I thought would make me happy. And it paid off. I was no longer socially awkward.
In fact, because I was involved in so many unrelated activities, I was socially flexible. I had finally become my own person. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma — anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale.
Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. Even though the prompt allows you to explore more academic and intellectual topics, it is important not to get carried away with esoteric details. Bottom line, the topic you choose for this prompt should, like every topic, highlight your personality, identity, and how you think about the world. Be sure to describe the event or experience that caused you to realize the gravity of the problem, the specific actions you took to plan or execute your solution i.
For example, if you care deeply about drug education because of a past experience with a friend or family member, you could outline a plan to bring young-adult speakers to your school to positively influence your peers and stress the real dangers of drugs.
As an alternative, this prompt gives you the opportunity to address a more ambitious, hypothetical problem you would like to solve. For example, you could address the logistical and legal problems of high-speed rail in the United States, the complex environmental and economic problems of using fossil fuels, or even the ethical dilemma of creating A. Be careful to frame your hypothetical problem clearly, explain why it is a problem, outline the important points, and explain your steps to create a solution.
Prompt 5 Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. This prompt is expansive in that you can choose any accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked personal growth or new understanding. One option is to discuss a formal accomplishment or event whether it is a religious ritual or social rite of passage that reflects personal growth.
If you go this route, make sure to discuss why the ritual was meaningful and how specific aspects of said ritual contributed to your personal growth. An example of this could be the meaning of becoming an Eagle Scout to you, the accomplishment of being elected to Senior Leadership, or completing a Confirmation. Alternatively, a more relaxed way to address this prompt is using an informal event or realization, which would allow you to show more personality and creativity.
An example of this could be learning how to bake with your mother, thus sparking a newfound connection with her, allowing you to learn about her past. Having a long discussion about life or philosophy with your father could also suffice, thus sparking more thoughts about your identity. You could write about a realization that caused you to join a new organization or quit an activity you did not think you would enjoy, as doing so would force you to grow out of your comfort zone to try new things.
The key to answering this prompt is clearly defining what it is that sparked your growth, and then describing in detail the nature of this growth and how it related to your perception of yourself and others. Your growth can also be left open-ended if you are still learning from your experiences today.
This essay describes the new tasks she undertook, as well as how the writer now more greatly cherishes her time with her mother.
My mother had been a source of strength for me, and now I would be strong for her through her long recovery ahead. What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? Share an essay on any topic of your choice.
It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. Admissions officers want to feel connected to you and an honest, personal statement about who you are draws them in. Your love of superheroes, baking chops, or family history are all fair game if you can tie it back to who you are or what you believe in.
Prompt 2: Learning from obstacles. You're trying to show colleges your best self, so it might seem counterintuitive to willingly acknowledge a time you struggled. But overcoming challenges demonstrates courage, grit, and perseverance!
The obstacle you write about can be large or small, but you must show the admissions committee how your perspective changed as a result. Prompt 3: Challenging a belief. Your answer to this question could focus on a time you stood up to others or an experience when your own preconceived view was challenged. Choose this prompt if you have a relevant—and specific! I loved these amazing robots that could transform into planes and cars the first time I saw them in the toy store.
The boys had all the samples, refusing to let me play with one. When I protested loudly to my mother, she gently chided me that Transformers were ugly and unfeminine. She was wrong. I joined the robotics team in a desperate attempt to find a community, though I doubted I would fit into the male-dominated field.
Once I used physics to determine gear ratio, held a drill for the first time, and jumped into the pit to fix a robot, I was hooked. I went back to China that summer to bring robotics to my friends. I asked them to join me in the technology room at my old school and showed them how to use power tools to create robot parts.
I pitched my idea to the school principal and department heads. By the time I left China, my old school had a team. Throughout the next year, I guided my Chinese team-only one of three that existed in the country-with the help of social media.
I returned to China a year later to lead my team through their first Chinese-hosted international competition. Immediately upon arrival to the competition, I gave the Chinese head official important documents for urgent distribution. I knew all the Chinese teams would need careful instructions on the rules and procedures. I was surprised when the competition descended into confusion and chaos.
I decided to create another source of knowledge for my fledgling robotics teams. It took me several weeks to create a sharing platform that students could access through the firewall. On it, I shared my experience and posted practical practice challenges. I received hundreds of shares and had dozens of discussion questions posted.
When a head official reached out to my Canadian mentors, warning them to stop my involvement with the Chinese teams, I was concerned. When a Chinese official publicly chastised me on a major robotics forum, I was heartbroken. They made it clear that my gender, my youth, and my information sharing approach was not what they wanted. I considered quitting. But so many students reached out to me requesting help. I wanted to end unnecessary exclusion. I worked to enhance access to my platform.
It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma — anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. I was embarrassed to tell people that my hobby was collecting cosmetics and that I wanted to become a cosmetic chemist. I convinced Amazon to sponsor my site, giving it access to worldwide high-speed servers.
This essay describes the new tasks she undertook, as well as how the writer now more greatly cherishes her time with her mother. Retaining the essay prompts provides the added benefit of consistency for students, counselors, parents, and members during the admissions process.
I rode the subway from Cambridge University to the British Museum. In the case of surfing, the salty water, weightlessness of bobbing over the waves, and fresh air could cater to senses. The point of evaluating all these factors is to enable colleges to holistically build a well-rounded class of specialists.
I rode the subway from Cambridge University to the British Museum. New responsibilities came along as I spent that summer clearing my documentation, enrolling in school, and getting electricity and water set up in our new home. What was the outcome? Prompt 6: What captivates you? Focus on what action or experience caused you to recognize the need for change and follow with your actions and resulting outcome. During snack time, we could choose between apple juice and grape juice.
And she vicariously lived through my experiences as I sent her pictures and told her about my adventures.
Americans confused me as I relied on Urban Dictionary to understand my peers, the Pledge of Allegiance seemed nationalistic, and the only thing familiar about Fahrenheit was the German after whom it was named. Writing fluently and passionately about a book close to you is always better than writing shakily or generally about a book that doesn't inspire you. Names have also been changed to protect the identity of the author and subjects. In addition, you can highlight intersections between multiple backgrounds and show how each is integral to you.
In doing so, we're able to provide our content and services at zero cost to student users. Despite the language barrier I found I had the self-confidence to approach anyone for directions.
At school I saw opportunities to affect real change and launched a series of green chemistry campaigns: the green agenda engaged the school community in something positive and was a magnet for creative student ideas, such as a recent project to donate handmade organic pet shampoo to local dog shelters. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. Noodle's mission is to make the search for education better through increased transparency and efficiency. My father has gradually transformed from a frigid man to the loving father I always yearned for. This meant transferring the family.
My mother had been a source of strength for me, and now I would be strong for her through her long recovery ahead. Examining these mementos led me to a surprising realization: yes, I had been a superficial girl obsessed with clear and flawless skin. As a non-Catholic in a Catholic school, I knew I had to be cautious in expressing my opinion on the abortion debate.