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Finding a Essay Topic

Blog

Finding a Essay Topic

David Shin

Writing the college essay is arguably the most difficult part of the college application. While you can't do anything about your grades, scores and extracurricular activities, you CAN do something about the application essays. Maybe a little too much. The range of possibilities can be crippling:

The average college essay until the last 24 hours before deadlines.

The average college essay until the last 24 hours before deadlines.

But you don't have to procrastinate or write about stoplights like Spongebob! Finding a good essay topic is essential to the college application, but it doesn't have to be hard. It can be about anything from the mundane to the exciting and everything in between. Okay, maybe not everything, but here are some tips to help you brainstorm. 

  • Focus on a characteristic you want to emphasize about yourself. i.e creativity, leadership, curiosity. If you read through your essay and don't get the thorough impression that you're coming across as [insert desired adjective] , then try again!
  • Everyday topics work better than you think. A common saying among authors is that the writing makes the topic, not the other way around. Things like folding laundry and washing the dishes can be interesting if you write about them well. Don't limit yourself to "exciting" topics! 
  • Don't list out your resume. That's what the activities section of the application is for. No one needs to read that twice.
  • That being said, don't feel like you have to impress. Unless you've won national awards or invented the cure for cancer, there will always be someone more impressive than you. Instead, focus on what makes you unique — because no one can take that away from you.
  • No matter who you are, college is a trying time for one's development. Whatever your topic is, showcase a determination that can't be manufactured. Or more simply, prove that those grades aren't just letters on a page.

In the end, a couple hundred words will never capture who you are, so don't feel pressured to convey everything you are in that tiny box. You can't! Take these tips to heart, and you're sure to find a topic that conveys who you are, albeit imperfectly. Good luck!