Writing an admission essay is not as frightening as it may sound but you still have to invest enough time and effort to make it good. A common app essay and subsequent supplements can actually harm your application if you don’t do them properly. More than 2 million teenagers enroll in US colleges each year, which means that writing a unique admission paper can be troublesome. This part of your application reveals a lot about your personality and attitudes, as well as your ambitions, background, talents and level of knowledge. It is extremely important for you to choose the right theme in order to create high quality text. This is your chance to step out of the crowd and distinguish yourself among hundreds or even thousands of other applicants.
Before you start writing your university paper, you should know some general rules. There are many good practices, but also some bad ones. We’ll explain these in the form of dos and don’ts for choosing the right admission essay topic.
- Research each school before applying
Make sure to research the universities you are going to apply to. This way you’ll be able to combine all of your suitable strengths and describe them in the best possible way, and uniquely, for each university. It’s all about successful customization since each university adheres to a specific culture and requirements.
Before deciding on the best topic, have a brainstorm session and come up with several points that you would consider worthwhile. Create a list of questions to each of these points and see if it can be transformed and expanded into a good story. You can always ask more experienced friends or relatives to help you during brainstorming.
- Share your unique story
Admission committees appreciate warm personal stories that come from real life experiences. Think about past events and find the topic that is really unique and interesting. It doesn’t have to be extraordinary – all it takes is to create the story that truly mirrors your inner self. Keep in mind to avoid clichés such as What my parents taught me or What would I do if I were the President. Such topics may be too general to be successful.
- Focus on a moment
Small but specific moments can truly make an impact on you. Try to analyze one of these moments and explain how it affected you. Don’t waste too much time describing the moment itself. Instead, reveal how you felt back at the time and what sort of change this moment brought to you within. An interesting topic could be an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of others or yourself.
- Show transformation
When you write about situations where you challenged a belief or experienced ups and downs, you should show the way this transformed you. These are important life lessons. Therefore, you should not only describe them but show exactly what it meant to you.
Debra Jones, an essay expert at Best Essays, recently stated: “College is where you change from a child to a grown-up man or woman. It’s the place where you develop your personality. However, this transformation begins a lot earlier so try to show it in the admission paper – how you learned something new about yourself and how it changed the way you perceive the world around you.”
- Abstain from controversial themes
Stay away from the topics that can make you look strange or problematic. Subjects like the politics, religion, illegal behaviors, or tragedies (divorce, death, illnesses, etc.) may not be attractive to admission committees.
- Choose a topic that will allow you to portray your true self
Honesty is one of the basic principles of good writing. If you choose a topic that doesn’t truly reveal who you are, you will not write a good essay. Believe in your virtues and write about things that really make you special. Avoid embellishment and exaggeration.
- Don’t repeat information
If you complete application forms and state certain information about yourself, don’t repeat it in the admission essay. Choose a topic that will allow you to express attitudes and reveal new information.
- Don't choose an overused topic
There are many topics everyone is simply tired of reading. Try to avoid papers like The agony of sports defeats or The most important person in my life.
- Don’t choose a topic that is too general
University professors will appreciate and reward your extensive knowledge. However, this doesn’t mean that you should stick to broad or abstract topics in your paper. Admissions essays are about you and your attitudes, not about global or national issues. It may not be a good idea to write about overpopulation or pollution – you’ll have plenty of opportunities to analyze these types of subjects while at university.
- Don’t be too ‘amazing’
When you apply at a university, you want to present only perfect moments in everything: your grades, extracurricular activities, etc. Although you are a very cool person, this doesn’t mean that you are perfect. Nobody’s perfect and the admission committee knows this. Try not to appear as the most amazing person. Know where to draw the line.
- Don’t sound too negative
Talking about your roadblocks and failures can be tricky if you don’t treat it carefully. You should prove that you are eager to learn and work hard and cope with problems, so avoid being too negative. And if you talk about specific problems and difficulties, explain how they make you determined to find the most appropriate solutions.
- Don’t choose a weak title
If the title of your essay makes you feel indifferent, imagine how boring it would sound to the members of an admission staff. Don’t choose a weak title - you will chase readers away even before they start reading. Announce your topics (have several versions) to your family members, for instance, and measure their impression.
All of these dos and don’ts should give you enough material to narrow down your search and choose the best admission essay topic. We would love to hear some of your ideas in comments, so don’t hesitate to add them below!
Rachel Bartee is a blogger and a freelance writer from Iowa who is constantly looking for ways to improve her skills and expertise. She feels passionate about travelling and inspired by her morning yoga. Reach her on Facebook and Twitter.