How to Choose a Great College Essay Topic

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Make your admissions counselor fall in love

A college essay topic is what makes high school seniors toss and turn at night. How can you put yourself on a page? What will make the mythical admissions counselor like you enough to admit you? Stay tuned: the following tips will help you engineer an essay guaranteed to knock the socks off the reader so hard that they’ll end up embedded in an oak tree the next state over.

Tell It Like It Is

Sometimes, bad things happen and sometimes those things are your fault. Even though it might seem like something you want to hide when selecting your college essay topic, it might actually be a chance to display your incredible maturity, fortitude, or sense of perspective. Although you might think that C you got in Algebra is going to send your application straight to the trash, an essay about your love of math and dedication to becoming better might change that reject to an accept. Be careful to avoid trite topics, such as moving or the death of a grandparent, unless you can demonstrate your unique growth through that topic. Remember: you’re going for awesome points, not pity points.

Do It Passionately

‘Be you’ is a pretty strong direction to give. You only have a certain number of words to express yourself in a college essay and chances are pretty good that you only have a vague idea who this ‘you’ person even is. Instead of spending your time and energy trying to figure out how to put ‘you’ on a page, write about something you have passion for. Something you love, something you hate, or something you fear can all turn into a college essay topic that explodes off the page while showing the college in question that not only do you care, you care with the burning passion of a thousand, fiery suns.

Be a Little Out There

Your test scores, grades and extracurricular activities say things about you, as do any letters of recommendation you submit. An interview will speak for itself, if the college of your choice offers that option. But what about that little quirk that you’ve never talked about? Your secret love of Sartre or the hyena rescue that you hope to start one day? By thinking of things that are the least likely to be present in other parts of the application, you are guaranteed to not only show off as many sides of yourself as possible, but also to avoid putting the admissions officer to sleep.

Following these instructions will help you pick a college essay topic that will make your admissions officer’s toes wriggle in joy as he sips his fourth café mocha of the night perusing potential student applications. Just remember to come up with your topic by thinking passionately, being straightforward and representing that quirky side of that your friends and family know and love. So what’s stopping you? Go forth write about that hyena rescue! Your future alma mater awaits.

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