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What's an original essay topic nowadays?

wildflowerwaltzwildflowerwaltz 98 replies29 postsRegistered User Junior Member
edited July 2010 in College Essays
I've compiled a list of possible essay topics that I thought were fine, but after reading through all these guides to essay-writing they seem rather trite. SO what even counts as an original, outstanding essay now?
edited July 2010
70 replies
Post edited by wildflowerwaltz on
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Replies to: What's an original essay topic nowadays?

  • Avalanche LilyAvalanche Lily 86 replies3 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    I will try to tone down the cheese here, but the originality doesn't really come from the topic it comes from you and your voice. That said, I'd avoid any last minute win sports stories or missionary trips, just in case.
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  • tophopefultophopeful 128 replies11 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    I will tone up the cheesiness. :)

    "There was one minute left, and we were about to lose the soccer game; it felt like we would not continue our 10 consecutive year win on the cup... but something miraculous happened. I was running up center field with the ball, I passed it to a teammate on the left, he ran up to the goal... but NOOOOO, there was an opponent blocking him. He passed the ball to me, and I kicked it towards the net at 1,000,000 mph. It went in and we won."

    Yeah, don't write that for your college essay, or any essay.

    But seriously, you can't just make up or think up a novel essay topic. You need to draw from your past experiences and _write originally_. Also, it's good to start early, so if you don't like it you can scrap it and write something else.
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  • ADadADad 3985 replies936 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    SO what even counts as an original, outstanding essay now?

    Don't strain to be original.

    Rather, aim to be personal, detailed, and revealing. Try to make the essay so you that only you could have written it. If you do that, you won't have to worry--it will be original.

    In other words: It's not the topic, it's what you do with the topic. Choose whichever topic allows you to write your most personal, detailed, and revealing essay.

    There is good advice here:

    Essays, Admission Information, Undergraduate Admission, U.Va.
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  • slik nikslik nik 1071 replies12 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    No one could have said it better than ADad... he gave excellent advice!
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  • blablaboi1blablaboi1 266 replies19 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    One advice I got when writing college apps was whether the essay apply to you only?
    Could someone else have erased your name on your essay and put their name and still complete the application? If not, it's the essay you should write. Your essay should be something about you only, not others.
    Hopefully, that helps.
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  • aabbcc1789aabbcc1789 882 replies49 posts- Member
    yes others have hit the nail on the head. write using your voice.
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  • SagertSagert 500 replies66 postsRegistered User Member
    Does originality approach zero as t->infinity?

    I mean, there will always be some new originality here and there, but won't such dwindle as the years pass by?
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  • SaintSaensSaintSaens 1205 replies44 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Here's some of the messages I'm getting in regards to unoriginal topics, although it's based on testimony from a small amount of admissions officers.

    Sports: the desire to win, how teamwork prevails, and practice makes perfect have all been done before.

    Essays about being in a bus or airport terminal in another country and realizing that we're not really that different is also a common topic.

    In regards to writing about going on trips to help people in developing countries, writing about how you were nervous at first, but then liked the people you were helping in the end is unoriginal. It would be pretty surprising if your wrote that you didn't like them in the end.
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  • thefoolthefool 237 replies3 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Essays about a death in the family are also pretty hard to do in an interesting way. See here for a more in depth analysis: [url=http://blog.****/?p=20]**** Blog. Topics to Avoid, Part 1.[/url]

    Honestly, a good way to pick a topic is to imagine the following scenario: You're on stage in front of 100 people that you don't know, and you have to entertain them for 5-10 minutes by telling one story. What would you talk about?

    If that scenario is too hard to imagine, think about what you would say to someone who you were meeting for the very first time and wanted to entertain.

    Writing about something you are passionate about. Write about exploring and figuring things out for yourself. Write about someone you look up to and their misadventures.

    You've lived for 17-18 years on this earth, have you ever done anything that was unique to you?
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  • jjtheairplanejjtheairplane 181 replies12 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    wow everything is almost taken...
    hmm can the essay be about a realistic experience that i diverge into a philoshipical question and support my view witth that experience?
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  • glassesarechicglassesarechic 5471 replies16 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    For some, it can be hard to discuss something abstract (teamwork prevails! french literature!) without falling into cliches or being overly vague. Your best bet is to write vividly about a specific anecdote or to make something mundane into a metaphor--basically, if you write about something highly specific, it will be more vivid, and reveal more personal qualities than an essay about the importance of leadership that isn't grounded in visceral details.
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  • estrat1estrat1 345 replies20 postsRegistered User Member
    I had the same problem last year. Then I gave up and wrote about vegetables. It got messy: towards the end, I was complaining about/shouting at my cat.

    But it seemed original at the time. And I'm pretty sure it was 1/3rd the reason I got in where I did.
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  • AlumotherAlumother 6109 replies130 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    The topic can be anything. Your approach is what matters. As an example, a couple of years ago my son wrote about the idea of a "clutch player" in basketball and the statistics that had been put together showing how real value of a player was quite different. I guess the authors had written saying Carmelo Anthony wasn't worth much, and some obscure player was. My son wrote about how that had to be wrong. About how having the courage to take that last shot had to be something.

    He was accepted to Penn, Brown, Princeton, and Stanford. We have a relationship with Princeton and Stanford, so let's assume those applications had a tip. Maybe. Neither Penn nor Brown knew him from Adam. His SATs were 2300. Grades maybe a 3.7 in honors from a good private high school. Activities were soccer, not to play in college, and improv theater. Interesting, but not earth-shattering. I continue to believe that his essay was an influential factor.

    It worked in his case because a) he came up with it completely himself b) he LOVED to watch basketball i.e. it was a "passion":) c) No parent or other adult edited it at all d) he's a good writer. So, if you write well, pick something you care about, that you know something about that other's may not, and that reveals something about you. Indirect revelation is fine. Write your heart out.
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  • limabeanslimabeans 4649 replies105 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    ^There was an article in the NYTimes about this topic. How baseball player was chosen from the draft, or was it football? It may not even have been in the NYT, but same topic.

    Point is: it's not the topic. It's not really the essay that gets you in either. It's scores, stats, interview (maybe), connections, area of the country you're from, your ethnicity, demonstrated interest, it's the recommendations, it's your transcript, your GC, your HS, etc. In other words, it's a combination of it all. The essay, meh. It could hurt you, but not necessarily "make the difference" as a positive. After all, some applicants pay others to come up with the topic, some pay to get it edited, some even pay to get it written.
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  • th3lolzth3lolz 44 replies2 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Is it ok to write an essay from a point of view of an inanimate object? (assuming the essay is still about the applicant) if so I have a great idea :D
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  • Jersey13Jersey13 4589 replies33 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    ^ That's funny considering a thread addressing the very same idea just popped up recently.

    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-essays/954562-creative-but-maybe-too.html
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  • th3lolzth3lolz 44 replies2 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    lol i guess it's not as original as i thought but at least it is not similar to that one in any way except for the point of view
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  • bandgeek24601bandgeek24601 192 replies23 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    I know death of a family member is tough to do in an original way. I wrote an essay talking about the death of a teacher I was close to, tried to do it in an original way (we had a shared favorite color, so I approached it from talking about the color that we both liked). I've shown the essay to a few of my teachers and peers, and the feedback has generally been positive, but I'm still not sure if I should use it for my Common App essay or just go with another topic.

    Thanks for the feedback. :)
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  • ricegalricegal 1340 replies10 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I agree with the poster who said "start early". My son wrote several essays that didn't sound the way he originally thought they would when he picked the topic. He scrapped them and started over. Ultimately, I thought his essay revealed exactly who he was and showed how he was able to grow more mature from an experience he had.
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  • SummaAlumSummaAlum 62 replies9 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    I'm considering writing about why I like Batman so much (I read the comics and don't intend on mentioning the film). "Why you like Spiderman" was mentioned as a possible essay topic the Princeton Review guide to the essays, so I was wondering if discussing what draws me to Batman is/isn't considered cliche.
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