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What Essay Topics are Colleges Sick of Reading?

hayisforhorsehayisforhorse 108 replies17 threads Junior Member
Our lives are made up of many influential moments, but which ones are colleges sick of reading about? Struggles with chronic illnesses? The strange yet profound “Costco” or “Pizza Hut” style essays (evaluating how a visit impacted life)?

I am considering writing about how my Crohn’s Disease impacted my life, but if this kind of essay is overdone and colleges are sick of it, then I’ll need a new topic.
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Replies to: What Essay Topics are Colleges Sick of Reading?

  • privatebankerprivatebanker 5827 replies86 threads Senior Member
    ^ yup
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  • hayisforhorsehayisforhorse 108 replies17 threads Junior Member

    I like that idea! Develop it as something that helped me find my passion and something that changed me for the better, rather than the struggle itself.

    Also, kudos for knowing so much about Crohn’s! Many don’t know much about it, so it’s refreshing to hear that others understand the struggles that come with the disease.
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  • whoknowswhere25whoknowswhere25 20 replies12 threads Junior Member
    My high school said to avoid 2 things. The whole “experience after volunteering during the summer” scenario and writing about a role model. They said that when one writes about a role model, it shows they are dependent upon others.
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  • USCWolverineUSCWolverine 241 replies5 threads Junior Member
    @MomofMWboys, terrific insights there. Mahalo!
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  • Angelababy30Angelababy30 165 replies19 threads Junior Member
    You shouldn’t be worrying too much about whether the admission officer is tired on reading it (you will never know who will read your essay). As long as it is authentic and show your true personalities , you should be fine. Worrying about the admission officer is the least important thing you really need to focus on your essay.
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  • intparentintparent 36291 replies644 threads Senior Member
    That isn't really true. The point is to get them to want to admit you. Ignore that at your own peril.

    Regarding illness, if it has impacted your grades or ability to do EC, sometimes you can have your GC mention that you've had a health issue that impacted those things. Just in case that is one reason you were thinking of writing about it.
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  • bjkmombjkmom 7949 replies158 threads Senior Member
    ^^Right. The point behind this essay is "to give them a reason to say yes" to your application.

    There are some topics that should be avoided, simply because they don't show you in your best light, regardless of how authentic they are.

    There's a time for revealing your warts. Your college essay is not that time.
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  • porcupine98porcupine98 1594 replies27 threads Senior Member
    What everyone said. At one info session, they said "no grandparents [role model], no torn ACL [athletic injury]"

    Variations on a theme.
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  • SDCounty3MomSDCounty3Mom 207 replies1 threads Junior Member
    My D got some good advice recently, which is to be sure your essay talks about YOU. Of course you can/should have a story that includes others as important role players, but ultimately the essay is your chance to illustrate yourself. Here's an example of two contrasting essays I helped edit years ago. They're written by the same person. In one, he talked about a philosophy his friend has, ("Do what's hard"), and how that influenced and inspired him. He was not accepted to his dream school. He decided to take a year off, and the next year he tried again with an essay in which he focused on what he did during that year off, which was to work in voter registration and political campaigns. He was accepted to the dream school on the second try. Point being...the first one made you focus too much on the admirable qualities of his friend, rather than on him. The second was all about a story of taking action, due to his own initiative and interests, and it was much more effective.
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  • happy1happy1 23319 replies2307 threads Senior Member
    Write the essay you want to write that shares a story you want to tell. Don't try to be cute or original just for the sake of being different. If you write about your chron's then just be sure you avoid the "woe is me" type of essay and focus on how your illness has shaped you into the person you are today.
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  • MassmommMassmomm 4087 replies84 threads Senior Member
    I don't think any topic is really tired, unless you write about it in a cliched manner ("and then at the end of my missions trip to that impoverished land, I realized how wealthy I was"). For her Wellesley essay, my daughter wrote about her friendships and dating relationships and how the adult women in her life had mentored her through their challenges. Doesn't sound like much of a topic, but she treated it very well. Another kid at her high school wrote about his video gaming. WPI and Northeastern liked it.

    The key isn't to pick an interesting topic necessarily, or to have a gimmick, but to write about that topic in a compelling way. Sometimes, you really do have an unusual story to tell--a college classmate of mine wrote about being the child of a funeral director and growing up in a funeral home--but if you don't, just be real.
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  • AlmostThere2018AlmostThere2018 1472 replies58 threads Senior Member
    "Small" stories that can be fully explored and then tied back to who you are as a person seem to work well. My D wrote a great (IMHO) essay that started with what she experienced attending Quaker meetings at her summer camp and how hard it is to be quiet for an hour. She took the reader into that moment then pivoted out to what she learned (from meetings and being tech free for a summer),about herself and how she incorporated it into her life. Very personal.
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  • bopperbopper 14291 replies101 threadsForum Champion CWRU Forum Champion
    Read this...they say to write an essay only you could write. Many people could write an essay about how losing the basketball game taught them many things.
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  • lpapadakislpapadakis 21 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Hi, this might be a little late in this thread, but I wanted to give my two cents. I pursued the illness route after not pursuing it the first time around (I'm transferring) and it worked because these essays were more me. I want to go in to medicine and what I went through growing up is why, so I often used that as my platform, or as my background being my life-changing moment etc (you know those prompts). Here is an example of one of those use a quote to describe a moment in your life that meant a lot:

    “No, you’re going in vain,” she mentally addressed a company in a coach-and-four who were evidently going out of town for some merriment. “And the dog you’re taking with you won’t help you. You won’t get away from yourselves.”—Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

    There’s a look you get when people see your scars. Not the scars we term our bad moments, the emotional ones. No, these scars are physical, a tight line of soft, purplish bumps rising above your skin that looks stretched, as if one movement might tear that seam of flesh apart even though it’s been there for as long as you can remember. And if you didn’t know what to look for you might not notice the stares but you do know what to look for because you’ve seen it before. Not once. Not twice, but more times than you can count between your fingers and toes combined and you know that because that’s how you measured things when you were younger, when this all started, when you started to watch, and when you started to expect. It is an orchestra of looking: me looking at them, them looking at me, and avoiding, avoiding each other because don’t let her see the frown, the pinched brow, the wide eyes. Looking, watching, searching, frowning—they will do all of this until you become not just a girl with a scar, but a girl whose scars hold her together. This is the undeniable thought that you read from their faces when their sad, heavy eyes betray their stagnant smiles. No, I can’t read minds, but I can read people.

    By the time I was eight years old, I had eight visible scars. Today, I have nine. But sometimes what you see is not the full story. In fact, if nine is a quarter, the total is nearly forty; 9 visible, 31 not. Forty sutures. Forty operating rooms. Forty vital signs falling, falling, then crashing on the screens of monitors. Forty scars. Forty stories. And yes, scars are stories. These jigsaw lines crawl across my skin like a foreign language dances across the pages of a book, entirely unknown and therefore frightening, and still more, strikingly beautiful–I am a walking contradiction. My doctors called them “battle scars”, and looking down into the open face of my four-year-old self they would say “they make you tougher”. Too young to see the sadness that hid behind their masks, I smiled, grinning because I was special, grinning because I was strong. But now, standing there exposed, bare skin visible in the world beyond the locked doors of the pediatric ward, I forgot the way I had smiled, I forgot how amazing those lines are; what they show, what I faced, and what I overcame dissipates with just one look. Isn’t it funny how quickly that feeling can disappear beneath someone else’s gaze? And it is here where I exist suspended between the realms of beauty and terror, caught in a dichotomy of human nature where I don’t quite fit. So, what next?

    Next, you wear a bikini. At eighteen, I had avoided bikinis because of the obvious lack of clothing, a shortage of fabric which threatened to unveil what I so carefully hid. For years, I denied my past, hid beneath my smile, and pretended I was "normal". Until one day, I was tired. I was tired of hiding, tired of smiling, tired of searching endlessly to avoid the stares, the sad eyes, and rejecting my body. Yes, sometimes your body doesn’t obey your mind and sometimes it never will, but that day I realized it doesn’t even matter. You see, society may give you the cards, but only you can play them. So go ahead, put on your bikini, and make the one choice you have left: to finally choose you. And that day, I chose me.
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  • hayisforhorsehayisforhorse 108 replies17 threads Junior Member
    Wow that’s beautiful @lpapadakis i really appreciate your advice!!
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