Cliche Sports Essay?

My child and the essay coach brainstormed essay topics and came up with an accomplishment in the weight room, and the approach to that accomplishment, as the focus of the essay. I thought it sounded like a cliche muscle head sports idea - a topic everyone warns you about. The essay coach believes it doesn’t fall into that category because my child does pretty well academically (35 ACT, 4.0 GPA, challenging courses, AP’s, etc.)

Any opinions on this?


The Terms of Service prohibit any AOs here from claiming to be such, unless they’ve officially been identified as college reps.

You could try using the essay review service offered by CC. It’s hard for posters to answer your question directly without reading the essay.


It is more about how the essay is written than the topic. I always recommend starting with an outline or rough draft and seeing where/how things go.

IMO a good essay should: 1) say something about the applicant that isn’t elsewhere on the application and 2) give admission officers a reason (positive trait, accomplishment, etc.) that they would want to have the applicant on campus.


Agreed with @happy1…it’s easy on paper to say it’s cliche but if it’s adding something to the app not already there, it could be fine - his approach to things may be that.

And I’m not sure what this means - but if my coach said this, I’d get another coach.

The essay coach believes it doesn’t fall into that category because my child does pretty well academically (35 ACT, 4.0 GPA, challenging courses, AP’s, etc.)

So if your student had a 3.2 and 26, it would fall into that category?


I don’t see the relevance of GPA, scores and classes to the issue of essay quality.

As for the essay itself, it depends on how it is written, as others have said. In general, a sport topic can do no harm but it is often a topic for young people. Weight room might be interesting if the story is good.


Be sure the essay is what your son wants to write about (not something an essay coach pushed).


Google “Hacking the College Essay” and read the top result.

It basically tells you to "Write the Essay that only you could write"

In other words, if it is so generic that someone else could have written it you are not done with your essay. So how to make it personal to you?

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I think a really good essay could be written about how incredibly boring weight lifting is, or how exciting, or how time consuming. It’s not really about weight lifting and how successful or unsuccessful he was at it but about how he felt while doing it or how he used it to memorize poetry or math formulas.

The cliche essays are often about winning the big game or about losing it. Any subject can be good or bad

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On a related note, should an applicant steer away from a sports-related essay if they are a recruited athlete (passed pre-read, verbally committed, etc.)?

Let’s stick with the question asked rather than derail the conversation. While the question is valid, it deserves its own thread

Sports are really important to a lot of students and essays about sports aren’t always a cliche. If it shows who they are, it’s fine. OTOH, be wary of the typical “I pushed myself to the limit, sweat pouring off my brow, and scored for the team just as timer buzzed…” AO’s have probably read something like that too many times, so maybe consider a different approach.

There are very few original ideas with essays. The Aos have read hundreds to thousands of these and yes, lots of them can sound the same. The trick here is how to make it your own, personal and maybe a twist. Without second guessing, it should be well written. There are many different ways you can go with this. Like each additional weight you put on can represent something about you.

I know someone that wrote about chess. She’s graduated MIT recently. It’s what you do with the subject matter not really the subject.

My kid wrote a unique sports essay about a very unique experience. It was very well received.

  1. It was an essay no one else could write
  2. It was his voice and his voice alone
  3. It talked about how his experience shaped his outlook on education
  4. It made him stand out as “the kid who…”

He happened to use the essay as his prefect speech at school and people were still talking about it the next week when we were on campus. Truthfully, when he told me what he was writing about (falls into two “don’t” categories: sports and something that isn’t recent) I tried to talk him out of it, but the way he pulled it together really worked.


One of mine wrote about being literal like Sheldon Cooper …highlighted something I wouldn’t have. Was it good or bad? No clue.

The other wrote about her love of tea and how it can bring all people together.

Truth is like you said they read zillions. And it’s subjective so who really knows of it was deemed good, ok or not so good. And one might say fantastic and another not so good.

Even when they write something on your admit letter about it - I call that marketing. Come to us. Don’t forget most kids say no to more schools than they say yes to.

Lets please stay on topic and answer the OP’s question about their child’s sports essay…

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Does it offer insight into what motivates your kid or suggest a facet of his personality that is both interesting and might potentially contribute to a broader community. Upon reading it would someone think I want to know more or that is someone that is “interesting”.

This is hardly a comprehensive list but hopefully you get where I am going. To paraphrase from Maya Angelou they might not remember the words but will the essay be compelling enough that they remember how it made them feel.

I promise it won’t be perfect (these are kids) but the subject matter alone won’t make it cliche if the real point of the essay is the personal narrative it highlights.

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Like has been said, the essay may be fine if it shows insight into who OP is.

….regardless of the gpa they have