Which topic should I choose?


I’m hoping to write a personal statement that will help me stand out AND show many parts of who I am.

Would you mind letting me know which of these mini-outlines seems like it might be the most likely to help me stand out?

1)when I went a STEM high school in my city then realizing that I am much more interested in other subjects therefore changing my high school and in the meantime the things I had to came face to face.

2)Learning languages because of the fanfics I read and then translate some fanfics to spread them.

3)Books that changed me when I am in depresion.

And if none of these ideas seem promising, would you please let me know if you think I should go back and brainstorm new ideas? Thank you!

In general I recommend starting off by writing an outline/draft for each idea and see how it goes. However, I’d avoid the third option as depression can be a red flag at some colleges.


If I had to choose, definitely this one, imo. I guess #1 could work, but my first reaction was, you didn’t like some classes so you were able to change schools to accommodate your interests - major privilege. Which may not at all be the case and there are probably ways you could make this an interesting and insightful essay, but that was my immediate reaction. As for #3, sure that could work, but you need to be careful with revealing mental illness, imo. That’s not to say you never should, but it’s a tricky topic. So my vote is #2.


I would brainstorm more ideas = but not because these couldn’t work. But because there are more ideas to be had - for common and more.

I personally like #3 - but I would not say in depression. Just books that impacted me - and why.

But all three could be good - but so could that tacos are your favorite food or you’re fascinated by how ants comgregate in endless supply or what your favorite word is or how the yellow on a tennis ball fascinates you or why you prefer slip ons vs. shoe laces.

There are no limits.

Best of luck.

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Of the choices, I find #2 most interesting and unique. Don’t do #3.


Well #3 is a common supplemental question. But of course could be used for common app - but again, without the depression.

Here’s what a third party site says about it:

What is a book you love?

Your answer should not be a book report. Don’t just summarize the plot; detail why you enjoyed this particular text and what it meant to you. What does your favorite book reveal about you? How do you identify with it, and how has it become personal to you?

Again, be honest in answering this question—don’t choose a classic from your literature class or a piece of philosophy just because you think it will make you seem smarter. Writing fluently and passionately about a book close to you is always better than writing shakily or generally about a book that doesn’t inspire you.

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Work on #2 and see how it goes.

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Your essays are supposed to be something that rings true to you…and in your voice. It’s not supposed to be what anyone else thinks is best…it’s about what you can write that will let the adcoms hear your voice.

So…here is my suggestion. It’s based on what my kids did. They each had a number of started essays. But the ones they completed were the ones that spilled off the pen and onto the paper…because that was the essay that was “then”.

So…I would suggest you start writing essay one. Remember, this isn’t an essay about how good or bad the first school and courses were. It has to be about you.

Then start essay two. Do the same. Make sure again…it’s about YOU.

Ditto essay three (remembering…this isn’t a book report…it’s about YOU).

Get started on these and then let them sit for a couple of days…and revisit and add to them.

Get the ideas down. See if one essay is one that sings to you easily. And if so…that is the one you complete.

Do not mention any mental health issue in a college application, if it is at all possible to avoid it.

Telling the story of the evolution of your academic interests, and how it necessitated the effort of changing schools might be a good topic, as long as it doesn’t come off as, “I really thought that I would like STEM, but it turns out that talking Barbie was right, math class IS tough, and so I downgraded to a lesser school.”

The intersection of your interest in foreign languages, fanfiction, and translation does sound kind of interesting.

Don’t be surprised if you wind up with several drafts of several different topics before you settle on a good one. The prompt that led to my kid’s essay that got them into a tippy-top was, “What do you love? What do you love doing? What brings you joy, makes you happy?” That led kid to write down three things that they loved doing, that they then wove together into an essay. It worked, since they were talking about things that really meant something to them.

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Potentially, all 3 topics could make your application “stand out”, but the real issue is which topic will make your app stand out in a positive way.

A dislike of stem courses and/or a focus on depression are not likely to generate positive impressions. However, judgment should be reserved until a draft is constructed and reviewed.

At this stage, it might be best to write an essay on whichever of the three topics is most important to you and most likely to help readers understand you in a more in depth fashion. After writing an initial draft, ask an adult to read & critique your writing.

When composing a writing, try to understand what message you want to deliver as well as what message your writing does deliver.