How to pick an essay topic

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

You've filled out your application, including Activities & Honors. What's left to say in an essay?

You're more than just your GPA and what sport or instrument you play. College aren't just looking for star students; they want to build communities of thoughtful, openminded, collaborative students who will help each other succeed.

Avoid Resume Writing

An effective overall application uses each part of the application effectively. You don't need to write 650 words about winning a competition in your essay when you can do it in under 10 in the Activities & Honors section.

Focusing on your achievements feels like bragging and doesn't show your personality.

So what's the point of the essay?

3 Main Goals of an Essay

  1. Show you're an awesome person (leadership and teamwork skills)

  2. Show you're an awesome student

  3. Meaningful, long-term engagement with a subject or extracurricular

  4. Personal growth (requires a contrasting before & after)

  5. Stand out! (through your writing style, not through your topic)

Topic ideas!

You need to tell a story about yourself where you're the main character! Focus on stories where you interact with other people, make active choices, and (try to) do something!

If you're still stuck, here are some ideas:

  • an interesting choice you made

  • a problem you had to overcome or goal you achieved

  • a lesson you learned

  • a time you were part of a group

Make sure it matters (to you)!

As with any story, this isn't a science! The long as the topic is important to you, we will see your enthusiasm on the page! Don't worry too much about what kind of topic you're "supposed" to talk about.

Tell us YOUR topic

Do you have a unique topic? Share in the comments below!

Good luck with applications!

– Aaron