By David A. Tomar College Essay Prompts, Topics, Tips, and Examples The college essay is a required part of the application process for most selective colleges and universities.
The college application essay is your opportunity to distinguish yourself as something more than an anonymous collection of academic stats and achievements. But it helps to know what college admissions officers are looking for in a college essay. We also enlisted the help of a qualified expert in the field. Meredith Lombardi, Associate Director of Outreach and Education at the Common Application, offers a few tips on exactly what admissions officers are seeking from a great application essay.
If you fall into the excited category, consider this a complimentary resource. Consider this a good set of references as you hammer out your ideas, and work through your essay drafts. Sorry for yelling. You got this. Just follow our tips and write from the heart. Then — unless your heart has perfect grammar and diction — seek support from a trusted source. Every college weighs these factors differently. But those colleges which require an essay are giving you a unique opportunity to set yourself apart from all the other students who also have awesome grades, ran for student body president, and volunteered at a retirement home.
Take that opportunity and run with it. College Essay Prompts Many selective colleges and universities have their own essay prompts. Other colleges may simply offer you free writing space to provide a personal statement.
However, the Common Application is perhaps the best starting point for anticipating likely college essay prompts.
The Common Application, which is accepted by nearly colleges and universities, is a single-serving college application that allows you to create one admissions package for submission to multiple schools.
Meredith Lombardi explains that "For students applying to multiple institutions, the Common App streamlines the application process by eliminating the redundancy of filling out multiple applications.
Our application provides students with the necessary tools to showcase themselves and their talents while providing a unique picture of who they are as an individual. The Common Application also gives you the option of responding to one of 7 different essay prompts. Avoid overdoing it. Essays that are riddled with advanced vocabulary can seem pompous or even inadvertently comical to the reader. Write succinctly Can you say what you need to say in fewer words?
Can you substitute an advanced vocabulary word for a phrase? Writing concisely expresses to the admissions officers that can organize your thoughts and that you respect their time. Combine like ideas into more sophisticated sentence structures The vast majority of the sentences in your essay should be compound, complex, or a combination of both compound-complex sentences.
I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row.
I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru. Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries.
Colleges are simply looking for thoughtful, motivated students who will add something to the first-year class. Tips for a Stellar College Application Essay 1. Write about something that's important to you. It could be an experience, a person, a book—anything that has had an impact on your life. Don't just recount—reflect! Anyone can write about how they won the big game or the summer they spent in Rome.
I smiled as I thought about the joy these cookies would bring to my friends. They like to compare me to the witch in Hansel and Gretel, joking that I fatten children up and then forget to eat them.
There is something about the warmth of a kitchen filled with the buttery smell of pastry that evokes a feeling of utter relaxation. I find joy in sharing this warm and homey experience by showering the people around me with sweets.
For as long as I can remember, baking has been an integral part of my life. Thanks to busy parents and hungry siblings, I was encouraged to cook from a relatively young age. Time spent in the kitchen naturally piqued my interest in baking, and that glimmer of interest blossomed into a heart-warming hobby that rejuvenates my stressful days, improves upon even the happiest moments, and brings joy to the people around me.
To me, food is not simply about sustenance. The time that I spend in my kitchen, the effort and care that I pour into my confectionary creations, is a labor of love that brings me just as much satisfaction as it does my hungry friends and family.
What Works? Yet despite its relative lack of major information, it reveals a lot about who the author is. For instance, if church was a major part of your upbringing and is very meaningful to you, you could mention this aspect of your identity in a college application essay. Topics That Focus on Someone Else The college application essay is your chance to help admissions officers get to know you.
For this reason, you should avoid topics that put the focus on someone else. Spend most of the essay focusing on yourself and how your personality or choices have been shaped because of this person. Similarly, one topic you should never write about in your college essay is romantic relationships.
Don't just recount—reflect! You have a unique background, interests and personality.
Be honest and genuine, and your unique qualities will shine through. Do the ideas flow logically?
And while they may not be the most important part of your application, they can differentiate you from similarly qualified applicants. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma — anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale.
Creating a schedule, even if you need to modify it later, gets your brain in motion. To avoid writing your essay on a topic that might earn you a rejection letter, check out the five topics you should never write about in your college essay below.
Seek qualified second opinions You should absolutely ask others to take a look at your essay before you submit it. And then I moved to Berkeley for six months. Show them through strong examples. From this vantage point, Lombardi shared some awesome expert-level college essay tips. And while they may not be the most important part of your application, they can differentiate you from similarly qualified applicants.
When given this freedom, choose a topic that seems inherently interesting to you. Check out these college essay examples for inspiration! While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The time that I spend in my kitchen, the effort and care that I pour into my confectionary creations, is a labor of love that brings me just as much satisfaction as it does my hungry friends and family. Be warned that some college essays demand more creativity than others. Though it was not Gallagher's actual college application essay, he did submit it as a sample of his work to college writing programs and was accepted, with scholarship, to New York University , from which he graduated in
While practicing a concert D-flat scale, I messed up a fingering for a low B-flat, and my instrument produced a strange noise with two notes. Remember that the admissions officers are more interested in your perspective of what happened than the events themselves. They were the most popular people in school, in direct contrast to all that was socially acceptable in New Haven. Avoid crossing the line into TMI. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea.