We have a guide for that!
We spend our lives looking for the one. The perfect prom dress. The best burrito. The coolest sneakers. Your soulmate. Your soulcat. The most flattering Snapchat filter. Your dream college. The list goes on. In so many areas of life, we try to find the perfect fit, but at this moment perhaps none is quite as important as your college essay topic. It is your one opportunity to speak to admissions officers in your own voice, so you had better pick a topic that jives with the person you are, the person you hope to be, and the college you want to attend. Just like prom dresses and cats, there is probably more than one excellent topic out there for you, but eventually you’ll have to narrow it down. If think you’ve found your perfect topic, put it to the test by looking for these three signs.
Your college application contains a LOT of basic information about you, from your GPA to your list of extracurricular activities. By the time an admissions officer gets to your essay, they already have a basic feel for who you are, so you don’t need to start from square one, and you certainly shouldn’t simply repeat your resume. In an ideal world, your topic would appear nowhere else on your application – your gnarly feet, for example, or the amazing things you learned about your grandma when you helped her clean out the attic. If you do choose to write about something already listed on your application – for example your stint as captain on the squash team – make sure it reveals new information about who you are as a person by sharing a very specific story or moment. You want to make every piece of your essay count, and the greater breadth of character you can reveal, the better.
Okay, so you might not get butterflies in your stomach when you think about your college essay topic. You may, honestly, not even be especially jazzed to start writing. But the moment your feelings toward the essay writing process shift, you’re probably on the right track. Maybe you go from feeling nervous to excited. Maybe you progress from thinking there’s no way you can write this thing to believing you actually can get it done. No matter what, picking a good topic makes the writing process easier because it’s something that matters to you and that you have a lot to say about.
Most of you are 17 years old. You have attended school. Maybe you’ve done community service. Maybe you’ve held a job at the local supermarket. Chances are your experiences overlap with the experiences of your peers, and many of you may end up writing about the same general topic, but your specific experiences are unique to your life. As long as you are writing about a moment that is so specific or an idea that is so unique to your perspective that no one else could put their name on your essay, you’re on the right track.