College essays need to inspire the admissions teams and get them excited about the idea of you joining their community. The college essay is your opportunity to show why you’d be a good fit.
The college essay is the portion of your college application that best showcases who you are. College admissions officers are looking for the most authentic you; a good topic can showcase that.
The prompts for the essay change year-to-year, so the topics can be hard to prepare for. However, here is some advice for writing your college essay where you can display your authentic voice and some topic examples to help you apply this advice.
Below are some college essay topics that stand out. Using these prompts can help you start writing a college essay for a stellar application!
Where did you find your passion? Your inspiration for applying to a school or program is one of the main aspects of your application that admissions officers want to hear you express. Writing about these moments can make a great essay.
Writing about a radical change in your worldview can display authentic growth that showcases your thoughtfulness and ability to grow as a person. These two qualities can make a worthwhile addition to any college campus.
Nobody will know your journey and the impact events in your life have had on you better than your parents. Writing about yourself from their perspective can give a great birds-eye-view of who you are as a person and why you’re applying for this particular program/school.
Diving deep into a failure (whether personal, academic, professional, etc.) is one of the best ways to grow as a person. Writing about a failure, why you failed and how that failure changed you is a perfect topic because it displays growth, perseverance, and maturity.
Extracurricular activities are an important part of college applications. Writing about your profound relationship with one or multiple extracurricular activities can give new depth to your application. It can also make you stand out against others with comparable extracurriculars.
Also, take time to discuss your summer activities. Ivy leagues look for summer activities, so make sure to highlight them! If you attended a summer program for high school students, colleges want to hear about it too.
Writing about what you wish to achieve at college as your essay topic can help you put together a distinctive college admissions essay. If your goals align with the goals of the program/school (which they likely do, considering you’re applying there), then it can show admissions teams that you’ll fit well at the school.
A mentorship transforms you through guidance and support. Delve into the impact of a mentor who shaped your journey and influenced your choice to apply to this college/program. Maybe you attended an internship for high school students, where you learned a lot.
By sharing how their insights moulded your goals, you highlight openness to learning and thriving under guidance. This narrative reflects unique qualities like collaboration and growth valued by colleges.
A single cultural misunderstanding sparks a journey of self-discovery. Recount an experience where a misunderstanding prompted questioning assumptions, leading to personal growth and a broader perspective.
Show willingness to learn from challenges and embrace diversity. Through your narrative, show how empathy and understanding pave the way for connections and personal development.
Success that takes you by surprise can change how you see yourself. Tell a story about a time you achieved something unexpectedly and how it made you rethink your abilities.
Explain how this success proved your adaptability and determination, showing how resilient you are and how you're open to new opportunities. This experience lines up with the ever-changing college life.
Quotes are powerful sources of inspiration and belief-shaping. Dive into a quote that really resonates with you, and talk about how it's impacted your way of seeing things and your dreams.
Dig into the details and effects to show how it reflects your introspective and critical thinking abilities. This highlights your curiosity and how your values align with the college/program.
Getting involved in community service can be transformative. Talk about how you took part in a significant initiative that changed how you see social issues.
Reflect on how you contributed to positive change, which aligns with the college/program's values. Show your dedication to creating social impact and how you can contribute to the campus community.
Facing challenges can bring growth. Think of a tough time you overcame and how it made you stronger. Share the lessons, resilience, and positive changes you got from it. This shows you can handle tough situations and develop personally, qualities colleges like.
Cross-cultural friendships broaden your perspective. Talk about how these friendships expanded your view of the world and influenced your educational goals.
Show your openness to learning from diverse viewpoints and your commitment to global understanding. Highlight how you aim to enrich the campus environment through your experiences.
Transforming passion into action shows your drive and commitment. Explain how your passion motivated you to take real steps within your school or community. Describe the tangible results to emphasize your readiness for leadership and positive impact. This aligns perfectly with the college/program's focus on proactive engagement.
Personal symbols carry deep meaning. When you explore their significance, you reveal how they reflect your values and aspirations. Describe how personal symbols shape your identity and provide insights into your character and ability to reflect. This highlights your potential to make a meaningful contribution to the college/program community.
It might also be helpful to search online for some existing topics from the specific school/program you’re applying to.
This way, you can understand what each specific school is looking for in the essay portion of the application. Whether you’re writing a supplemental essay, an optional essay, or a primary essay - it’s important to know what’s expected of you. It’s also important if you’re answering prompts from The Common Application -
Unique college essay topics can be difficult to come by. It's essential to pinpoint the key influences that led you to this point to write a stand-out college essay.
Start by asking yourself 'Why?' Why are you passionate about this? Why does it relate to the program you're applying to? These questions help form your 'why' statement. Honing in on your ‘why’ and finding your purpose will make for a compelling essay.
Once you have your 'why,' delve into 'What?' Share past experiences and future goals that align with your 'why.' Think about challenges you've conquered, what interests you about the program, and what you aim to achieve. Connect these through a story that showcases your passion's evolution, challenges, and your program's role.
Authentic college application narratives start with genuine essay topics. Your topic should reflect your experiences and values, showcasing your authenticity and making your essay compelling to admissions officers.
Remember, there's no magic formula for an inspiring essay. A strong topic reveals your journey, how it transformed you, the problem you're addressing, and why it drives you. It might take time, as your passion is still evolving. What matters is not just the topic but where you stand on your journey. It’s also key to learn how to end your college essay.
Reviewing examples of amazing essays is an excellent way to spark your creative thinking. By seeing how others have crafted their essays, you can gain inspiration and insights into effective storytelling, helping you generate your own unique and compelling ideas.
Finding the perfect topic is a worthwhile journey of self-reflection. Below are some common FAQs to help you write about the best topic for you!
Think about significant moments in your life and how they’ve led you to this moment. If you can express why these moments are of significance to you and how they’ve changed you as a person, you’ve got a good topic.
Some essay topics to avoid include but are not limited to highly personal stories, stories with controversial subject matter, stories boasting about accomplishments and accolades, humorous topics, and stories exemplifying your luck or privilege.
It might be possible to tweak a college essay you’ve already written if another school’s essay prompt is similar. However, you shouldn’t anchor yourself to an essay topic you’ve previously written about.
If there’s a prompt another college has offered you to write about and you feel that you can write a better essay with this prompt, then don’t be afraid to start from scratch!
If different topics compel you and are compatible with the prompt, it can be hard to figure out which one might be better to write about. It’s important to remember that your essay displays you as a person. You should give preference for whichever essay topic you believe best displays your qualifications for the college/program.
The essay portion of your college application gives admissions officers a deeper understanding of who you are and why you chose to apply to this school and program.
Make sure your essay topic is up to par in authenticity, as it can make a lasting impression on admissions teams. It’s also key to make sure it follows the college requirements.
In 2019, over half of admissions counselors ranked the essay portion of a college application to be of moderate to considerable importance. This means that your essay is as essential an aspect of your application as any other, and has the potential to make or break your application.