4 Clichéd College Essay Topics To Avoid

By Hannah Richman

It’s that time of year: deadlines for college applications will be here before you know it. As if you don’t have enough to worry about, now you have to craft the perfect essay. This essay is going to be your chance to show your potential university who you are outside of your standardized test scores and your GPA. College admissions counselors read so many essays that it’s crucial you pick a topic to make yours stand out, so avoid these cliché ideas!

1. Controversial Opinion Pieces

In college, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to express your political and religious opinions. While it’s great to be informed, your college application essay is not the place to share your views.

Andrea Nadler, a college admissions counselor from Hofstra University, says that “there may be colleges who frown on it because you never know who is reading it, and this can be a subjective process.” If your essay is about why Obamacare is the downfall of this country and your admissions counselor is a strict Democrat, you may have just spoiled your chances. The same idea applies to if you write about your Catholic beliefs, and your reader is Jewish.

If the topic is personal to you, you can write about it as long as you can do it without demonstrating extreme bias. For example, if the implementation of Obamacare changed your life in some way, you could write about it – as long as you could do so without attacking the opposing side. You want to appear passionate and strong, but not offensive.

What to Write Instead:

Instead of writing about a controversial topic that could spark anger in your reader, gear that passion towards something else. Any social issue could be an acceptable topic: drinking and driving, bullying, etc. Write about whatever you’re passionate about without potentially causing offense.

2. Listing All of Your Accomplishments

Yes, your college essay is obviously supposed to be about you; however, that doesn’t mean it should be a self-loving piece about all the accomplishments you’ve made.

“Listing accomplishments is what the resume/activity sheet should do,” Nadler says. “The essay should focus on one aspect or facet of their life—something not otherwise known from the other pieces of the application.”

The admissions officers have your resume already; they know what you’ve done. Use this opportunity to show your future university who you are beyond the qualifications written on paper.

What to Write Instead:

So you were the cheerleading captain, first chair in your school’s band and on student council? Pick the accomplishment you have achieved that means the most to you. What skills did you gain from it? What lessons did you learn? Taking a situation and explaining what you got out of it will show your university what you can offer to them.



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