When a selection committee gathers to read an applicant’s college essay, they will know all about his or her academic career, but very little about the actual applicant. The essay is an opportunity for a selection committee to get to hear an applicant’s voice. Therefore, the essay must make not only a good impression, but also a lasting one that sets the applicant apart from all of the other qualified candidates.

Choosing a Topic

For some applicants, the application itself dictates the essay topic. The essay will not require research, but it will require logical thinking, creativity, and precision writing. The college knows what they are looking for in the essay. It is the applicant’s task to measure up to the institution’s rubric.

At other institutions, the topic is up to the applicant. These institutions are specifically looking at how creative the applicant can be. Of course, here, too, the writing requires logical thinking and precision. The best way to choose a topic is for the applicant to choose from his or her own interests. If writing an informative essay , the topic should be one that is familiar enough to the selection committee that they can follow the discussion without needing supplemental materials to understand the main points. If writing a persuasive piece, find an issue that lends itself to arguing for the issue or against it, and support it with easily verifiable information.

Avoid Controversial Topics

Certain topics are too controversial to discuss in a college essay. It is best to avoid them in favor of topics that are more likely to generate serious interest the applicant, rather than offend the selection committee. Three topics to avoid are:

  • abortion
  • same-sex-marriage
  • religion

Reflective Essays

Reflective essays can be a good choice because they allow the selection committee to see how the applicant changed over time during a personal experience. By writing about what he or she learned about life during the course of the experience, the committee can get a sense of the applicant’s personality, maturity, and thought processes. If the experience involved a challenge of some sort, then problem-solving skills and perseverance are also measurable.

In short, the easiest way of finding good essay topic for college applications is by having the applicant consider what someone should know about him or her and writing from the heart.


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