Here’s the thing about the college essay: They’re not just hard to write. They can also be hard to read.
Once you accept this truth, you’re going to be about 17 steps ahead of all of your peers. Because knowing this does for you is it makes you think about who the person is reading this essay. Who are they? What have they been reading all day? What even is the point of a college essay?
You’ve probably be told already that this essay is your chance to let the school you’re applying to see you. But just the word “essay” conjures all kinds of feelings of formality and stiffness.
Write your essay as though you’re talking to a friend or a teacher you like or even in your journal (if you keep one). Not sure what to write about? Here are some topics to get you thinking more creatively.
1. That time you got detention/grounded/a bad grade
It’s common for applications to ask you about a failure or a challenge. This is a variation on that prompt. Give a detailed account of what you got in trouble for—the more embarrassing the better. Be honest about how being in trouble made you feel: Defiant? Contrite? What did this experience teach you about being wrong and about accountability? Remember: details, details, details!
2. Who’s one famous person—living or dead—you think more people should know about?
A musician? An old film noir actress? A scientist? Who do you have pictures of on your walls? Who have you spent hours reading about on Wikipedia? (Bonus points if you’ve edited the Wiki page.) Discuss, with passion, what you love about this figure. Give details about the moment you discovered them, how it made you feel, and how you feel about this person now.
3. Be the valedictorian.
There can only be one valedictorian, and maybe you’re not it. That’s OK! If you had been, what would your speech have been like? What would you say to your classmates if you had the floor for a few minutes? What were the significant moments of your life so far, and what do you hope to see your peers accomplish in the next four years?
4. Write about your name.
How does your name suit you? What are its origins and its meaning? Would you have picked this name for yourself? If not, what would you pick instead? Try going letter by letter, analyzing the sound of the letter and the shape. How long is your name, do you have nicknames?
When was a time you remember laughing so hard you couldn’t breathe? What was the joke or situation? Who were you with? Tell the joke (and try to make it funny again) and why you think the joke worked so well, and if you think the joke would work now. What do you think it says about you that you think this joke is funny?
Hate all these ideas? Write about why you hate writing prompts. It’s all up to you how you want to show your personality to an admissions person. Don’t believe me? Ask them yourself! Talk to an Admissions Counselor or register for Saint Rose Scoops, a day that’s dedicated to getting all your college application questions, answered.