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Types of Essays

❶Marie Schofer has worked in admission and enrollment management for 10 years and currently serves as director of admission at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa.

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2018-19 Common App Essays

So, I tossed my essay away without even getting to disintegrate it with a phaser set on stun. You know, just in case. The meat of the essay is that the two versions of himself that the author thought about portraying each fails in some way to describe the real him. Look at how long and draggy these paragraphs are, especially after that zippy opening. Is it at all interesting to read about how someone else found the process of writing hard?

Not really, because this is a very common experience. Twice in the essay, the author lets someone else tell him what to do. Don't be a passive panda. Be an active antelope. But there is no description of what the author did with either one, nor any explanation of why these were so meaningful to his life.

In the rewrite, it would be good to explore what he learned about himself and the world by pursuing these interests. How did they change him or seen him into the person he is today?

In the next essay draft, I would suggest subtly making a point about his other qualities. Or, after the TREE paragraph, the author could explain why this second essay was no better at capturing him than the first. Why is the self in the essay shouting — is it because this version paints him as an overly aggressive activist?

Star Trek fans are a dime a dozen. But a Trekkie who is also a graffiti aficionado? Now that's a novel intersection of cultural tastes. PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service. We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We've overseen thousands of students get into their top choice schools , from state colleges to the Ivy League. We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit.

We want to get you admitted to your dream schools. Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in. I realized that the one thing that this world needed more than anything was compassion; compassion for those less fortunate than us. I expected harsh conditions, but what I encountered was far worse.

The conditions of it hit me by surprise; it looked much worse in real life than compared to the what our group leader had told us. Poverty to me and everyone else I knew was a foreign concept that people hear about on the news or see in documentaries. But this abject poverty was their life, their reality. As all of this realization came at once, I felt overwhelmed by the weight of what was to come. Would I be able to live in the same conditions as these people?

Is there anything I can do to make you feel better? It was at that moment that I saw how selfish I had been. How many people suffered like this in the world, while I went about life concerned about nothing at all? Thinking back on the trip, maybe I made a difference, maybe not. But I gained something much more important. I gained the desire to make the world a better place for others. It was in a small, poverty-stricken village in Peru that I finally realized that there was more to life than just being alive.

This is an essay that tries to explain a shift in perspective. There are different ways to structure this overarching idea, but a chronological approach that starts with an earlier opinion, describes a mind changing event, and ends with the transformed point of view is an easy and clear way to lay this potentially complex subject out.

Arranging your narrative in order of what happened when is a simple and surefire strategy. Lite via Wikimedia Commons. It just makes this author sound dismissive of a huge swath of the population.

Calling others "less fortunate" when you're a senior in high school has a dehumanizing quality to it. These people who have so little were able to forget their own needs, and put those much more fortunate in front of themselves. Again, this comes across as very patronizing.

It may help to imagine you have the compound eyes of an insect. How many different perspectives can you see and describe? Why were the kids were crying? One specific really loud kid? Why were their clothes dirty? Did they have Sunday clothes? Traditional clothes they would put on for special occasions?

Did they make their own clothes? The rewrite should either make this section more specific and less reliant on cliches, or should discard it altogether. What did their leader tell them? What was different in real life? What was the light like? What time of day was it? Reading vague generalizations is like trying to make sense of this blurry picture. And after a while, who cares? Without a framing device explaining that this initial panic was an overreaction, this section just makes the author sound whiny, entitled, melodramatic, and immature.

Just how much mortality is typically associated with these very standard college-application-boosting service trips? In a rewrite, I would suggest including more perspective on the author's outsized and overprivileged response here. This would fit well with a new focus on the different points of view on this village the author encountered.

Is it really believable that this is what the author learned? This conclusion is rather vague, and seems mostly a non sequitur. It's important to include deep thoughts and insights into your essay - just make sure your narrative supports your conclusions!

Want to read some excellent college essays now that you've seen some examples of flawed one? Need some guidance on other parts of the application process? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score.

Download it for free now:. Anna scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, and went on to major in English at Princeton and to get her doctorate in English Literature at Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education.

You should definitely follow us on social media. You'll get updates on our latest articles right on your feed. Follow us on all 3 of our social networks:. How to Get a Perfect , by a Perfect Scorer. Score on SAT Math. Score on SAT Reading. Score on SAT Writing. What ACT target score should you be aiming for? Anna Wulick May 18, 9: College Essay Topics To Avoid Want to know why you're often advised to write about something mundane and everyday for your college essay? Writing in too much detail about your illness, disability, any other bodily functions.

Detailed meaningful discussion of what this physical condition has meant to you and your life is a great thing to write about. But stay away from body horror and graphic descriptions that are simply there for gratuitous shock value. Waxing poetic about your love for your significant other.

Confessing to odd and unusual desires of the sexual or illegal variety. Your obsession with cultivating cacti is wonderful topic, while your obsession with researching explosives is a terrible one. Writing about committing crime as something fun or exciting. Even if you're in a state where some recreational drugs are legal, you're a high school student. Your only exposure to mind-altering substances should be caffeine. You're unlikely to be a good enough fantasist to pull this off, and there's no reason to roll the dice on being discovered to be a liar.

Unless you have a great story of coping with one of these, leave deal-breakers like pathological narcissism out of your personal statement. Colleges are looking for curious students, who are thoughtful about the world around them.

Make sure you explain how you pursue your interest, as well. Test Your College Knowledge! You can even write your own question! Whatever topic you land on, the essentials of a standout college essay still stand: Show the admissions committee who you are beyond grades and test scores and 2.

Dig into your topic by asking yourself how and why. Individual schools sometimes require supplemental essays. Here are a few popular application essay topics and some tips for how to approach them:. Avoid the urge to pen an ode to a beloved figure like Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln. The admissions committee doesn't need to be convinced they are influential people. Choose someone who has actually caused you to change your behavior or your worldview, and write about how this person influenced you.

Be honest and specific when you respond to this question. Use the college's website and literature to do your research about programs, professors, and other opportunities that appeal to you. Your answer should not be a book report. Don't just summarize the plot; detail why you enjoyed this particular text and what it meant to you.

What does your favorite book reveal about you? How do you identify with it, and how has it become personal to you? Again, be honest in answering this question—don't choose a classic from your literature class or a piece of philosophy just because you think it will make you seem smarter.

Writing fluently and passionately about a book close to you is always better than writing shakily or generally about a book that doesn't inspire you. Take this opportunity to really examine an experience that taught you something you didn't previously know about yourself, got you out of your comfort zone, or forced you to grow.

Sometimes it's better to write about something that was hard for you because you learned something than it is to write about something that was easy for you because you think it sounds admirable. As with all essay questions, the most important thing is to tell a great story: Get one-on-one help from former Ivy League and top tier admission officers.

Our College Admission Counselors will help you find, apply, and get accepted to your dream school. Connect with our featured colleges to find schools that both match your interests and are looking for students like you. We know that great scores take work. That's why we design our courses to be efficient, targeted and strategic so you make the most of every minute you spend prepping.

Our experts know how to design lessons based on how you're learning. We love our teachers, and so will you. Teach or Tutor for Us. The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University. Privacy Terms of Use Site Map. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it.

If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

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College Admissions Essay Topics to Avoid What’s most curious about the college essay is that many of the topics on this list (those that should be avoided) also happen to be some of the most commonly used topics out there.

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Not sure what makes bad college essays fail? This guide explains the common pitfalls students face and which college essay topics to avoid.

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On a whole, we are aware of the impact that disasters have on the lives of our applicants," she says, but "the full scope of the college essay shouldn't recount those types of experiences." 5. A mission trip helped you to understand the struggles of impoverished youth in the U.S. Beyond the Common Application essay, many colleges also have supplements that ask additional, university-specific questions which applicants must respond to with shorter-form essays. While topics vary from supplement to supplement, there are a few standard essay formats that many colleges use: Personal Statement. This is the most common .

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[Recommended: 7 Tips for Writing a Standout College Application Essay] 1. A service project shows your passion for helping others. “Many students choose to write about their participation in a community service project or a church mission trip,” says Marie Schofer, director of admission at Cornell College. From Common App prompts to supplementary essays, we break down the most common application essay topics. Boost your college essay to the top of the pile!