Choosing College Admissions Essay Topics & Writing Tips

by Jeannie Borin, M.Ed. from College Connections, LLC

While I’m sure, as a parent, you may want to be more involved with your high schooler’s college admissions essay writing, the best thing you can do is provide advice, proofread, and encourage your kid through the process. Below are effective tips to pass on to your student while they are working on conceptualizing and writing their college admissions essays. This advice can help you and your kid work through the process together.

A note to high school students, during their college admissions essay process

Choosing your college admissions essay topic can be more difficult than writing the actual essay.  After all, you have lots of ideas and how do you select what is right? Once you have decided on your topics, your writing should come easily. College applications will have prompts for you to follow. However, you need to make sure you select topics that reveal character traits and specific stories about your life that no one else can tell. Daily occurrences sometimes make the best essay topics. You have already had many experiences and you just need to choose one or two meaningful ones. Be sure to discuss its impact on you, how you were or are inspired and how you can apply what you have learned.


Here are some tips that will help your high schooler choose their essay topics:

1. Brainstorm ideas without restrictions. Take 15 minutes at a time and just let your ideas flow. Write words or phrases that come to mind. Ideas can include a specific experience, a person of influence, and an obstacle you overcame and so on.

2. Don’t use clichés. You may sound like other applicants and it’s important to distinguish yourself from the pack.

3. Don’t look for sympathy. You may choose to write about a specific challenge you have faced.  That is okay; however, come from a position of strength and focus on your positive character traits.

4. Tell the truth.  This may seem obvious but many want to elaborate on an experience and compromise honesty. Make sure you write about something that is believable and don’t be extreme.College admissions officers want to gain as much insight about applicants as possible. Reveal personality traits and be sincere.

5. Take a positive approach. You want to leave a great impression on admission readers. So, make sure your essay resonates what’s good about you!


More tips on writing a unique admissions essay:

  • Take time. You need to be thorough and think about what you want to say. Write a few drafts and ponder your thoughts.  College essays should be self-reflective and require some deep thought.
  • Exercise your creativity. To stand out from the thousands of essays admission officers read, you want to take a different approach. Perhaps you want to write in a flashback sequence or include a meaningful quote that says something about you.
  • Don’t repeat topics. If information is evident elsewhere on the application, don’t put it in your essay too. Your essays are an opportunity to show admission officers another side of yourself.
  • Use specific examples. Write a compelling essay with personal items from your life. Remember that admission officers are trying to learn more about you.
  • Remain authentic. Write about what sincerely interests you. Don’t write to impress or what you think admission officers want to read. They will know whether or not you are writing about the real you.
  • Edit and proofread. Review your college admissions essay several times and share with someone else. You may get great suggestions!


About the Author

Jeannie Borin M.Ed. is President and Founder of College Connections. She stays on the forefront of current and innovative trends in college admissions and education. This is evident by her vast social land national media presence, membership in the most credible college admissions organizations, public speaking, and attendance at professional conferences. Jeannie also visits colleges throughout the U.S. building contacts within the admissions staff. She has an extensive educational background and received her Masters Degree in Education and Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology/Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Jeannie has been awarded professional membership with the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), the most credible educational consulting organization in the United States. She is also a professional member of the National and Western Association of College Admissions Counselors as well as the Higher Educational Consultants Association.
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About College Connections

College Connections assists students in finding the right match for higher education while helping to simplify the complexities of the college admission process. Students receive the individual attention and experienced guidance they deserve to have a gratifying college admissions experience. College Connections has a successful track record of students gaining acceptance into one of their choice colleges. The name “College Connections” is indicative of the multitude of services provided covering all facets of the college admissions process and simultaneously “connecting” each student to the right college.

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