8 essay topics to avoid

people riding horses on the beachAfter reading thousands of essays, admissions officers know which ones they won’t want to read by the first paragraph. The last thing you want to do is choose a topic they’re not interested in. So before you start your essay, be sure to double check that you’re not going to include these things:

Family vacation. You may have had a wonderful time on your family vacation in Maui, but admissions officers are just not interested in hearing about it. You may be passionate about the topic, but trust us on this one. If you truly had a life changing experience while you were on vacation, talk about that specific event, but the vacation itself shouldn’t be the focus of your essay. And definitely don’t start your essay by saying, “I was on vacation with my family in Maui when…”

Pets. Fluffy might be very cute but the essay isn’t about your pet, it’s about you.

Your boyfriend or girlfriend. If you’re thinking about talking about your boyfriend or girlfriend as an inspirational person, I’d suggest choosing someone else. Or refer to them as a “friend” instead of a significant other. That way the focus is on the story rather than how much you’re in love with them.

Video games or anime. You may have spent hours playing video games or you might have gone to an anime convention every year, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good topic for your college essay.

Excessive self praise. While it’s important to be confident and proud of your accomplishments, don’t take it too far or you’ll sound like a spoiled snob. This often happens when you’re afraid to show failure or doubt. Admissions officers are people too, and they know you’re not perfect. They’re more interested in how you learn from mistakes than hearing that you don’t make any mistakes at all.

Regurgitating your resume. There’s a time and place to tell admissions officers about all your activities, and your essay isn’t one of them. Choose only one significant experience to talk about, and it doesn’t even have to relate to any of your extracurricular activities.

Once upon a time… You only hear this phrase in children’s books, so why would you use it in a college essay? It’s important to have a catchy first line, but this one’s already taken.

I was born on December 2nd, 199… This is another first line you should avoid. Just like you shouldn’t retell your resume, you shouldn’t retell your life story.
Now that you know what not to do, let’s brainstorm some things you should include.


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