What Not to Write Your College Essay About

The Admittedly Team
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Your main objective in your college essay is to stand out from your peers and showcase why you’re awesome and different from everyone else applying to your dream school.

When you’re writing your essay, picture the reader comparing you to someone with the same GPA and SAT or ACT scores, and know that your essay is your main opportunity to show them why you’re different, and why they should accept you (not her).

When you’re thinking about things not to write about, always try to avoid cliches and experiences that are super commonplace. Below are the top 10 topics you should not be writing about.

  1. Failing your road test: The majority of high school students take their road tests between 15 and 17. Many students fail. It’s not that big of a deal, and shouldn’t be how you’re defining yourself.

  2. Your grandparents dying: I know this is super sad and you might be really close with your grandparents, but a lot of people unfortunately experience the death of a grandparent during high school, so this is not going to be a “wow” essay for the reader since they’ll likely have read it already.

  3. Your parents’ divorce: Another sad topic, but now more than 50% of marriages end in divorce so applicants are more likely to have divorced parents than not. It’s a completely tragic experience, but you will only be adding another hurdle to jump over in order to differentiate yourself.

  4. Your trip to an amazing foreign country: These trips are obviously a lot of fun, but spending a short amount of time in a place like Costa Rica, even if you’re volunteering, is not exactly the struggle that admissions officers are looking for. They’d rather read about something you’ve done over a prolonged period of time.

  5. Not making Varsity: It’s definitely tough making Varsity and it can be really devastating when you don’t make the team, but a ton of students don’t make the Varsity teams at their schools and this experience isn’t gritty enough to warrant an entire essay about it.

  6. Racy Topics: You don’t want to talk about things that could be deemed inappropriate to a reader like your drug use, your sex life, or the time you were in jail. Don’t let there be any possibility of making the reader uncomfortable.

  7. List of all of your accomplishments: Your college essay is your chance to let the admissions officer dive deep and get a clear picture of who you are. You’ve already listed your resume on the other portion of your application; use your essay to tell a story through personal anecdotes.

  8. Your experience as a twin: You might be unique in your grade at your high school, but there are tons of twins who apply to each college and most twins write about their experience as a twin. Don’t be THAT twin.

  9. Your strong political or religious beliefs: It’s great to be politically or religiously minded, but you do want to keep in mind that your reader might not share your beliefs and you don’t want a difference of opinion to cloud their view of your amazingness.

  10. Your parent or grandparent as your role model: You know who most students cite as their role models? Their parents (or grandparents). You know how hard it is to make your essay stand out when you’re talking about how amazing your family member is? Super hard. Don’t allow yourself to jump through that hoop. Remember, you want your essay to showcase your uniqueness. Make sure that you don’t make it harder on yourself by picking a trite topic that every other student is bound to use.

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