Applying To College

College Essay Writing and Interview Skills


Writing College Application Essays: How to Choose a Topic, Part 2

It can be tough deciding on a topic for your college application essay. Many students just can’t think of an idea.

That’s why, in a recent post, I suggested 3 questions to ask yourself if you’re having trouble choosing a topic for your college application essay:

1. Is there a time in my life I’ve taken a risk?

2. Is there a time I’ve turned a failure into a success?

3. Has there been a difficult choice I’ve had to make, but I’m glad I made it?

Here’s another way to choose a topic for your college application essay:

Do this: Close your eyes and think of 2 or 3 moments in your life that stand out. Don’t think too hard! What comes to mind first? Is it a success? A failure? An embarrassment? An opportunity? Maybe it’s a moment spent with a family member, friend, or even someone you briefly met and never saw again. Be honest with yourself. Don’t toss a memory under the rug because it’s painful or embarrassing. Write it down.

Now: Ask yourself why that memory stands out. Did you learn anything from it? Did it change you in any way? Did it influence your actions or thoughts, the choices you later made, or how you see the world somehow?

Sometimes first thoughts are best thoughts. Take the time to figure out why these memories have made an impact on you. They might just make a great college application essay.