College Application Essay
Tips for choosing a prompt

· Have you selected a topic that describes something of personal importance in your life, with which you can use vivid personal experiences as supporting details?

· Is your topic a gimmick? That is, do you plan to write your essay in iambic pentameter or make it funny. You should be very, very careful if you are planning to do this. We recommend strongly that you do not do this. Almost always, this is done poorly and is not appreciated by the admissions committee. Nothing is worse than not laughing or not being amused at something that was written to be funny or amusing.

· Will your topic only repeat information listed elsewhere on your application? If so, pick a new topic. Don’t mention GPAs or standardized test scores in your essay unless you feel your "stats" will be impressive and relevant to the essay.

· Can you offer vivid supporting paragraphs to your essay topic? If you cannot easily think of supporting paragraphs with concrete examples, you should probably choose a different essay topic.

· Can you fully answer the question asked of you? Can you address and elaborate on all points within the specified word limit, or will you end up writing a poor summary of something that might be interesting as a report or research paper? If you plan on writing something technical for college admissions, make sure you truly can back up your interest in a topic and are not merely throwing around big scientific words. Unless you convince the reader that you actually have the life experiences to back up your interest in neurobiology, the reader will assume you are trying to impress him/her with shallow tactics. Also, be sure you can write to admissions officers and that you are not writing over their heads.

· Can you keep the reader's interest from the first word? The entire essay must be interesting, considering admissions officers will probably only spend a few minutes reading each essay.

· Is your topic overdone? To ascertain this, peruse through old essays. However, most topics are overdone, and this is not a bad thing. A unique or convincing answer to a classic topic can pay off big.

· Will your topic turnoff a large number of people? If you write on how everyone should worship your God, how wrong or right abortion is, or how you think the Republican or Democratic Party is evil, you will not get into the college of your choice. The only thing worse than not writing a memorable essay is writing an essay that will be remembered negatively. Stay away from specific religions, political doctrines, or controversial opinions. You can still write an essay about Nietzsche's influence on your life, but express understanding that not all intelligent people will agree with Nietzsche's claims. Emphasize instead Nietzsche's influence on your life, and not why you think he was wrong or right in his claims.

· In this vein, if you are presenting a topic that is controversial, you must acknowledge counter arguments without sounding arrogant.

· Will an admissions officer remember your topic after a day of reading hundreds of essays? What will the officer remember about your topic? What will the officer remember about you? What will your lasting impression be?