College Essay – What Do I Write About?

If you are like most high school students and have to write a college essay (or several essays!), you may be wondering, “What in the world do I write about?”

Although most college essay questions give guidelines, how you interpret those guidelines can greatly determine the direction of your essay. The best advice about approaching any college admissions essay has to do with the basic theme of knowing who you are and staying true to yourself.

Tips that will work for every college essay:

  1. Be Yourself – This is the most important part of any college essay. Do not be something you are not. This includes trying to sound too scholarly. Also, write about what you know and like. Do not write of how loved working in a soup kitchen if you hated the whole experience. Your distaste will shine through.
  2. Write Your Own Essay – Get knowledgable people to revise and edit your work by all means, but be sure your work stays your own. Do not have others make so many changes that it is unrecognizable to you. Many colleges will take the SAT essay or the ACT essay if you chose to take that part of the test (You should!) and compare it to your admissions essay. Any essay too far off tone will seem suspiciously like you had someone else do your work for you. This would not say much about your integrity and can cause an automatic denial of admission.
  3. Be True to You – No matter how stressed you are about preparing the perfect college essay, be sure you take the first two points to heart. Choosing an essay topic or approach that you are not comfortable with simply because you think it fits a given school does not do you any favors. With over 3,000 colleges and universities to choose from, there is one out there for you. Changing yourself to fit into a given mold may get you into a particular school, but it does not mean you will be happy or successful there.
Twitter is alive with comments such as, “Steps to a College Essay: 1- Open Word 2 Cry.” Remember, the college essay is a chance for you to show yourself, especially when an interview is not possible. Stay true to yourself, do not procrastinate, and have others look over your essay for tips and suggestions rather than complete rewrites.
There is a college out there for you. Put your best word forward and begin writing!


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