What to Write About in a College Application

Harrison Conner / Western Carolina University »

Completing a college application can be scary and challenging, especially if you find it requires a written essay as part of the evaluation. Your big question will be what to include in your essays to demonstrate that you are the perfect fit for the school. Most essays will have a word limit, putting a constraint on the number of topics you can write about. This means you must prioritize and put a solid effort into the topics you feel best to describe how you represent the college’s mission. 

To get started, find a calming area with little to no distractions. If you just came from work, an athletic practice, or an exciting event and want to tackle this essay, take some downtime and give your mind some rest before starting. Collect your thoughts, create a list of information you find important to share, and begin your essay. 

Pick one or two topics to comfortably develop that will give the application committee a personal understanding of who you are. These topics can be tough experiences that have impacted your life and helped shape you into a better person, challenging situations that required you to think outside the box to achieve the results you wanted, or even a time you took a leadership role and made an impact on other people’s lives. Depending on the word limit, you may be able to write about one or more events, but regardless of the constraints, make sure you can put detail in your experiences to really show your personal growth and how each topic impacted you. 

Great College Application Topics

Good topics to consider:

  • Involvement in your community, what you completed, and what you learned from it
  • A failure in your life and how you handled it/what you learned
  • Your greatest achievement
  • An obstacle in your life and how you overcame it

Begin by introducing yourself to the application audience. Describe your background, identity, interests, family, or any specific talents you have that they may not know through your résumé. For example, when applying to dental school, I was asked if I could play any instrument or had a love for arts and crafts. This is because dentists must be good with their hands to ensure the proper care for their patients. If you have any impactful memories or past moments that you believe helped shape who you are today, be sure to include them to give the board a more complete image of who you are. 

There are numerous topics you can choose to include in your essay. You just have to determine which ones best suit your mission of showing the admissions committee that you are right for the school. Find a place where you can work efficiently and take your time. Your essay reveals your personality—something test scores and grades cannot do. Good luck! 


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