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Choosing Your College Essay Topic | Ideas & Examples

Published on October 25, 2021 by Kirsten Courault . Revised on July 3, 2023.

A strong essay topic sets you up to write a unique, memorable college application essay . Your topic should be personal, original, and specific. Take time to brainstorm the right topic for you.

Table of contents

What makes a good topic, brainstorming questions to get started, discover the best topic for you, how to make a common topic compelling, frequently asked questions about college application essays, other interesting articles.

Here are some guidelines for a good essay topic:

  • It’s focused on you and your experience
  • It shares something different from the rest of your application
  • It’s specific and original (not many students could write a similar essay)
  • It affords the opportunity to share your positive stories and qualities

In most cases, avoid topics that

  • Reflect poorly on your character and behavior
  • Deal with a challenge or traumatic experience without a lesson learned or positive outlook

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Spend time reflecting on and writing out answers to the following questions. After doing this exercise, you should be able to identify a few strong topics for your college essay.

Writing about yourself can be difficult. If you’re struggling to identify your topic, try these two strategies.

Start with your qualities

After identifying your positive qualities or values, brainstorm stories that demonstrate these qualities.

Start with a story

If you already have some memorable stories in mind that you’d like to write about, think about which qualities and values you can demonstrate with those stories.

Talk it through

To make sure you choose the right topic, ask for advice from trusted friends or family members who know you well. They can help you brainstorm ideas and remember stories, and they can give you feedback on your potential essay topics.

You can also work with a guidance counselor, teacher, or other mentor to discuss which ideas are most promising. If you plan ahead , you can even workshop multiple draft essays to see which topic works best.

If you do choose a common topic, ensure you have the following to craft a unique essay:

  • Surprising or unexpected story arcs
  • Interesting insight or connections
  • An advanced writing style

Here are a few examples of how to craft strong essays from cliché topics.

Here’s a checklist you can use to confirm that your college essay topic is right for you.

College essay topic checklist

My topic is focused on me, not on someone else.

My topic shares something different from the rest of my application.

My topic is specific and original (not many students could write a similar essay).

My topic reflects positively on my character and behavior.

If I chose to write about a traumatic or challenging experience, my essay will focus on how I overcame it or gained insight.

If I chose a common topic, my essay will have a surprising story arc, interesting insight, and/or an advanced writing style.

Good topic!

It looks like your topic is a good choice. It's specific, it avoids clichés, and it reflects positively on you.

There are no foolproof college essay topics —whatever your topic, the key is to write about it effectively. However, a good topic

  • Is meaningful, specific, and personal to you
  • Focuses on you and your experiences
  • Reveals something beyond your test scores, grades, and extracurriculars
  • Is creative and original

Yes—admissions officers don’t expect everyone to have a totally unique college essay topic . But you must differentiate your essay from others by having a surprising story arc, an interesting insight, and/or an advanced writing style .

To decide on a good college essay topic , spend time thoughtfully answering brainstorming questions. If you still have trouble identifying topics, try the following two strategies:

  • Identify your qualities → Brainstorm stories that demonstrate these qualities
  • Identify memorable stories → Connect your qualities to these stories

You can also ask family, friends, or mentors to help you brainstorm topics, give feedback on your potential essay topics, or recall key stories that showcase your qualities.

Most topics are acceptable for college essays if you can use them to demonstrate personal growth or a lesson learned. However, there are a few difficult topics for college essays that should be avoided. Avoid topics that are:

  • Overly personal (e.g. graphic details of illness or injury, romantic or sexual relationships)
  • Not personal enough (e.g. broad solutions to world problems, inspiring people or things)
  • Too negative (e.g. an in-depth look at your flaws, put-downs of others, criticizing the need for a college essay)
  • Too boring (e.g. a resume of your academic achievements and extracurriculars)
  • Inappropriate for a college essay (e.g. illegal activities, offensive humor, false accounts of yourself, bragging about privilege)

Here’s a brief list of college essay topics that may be considered cliché:

  • Extracurriculars, especially sports
  • Role models
  • Dealing with a personal tragedy or death in the family
  • Struggling with new life situations (immigrant stories, moving homes, parents’ divorce)
  • Becoming a better person after community service, traveling, or summer camp
  • Overcoming a difficult class
  • Using a common object as an extended metaphor

It’s easier to write a standout essay with a unique topic. However, it’s possible to make a common topic compelling with interesting story arcs, uncommon connections, and an advanced writing style.

If you want to know more about academic writing , effective communication , or parts of speech , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Academic writing

  • Writing process
  • Transition words
  • Passive voice
  • Paraphrasing

 Communication

  • How to end an email
  • Ms, mrs, miss
  • How to start an email
  • I hope this email finds you well
  • Hope you are doing well

 Parts of speech

  • Personal pronouns
  • Conjunctions

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60+ College Essay Prompts From Actual 2023-2024 Applications

Ideas to inspire every college applicant.

Discuss a time when reflection or introspection led to clarity or understanding of an issue that is important to you.

Writing a college application essay can be a stressful task for a lot of students. The more practice they get in advance, the better! This roundup of college essay prompts gives applicants a chance to explore their thinking, polish their writing, and prepare to make the best possible impression on selection committees. Every one of these questions is taken from real college applications for the 2023-2024 season, so they’re meaningful and applicable to today’s high school seniors.

Common App 2023-2024 College Essay Prompts

2023-2024 coalition for college essay prompts, life experiences college essay prompts, personal college essay prompts, academics college essay prompts, creative college essay prompts.

Hundreds of colleges and universities use the Common App process . For many schools, this includes responding to one of several college essay topics, which can change each year. Here are the essay prompts for the current application cycle (check with your chosen school/s to see if an essay is required).

  • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  • Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.- college essay prompts

  • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  • Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

More than 150 colleges and universities use the Coalition for College process . Here are their essay prompts for 2023-2024.

  • Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.

Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.

  • What interests or excites you? How does it shape who you are now or who you might become in the future?
  • Describe a time when you had a positive impact on others. What were the challenges? What were the rewards?
  • Has there been a time when an idea or belief of yours was questioned? How did you respond? What did you learn?
  • What success have you achieved or obstacle have you faced? What advice would you give a sibling or friend going through a similar experience?

What success have you achieved or obstacle have you faced? What advice would you give a sibling or friend going through a similar experience?

  • Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

Answer these questions by sharing specific examples from your own experience.

  • Who is your favorite conversation partner? What do you discuss with that person?
  • Discuss a time when reflection or introspection led to clarity or understanding of an issue that is important to you.
  • Share an example of how you have used your own critical-thinking skills on a specific subject, project, idea, or interest.

Share an example of how you have used your own critical-thinking skills on a specific subject, project, idea, or interest.- college essay prompts

  • Describe a time when you were challenged by a perspective that differed from your own. How did you respond?
  • What are the best words of advice you have received? Who shared them, and how have you applied them in your own life?
  • Elaborate on an activity or experience you have had that made an impact on a community that is important to you.
  • Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you.
  • Who do you agree with on the big, important things, or who do you have your most interesting disagreements with? What are you agreeing or disagreeing about?
  • Reflect on a personal experience where you intentionally expanded your cultural awareness.
  • When was the last time you questioned something you had thought to be true?
  • Discuss the significance to you of the school or summer activity in which you have been most involved.
  • Reflect on a time when you or someone you observed had to make a choice about whether to act with integrity and honesty.
  • Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.

Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.

  • Describe a time you did not meet expectations and what impact the experience had on you.

These essay topics give schools a better sense of who you are, what you value, and the kind of student citizen you might be.

  • What drives you to create, and what do you hope to make or have you made?
  • Which book, character, song, monologue, or piece of work (fiction or nonfiction) seems made for you? Why?
  • What would you want your future college roommate to know about you?
  • How has your own background influenced the types of problems you want to solve, the people you want to work with, and the impact you hope your work can have?

How has your own background influenced the types of problems you want to solve, the people you want to work with, and the impact you hope your work can have?- college essay prompts

  • Describe any meaningful travel experiences you’ve had.
  • What would you want to be different in your own country or community to further principles of equality, equity, or social justice?
  • What strength or quality do you have that most people might not see or recognize?
  • If you could live your life fighting for one cause, what would it be and why?
  • What gives meaning to your life?
  • If you wrote a letter to yourself to be opened in 20 years, what would it say?
  • If you had the power to change the course of history in your community or the world, what would you do and why?

If you had the power to change the course of history in your community or the world, what would you do and why?

  • Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.
  • What is the greatest compliment you have ever been given? Why was it meaningful to you?
  • Explain how a text you’ve read—fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or literature of any kind—has helped you to understand the world’s complexity.

Topics like these show your academic interests and demonstrate your commitment to learning and discovery.

  • What does it mean to you to be educated?
  • What is your motivation for pursuing higher education?
  • Describe your reasons for wanting to attend the specific school you’re applying to. Who or what factored into your decision?
  • Academic inquiry starts with bold questions. What are some of the bold questions you have pondered that get you excited, and why do they interest you?

Academic inquiry starts with bold questions. What are some of the bold questions you have pondered that get you excited, and why do they interest you?- college essay prompts

  • What has been your best academic experience in the last two years, and what made it so good?
  • If you decide to take a “gap year” between high school and college, what would you do during that time?
  • Many schools place a high value on diverse student populations. How can you contribute to and support a diverse and inclusive student population at your chosen school?
  • Imagine you were just awarded a research grant for a project of your choice. What are you researching and why?
  • What do you love about the subject(s) you selected as potential major(s)? If undecided, share more about one of your academic passions.

What do you love about the subject(s) you selected as potential major(s)? If undecided, share more about one of your academic passions.

  • Describe a time when you’ve felt empowered or represented by an educator.
  • Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

Use these college essay topics to show off your creativity and innovative thinking.

  • You are tasked with creating a new category for the Nobel Prize. Explain what it would be, why you chose your specific category, and the criteria necessary to achieve this accomplishment.

You are tasked with creating a new category for the Nobel Prize. Explain what it would be, why you chose your specific category, and the criteria necessary to achieve this accomplishment.

  • Pick one person—a historical figure, fictitious character, or modern individual—to converse with for an hour, and explain your choice.
  • If you could witness a historic event (past, present, or future) firsthand, what would it be and why?
  • If you could have a theme song, what would it be and why?
  • Discuss a book that you would call a “great book.” What makes the book great in your view?
  • If you could give any historical figure any piece of technology, who and what would it be, and why do you think they’d work so well together?
  • If I could travel anywhere, I would go to …
  • My favorite thing about last Tuesday was …
  • Write a short thank-you note to someone you have not yet thanked and would like to acknowledge.
  • If you had 10 minutes and the attention of a million people, what would your TED Talk be about?
  • What are your three favorite words in the English language? Explain what they mean to you.
  • Imagine that you could have one superpower. What would it be and how would you use it? What would be your kryptonite?

Imagine that you could have one superpower. What would it be and how would you use it? What would be your kryptonite?- college essay prompts

  • Which Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor (real or imagined) best describes you?
  • If you could create a college course that all students would take, what would it be about and why?
  • What website is the internet missing?

How do you help your students prepare their college application essays? Come share your ideas and ask for advice in the We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook .

Plus, check out  the ultimate guide to college scholarships.

Looking for writing ideas for your college application? These college essay prompts offer inspirational topics that let every student shine.

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College Admissions , College Essays

feature_whoareyou

When talking about college essays, we tend to focus on the Common Application prompts , and it's true that many students will need to write a Common App essay. However, there are actually quite a few schools, including both public and private universities, that don't use the Common App and instead ask applicants to respond to their own college essay prompts.

Luckily, college essay prompts tend to be pretty similar to each other. In this guide, I'll list all the college essay questions for popular schools in the US (and a few abroad) and then break down the patterns to help you brainstorm topics and plan how to approach multiple essays efficiently. After reading this guide, you'll be able to strategize which essays you'll write for which colleges.

Feature image: Mayr /Flickr

Why Do Colleges Ask For an Essay?

The short answer: the essay gives admissions committees a sense of your personality beyond the statistics on the rest of your application. The essay is your chance to show the committee your unique perspective and impress them with your maturity and insight.

College application essay prompts are written with this goal in mind. Admissions officers want to give you the chance to share your interests, aspirations, and views on the world, so most prompts ask about how your experiences have shaped you or what you're excited about studying or doing in college. I've collected a ton of examples below and provided some analysis to help you begin planning and crafting your own essays.

Keep in mind that the personal statement alone won't be enough to get you in— your grades and test scores are still the most important factors in your application . That being said, a stellar essay can help bring a borderline applicant over the top or give an excellent but not extraordinary student the opportunity to stand out in a competitive applicant pool.

As such, the essay tends to matter most for very competitive schools. Non-competitive schools generally don't ask you to submit an essay.

Complete List of College Essay Prompts

This list collects the 2022 college essay prompts for major state universities, top-50 schools, and other popular schools which have their own unique questions. They're divided by region, with all optional essays listed at the end.

I left off the Common App supplements, as those often require a substantially different approach. I also stuck to four-year schools, meaning I didn't include special two-year programs, such as Deep Springs College or Miami Dade College's Honors Program (both of which require essays).

Finally, note that these prompts are for freshman applicants, so the requirements might be different for transfer students .

General Applications

There are three general applications you can use to apply to many different schools at once:

Common Application

Universal college application, coalition application.

Each application has its own personal statement requirement. Some schools will ask for additional supplemental essays.

Many more schools accept the Common App than they do the UCA or Coalition Application , though some will accept more than one of these applications.

For the Common App essay, you pick one of the prompts and write 250-650 words about it. Here are the prompts for the 2022-2023 school year:

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma—anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

The UCA essay prompt is completely open ended and has a 650-word limit. Here is the 2022-2023 prompt:

Please write an essay that demonstrates your ability to develop and communicate your thoughts. Some ideas include: a person you admire; a life-changing experience; or your viewpoint on a particular current event.

For the Coalition Application, you'll pick one of five prompts listed below. While there is no hard word limit, the range guidelines are 500-650 words. Here are the prompts for 2022-2023:

What interests or excites you? How does it shape who you are now or who you might become in the future?

Describe a time when you had a positive impact on others. What were the challenges? What were the rewards?

Has there been a time when an idea or belief of yours was questioned? How did you respond? What did you learn?

What success have you achieved or obstacle have you faced? What advice would you give a sibling or friend going through a similar experience?

Now that you know the essay requirements for the three general applications, let’s look at the application essays for specific schools . To keep things organized, we’ve grouped schools based on the region of the US in which they’re located.

Northeast/Mid-Atlantic

body_mit-3

The Great Dome at MIT

Georgetown University

Georgetown asks applicants to write one short essay (about half a single-spaced page) and two longer essays (approximately one single-spaced page each). Each applicant must respond to the first two prompts and can choose among the other four based on the specific program she's interested in.

Short Essay: Briefly (approximately one-half page, single-spaced) discuss the significance to you of the school or summer activity in which you have been most involved.

All Applicants: As Georgetown is a diverse community, the Admissions Committee would like to know more about you in your own words. Please submit a brief essay, either personal or creative, which you feel best describes you.

Applicants to Georgetown College: What does it mean to you to be educated? How might Georgetown College help you achieve this aim? (Applicants to the Sciences and Mathematics or the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics should address their chosen course of study).

Applicants to the School of Nursing & Health Studies: Describe the factors that have influenced your interest in studying health care. Please specifically address your intended major (Global Health, Health Care Management & Policy, Human Science, or Nursing).

Applicants to the Walsh School of Foreign Service: The Walsh School of Foreign Service was founded more than a century ago to prepare generations of leaders to solve global problems. What is motivating you to dedicate your undergraduate studies to a future in service to the world?

Applicants to the McDonough School of Business: The McDonough School of Business is a national and global leader in providing graduates with essential ethical, analytical, financial and global perspectives. Please discuss your motivations for studying business at Georgetown.

For more Georgetown application tips, check out our articles on the Georgetown essays and how to get into Georgetown .

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT doesn't ask for a single personal statement but rather asks applicants to respond to a series of questions with just a paragraph or two of about 200 words each .

We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do simply for the pleasure of it.

Describe the world you come from (for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town). How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations?

MIT brings people with diverse backgrounds and experiences together to better the lives of others. Our students work to improve their communities in different ways, from tackling the world’s biggest challenges to being a good friend. Describe one way you have collaborated with people who are different from you to contribute to your community.

Tell us about a significant challenge you've faced (that you feel comfortable sharing) or something that didn't go according to plan. How did you manage the situation?

For more details on how to get into MIT , read our other articles on the MIT application process , tips for MIT essays , and an example of a real MIT acceptance letter !

body_UWMadison

University of Wisconsin, Madison

Indiana University Bloomington

IU asks for 200-400 words on your plans and interests.

Describe your academic and career plans and any special interest (for example, undergraduate research, academic interests, leadership opportunities, etc.) that you are eager to pursue as an undergraduate at Indiana University. If you encountered any unusual circumstances, challenges, or obstacles in pursuit of your education, share those experiences and how you overcame them. Please note that this essay may be used in scholarship consideration.

University of Illinois

The University of Illinois asks for two essays (or three only if you selected a second-choice major other than what's noted on your application). All responses should be approximately 150 words.

You'll answer two to three prompts as part of your application. The questions you'll answer will depend on whether you're applying to a major or to our undeclared program, and if you've selected a second choice. Each response should be approximately 150 words. If You're Applying to a Major: 1.  Explain, in detail, an experience you've had in the past 3 to 4 years related to your first-choice major. This can be an experience from an extracurricular activity, in a class you’ve taken, or through something else. 2.  Describe your personal and/or career goals after graduating from UIUC and how your selected first-choice major will help you achieve them. If You're Applying to Our Undeclared Program in the Division of General Studies: 1.  What are your academic interests and strengths? You may also include any majors you are considering. 2.  What are your future academic or career goals? If You've Selected a Second-Choice Major (Including Undeclared): Please explain your interest in your second-choice major or your overall academic or career goals.

If you're applying to UIUC, check out our UIUC essay tips article as well!

University of Wisconsin–Madison

All applicants must complete two essays for UW–Madison. The essays should be 250-650 words in length and may be used for scholarship and campus program review.

If you apply through the Common Application, you’ll be asked to reply to one of the freshman Common Application essays in lieu of the first essay prompt below, but you’ll be required to respond to the second prompt below. 

If you apply through the UW System Application, the following two essays are required:

This part is all about you. Tell us about something you've done — academically or personally — and what you've learned from it. Was it a success or a challenge? Did it represent a turning point in your life? How did this particular moment in your life influence you, and how will it continue to influence you as you pursue your college education?

Tell us why you would like to attend the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In addition, please include why you are interested in studying the major(s) you have selected. If you selected undecided please describe your areas of possible academic interest.

most common college essay topic

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Craft Your Perfect College Essay

Kyle Field at Texas A&M ( Ed Schipul /Flickr)

The ApplyTexas application is used by all Texas public universities and some private colleges. There are four ApplyTexas essay prompts. Which ones you need to respond to will depend on where you're applying. UT Austin, for example, requires applicants to submit at least one essay responding to Topic A on the ApplyTexas application. .

While there's no set word limit, the online application will cut off each essay at 120 lines (~1000 words).

Topic A: Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today?

Topic B: Most students have an identity, an interest, or a talent that defines them in an essential way. Tell us about yourself.

Topic C: You've got a ticket in your hand – Where will you go? What will you do? What will happen when you get there?

Topic D: Please Note: The essay in this section is specific to certain college majors and is not required by all colleges/universities that accept the Apply Texas Application. If you are not applying for a major in Architecture, Art, Art History, Design, Studio Art, Visual Art Studies/Art Education , you are not required to write this essay.

Personal interaction with objects, images and spaces can be so powerful as to change the way one thinks about particular issues or topics. For your intended area of study (architecture, art history, design, studio art, visual art studies/art education), describe an experience where instruction in that area or your personal interaction with an object, image or space effected this type of change in your thinking. What did you do to act upon your new thinking and what have you done to prepare yourself for further study in this area?

We go into all the ApplyTexas prompts in detail here !

University of Georgia

For UGA, applicants must write two essays, one 200-300 words and one 250-650 words . Both essays are required for all applicants. The longer personal essay uses the Common Application prompts for 2023 ; the prompt for the shorter essay is as follows:

The c ollege admissions process can create anxiety. In an attempt to make it less stressful, please tell us an interesting or amusing story about yourself from your high school years that you have not already shared in your application.

For a more detailed discussion of the UGA essays, read this article .

body_UCBerkeley-1

The Campanile at UC Berkeley

University of California

Students applying to the UC system must respond to four out of eight short personal insight questions. The maximum word count for each response is 350 words.

  • Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.
  • Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.
  • What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
  • Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.
  • Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?
  • Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.
  • What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
  • Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

Learn more about the UC essays , the UC application , and how to choose which UC schools to apply to with our complete guides .

University of Oregon

Applicants to the University of Oregon are required to submit one essay of 650 words or fewer. You also have the option to write a second essay (maximum of 500 words), but it’s not required.

The essay prompts are as follows:

The UO is interested in learning more about you. Write an essay of 650 words or less that shares information that we cannot find elsewhere on your application. Any topic you choose is welcome. Some ideas you might consider include your future ambitions and goals, a special talent, extracurricular activity, or unusual interest that sets you apart from your peers, or a significant experience that influenced your life. If you are applying to the UO's Robert D. Clark Honors College, feel free to resubmit your honors college application essay.

Optional second essay: As you've looked into what it will be like to attend Oregon, you've hopefully learned what makes Ducks Ducks. No two are alike, though, so tell us what makes you you, and how that connects to our campus community. We are interested in your thoughts and experiences recognizing difference and supporting equity and inclusion, and choosing one of these two options will guide you in sharing those thoughts. You can learn more about equity and inclusion at Oregon by visiting the Equity and Inclusion website . Maximum statement length is 500 words. This statement is not required.

University of Washington

In addition to its specific prompts, the University of Washington gives specific advice about what its admissions officers consider to be good writing before the prompts:

"At the UW, we consider the college essay as our opportunity to see the person behind the transcripts and the numbers. Some of the best statements are written as personal stories. In general, concise, straightforward writing is best, and good essays are often 300-400 words in length.

Essay Prompt (Required): Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped shape it. Maximum length: 650 words.

Short Response (Required): Our families and our communities often define us and our individual worlds. Community might refer to your cultural group, extended family, religious group, neighborhood or school, sports team or club, co-workers, etc. Describe the world you come from and how you, as a product of it, might add to the diversity of the UW. Maximum length: 300 words

You can also find more tips on the University of Washington essays in this blog article .

International

Generally speaking, international schools are less likely to ask for an essay, since admission tends to be heavily focused on grades and test results. However, a few popular international schools do ask for a personal statement as part of their application.

Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UK Schools)

UCAS is a general application for UK schools (similar to the Common App in the US). There's no specific prompt for the personal statement—instead, applicants are required to write an essay describing what they want to study, why they want to study it, and what they bring to the table. There is a 4,000-character/47-line limit.

University of British Columbia

UBC asks applicants to fill out a personal profile consisting of five to seven short-answer questions that vary depending on the program you're applying to. Answers should be 50-200 words.

Depending on which degree program you apply to, you’ll be asked to answer some or all of the following questions on the UBC application:

  • Tell us about who you are. How would your family, friends, and/or members of your community describe you? If possible, please include something about yourself that you are most proud of and why.
  • What is important to you? And why?
  • Family/community responsibilities
  • Creative or performing arts
  • Work/employment
  • Service to others
  • Tell us more about one or two activities listed above that are most important to you. Please explain the role you played and what you learned in the process. You will be asked for a reference who can speak to your response.
  • Additional information: You may wish to use the space below to provide UBC with more information on your academic history to date and/or your future academic plans. For example: How did you choose your courses in secondary school? Are there life circumstances that have affected your academic decisions to date? What have you done to prepare yourself specifically for your intended area of study at UBC?
  • Please submit the names of two referees who know you well and can comment on your preparedness for study at UBC. Examples of referees include an employer, a community member, a coach, a teacher/instructor, or anyone who knows you well. One of the referees you select must be able to speak to one of the activities/experiences described in one of your long-answer responses above. For applicants who are currently attending a high school, one of your referees must be a school official (e.g., Grade 12 or senior year counsellor, teacher, or IB coordinator). Neither referee should be a friend, family member, or paid agent.

Some programs of study may ask applicants to respond to the questions above and some additional, program-specific questions when completing the personal profile.

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University of Cambridge

Optional Essays

Some schools don't require an essay from all applicants but do recommend or require an essay for certain programs. I've listed a selection of those prompts below.

Arizona State University

Students applying to the Barrett Honors College at ASU must submit one essay of 300 to 500 words in response to one of the following prompts (your response may be critical or creative):

Prompt 1 Discuss how a specific piece of art (painting, literature, photograph, etc.) or popular culture (song, comic book, etc.) helped you realize something new about yourself or the world. What was that realization, and how did the piece of art or pop culture bring about this change in your thinking? Do not simply describe the piece of art or pop culture; instead, focus on its effect on you and how it makes you a good fit for the Barrett Honors College experience. Prompt 2 Tell us about a habit or way of thinking that others would recognize as “uniquely you.” This is something you value and would hesitate to give up because it is a distinct part of who you are or what makes you different - why is it so? Be sure to share how this aspect of your identity makes you a good fit for the Barrett Honors College experience.

City University of New York

Applicants to Macaulay Honors College must write two essays: an “about you” essay, and an essay describing your plans for college. Each response should be around 500 words, give or take a few within reason.

Essay 1: About you. (Select one of the options below.) Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. OR Tell us about an area or activity, outside of academics, in which you have invested a lot of time and effort. Tell us why. What did you learn? How was it meaningful?

Essay 2: About your plans for college. Please discuss all points below. Why do you want to go to an honors college ? There are many benefits of being a Macaulay student, such as the Macaulay community, special courses, Honors advisement, cultural passport, opportunities funds, and other financial benefits. Please describe how these features will shape you and your college experience, including, what you expect to bring to the college community and what you expect to get out of your college experience.

Florida International University

Only applicants who don't meet the criteria for automatic admissions and whose applications undergo holistic review will need to submit a 500-word essay:

Students requesting appeal or additional review of their admission status must submit a written statement including:

Your goals and educational or professional objectives

A summary/explanation of past academic performance

Information and/or circumstances that may have affected past academic performance

  • Any other information the student wishes to have considered

Ohio University

For the Ohio University application, students who've been out of school for more than a year must submit an essay explaining what they've done in their time off from school.

Applicants who have been out of high school for more than one year must submit an essay detailing activities since graduation.

Additionally, applicants to the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism are encouraged, though not required, to submit an essay detailing how they want to help shape the future of journalism.

For all other applicants, submitting an essay here is optional; however, if you do wish to write an essay, the application suggests that you describe any academic challenges you’ve faced, academic and career objectives, or involvement in community affairs (recommended length is 250-500 words).

Those interested in Ohio University's OHIO Honors Program (including the Cutler Scholars Program) are required to answer the following essay prompt (limit 250 words):

Students in the OHIO Honors Program represent all majors on campus and take engaging honors courses while applying what they learn outside of the classroom. Students choose from classes and experiences across three pathways: community engagement, research and creative activity, and leadership . Students in OHP can move among the three pathways as their interests evolve and they develop their goals. What pathway is most exciting to you right now, and why?

Finally, those interested in the Honors Tutorial College are must answer the following two essay prompts (in about 500 words each):

HTC Question 1: Please explain why you have chosen your particular program(s) of study.

HTC Question 2: We expect that one reason you seek a tutorial education is for the one-on-one interaction with faculty, but other than that, what interests you about pursuing a tutorial-based undergraduate education? What aspects of your education and life experience have prepared you for a tutorial education with its emphasis on research and creative activity?

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Type 1: Questions About a Meaningful Experience

This type of college essay question is the most common. The exact focus of these prompts can vary quite a bit, but they all ask you to reflect on an important experience. Some questions specify a type of experience whereas others don't, simply opting to have applicants write about whatever matters to them.

There are three basic sub-types that you'll see when dealing with these prompts. Let's look at an example of each.

#1: Overcoming a Challenge

These prompts ask about how you dealt with a particular challenge or solved a problem. Below is a typical example of this question type from the MIT application:

Tell us about the most significant challenge you've faced or something important that didn't go according to plan. How did you manage the situation?

To address a question like this, you need a topic that has real stakes —that is, something that you genuinely struggled with. Even though it can seem as though you should only discuss positive experiences and feelings in your college essay (you want to impress your readers with how awesome you are!), unwavering positivity actually hurts your essay because it makes you seem fake.

Instead, be honest : if you're writing about a negative experience, acknowledge that it was unpleasant or hard and explain why. Doing so will just make your overcoming it that much more impressive.

#2: Engaging With Diversity

Questions about diversity ask how you interact with those who are different from you . See an example below from the Common Application:

When approaching this type of question, you need to show that you're thoughtful about new ideas and perspectives. Colleges are full of students from all kinds of backgrounds, and admissions officers want to know that you'll be accepting of the diversity of other students, even if you don't necessarily agree with them.

Also, make sure to pick a specific instance to focus on. Writing a general essay about how you accept others won't impress admissions officers—you need to show them an example of a time that you did so.

#3: Growing Up

Finally, this type of prompt asks about a transitional experience or rite of passage that made you feel like an adult. I've reprinted another example from the Common App:

For these types of prompts, you want to show personal growth. Explain to the reader not just who you are but also how you've changed . (Really, this is a good idea no matter which prompt you're addressing!)

College can be challenging, so admissions officers want to know that you have the maturity to deal with (likely) living on your own, managing your own life, and planning for your future.

Regardless of the exact prompt, the key to this type of college essay is to show what you've learned from the experience. Admissions officers don't care that much about what happened to you—they care about what you think and feel about that event. That's what will give them a sense of who you are and what kind of college student you'll make.

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Once you write a first draft, put it in a drawer for a week. Taking some time away from it will allow you to come back to it with fresh eyes. Then, try to read your essay from the perspective of someone who knows nothing about you. Would they be able to understand the story? Do you explain clearly what you learned? Does your intro grab the reader's attention?

It can also be helpful to ask someone you trust, such as a parent, teacher, or peer, to read your essay and give you feedback. Really listen to what they say and think about how you can improve your writing.

Finally, try reading your essay aloud. This will help you catch any weird or awkward phrasings.

What's Next?

If you're struggling with how to approach your personal statement, consider looking at some college essay examples .

The essay is just one part of the college application process. Check out our guide to applying to college for a step-by-step breakdown of what you'll need to do.

Finally, if you're planning to take the SAT or ACT , consider taking a look at our expert test-prep guides for some helpful advice on whatever you might be struggling with.

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

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Alex is an experienced tutor and writer. Over the past five years, she has worked with almost a hundred students and written about pop culture for a wide range of publications. She graduated with honors from University of Chicago, receiving a BA in English and Anthropology, and then went on to earn an MA at NYU in Cultural Reporting and Criticism. In high school, she was a National Merit Scholar, took 12 AP tests and scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and ACT.

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8 College Essay Topics

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Exploring College Essay Topics

Good college essay topics are as varied and widespread as the universities that require them. So, students will encounter many college application essay formats throughout the admissions process. These include the standard college admission essay, supplemental essay, personal statement, and personal challenge essay, to name a few. 

Whether it’s the “why Northwestern” essay or the Columbia essay prompts, good college essay topics help schools learn more about you and your life experiences. So, you should work to find compelling college essay ideas that reflect your identity. This will help you craft strong responses to any college essay topics you encounter.

Generating college essay ideas

Many students want to know how to write better essays. Students also might wonder how to start a college essay—after all, finding the right “hook” for your college essays can make a major difference. In this guide, we’ll walk you through every aspect of the essay process. 

Different college essay topics require different types of responses. For instance, a “why major” essay should not read the same way as an extracurricular activities essay. Reading college essay examples can also help when considering how to approach different college essay topics. 

This article will look at some of the common categories for college essay topics. We’ll also provide some college essay tips and discuss what makes a great college essay stand out from the rest. Most importantly, we’ll discuss how to write better essays so you feel prepared to start the process.

College Admission Essays

college essay topics

Before we discuss different college essay topics, let’s delve into a bit more context. Specifically, let’s discuss what a college admission essay is and why most top schools require them. 

A college admission essay is a written response, usually between 150 and 650 words, to a specific question or prompt on a college application. Some essays, like the Common Application essay, are standardized. Students have up to 650 words to respond to one of seven college essay topics that every Common Application school receives. 

Other college application essays are considered supplemental essays. These supplemental essays are unique to each individual college or university, though these college essay topics do tend to fall into some common categories. Some school essay requirements, like the NYU supplemental essays, also vary based on the program you apply to.

Understanding the college essay format

Whether it’s a personal statement or supplemental essay, the college application essay format is meant to help admissions officers get to know students better. The college essay format also allows applicants to share information about themselves that may not be clear from the rest of their application. In addition, these college essay examples allow admissions officers to evaluate each student’s character, writing ability, and overall fit for their school.

Good college essay topics help admissions officers to get to know students. So, the best college admission essays provide personal details not found elsewhere in a student’s application. What makes a great college essay is that it could only have been written by the person who submits it. That means you should highlight specific details about your life and experiences. Remember that your college essays are your only chance to provide admissions officers with some insight as to who you are, so don’t hold back!

What are the most common college essay topics?

Most college essay examples fall into one of the following general categories. Although language in individual prompts may vary, the college application essay format will often look like one of the following:

8 Most Common College Essay Topics

1. personal statement.

The personal statement category includes college essay topics about your life and experiences. A personal statement will often pertain to a challenging moment in your life or a time in which you grew or learned a lesson. For most students, the personal statement is akin to the Common App essay. 

2. “Why School” Essay

The why school essay is one of the most common examples of supplemental essays. These college essay topics ask students to describe why they believe a particular college is a good fit for them.

3. “Why Major” Essay

The why major essay asks students to describe why they are interested in the major that they listed on their application. This college application essay format is more common at large universities, where students may be applying to a specific school or program within the school.

4. Personal Challenge Essay

These college essay topics ask students to reflect on a specific obstacle they have overcome in their lives. The requirements are similar to those of the personal statement, where the subject is the writer’s personal life.

5. Cultural Diversity Essay

The cultural diversity essay asks students to reflect on their heritage and how their unique background has influenced their life. Colleges often seek to recruit a diverse student body, and these college essays allow students to share how they would fit into that environment.

6. Extracurricular Activities Essay

These essays ask students to describe an activity they have done during their high school years and how it has prepared them to succeed in college. These are often short essays, meaning that their word counts tend to be 150 or fewer.

7. Unique College Essay

Some good college essay topics do not fit into one of the categories above. Instead, these essays ask students to think outside the box by responding to an unorthodox prompt. These college essay ideas are often some of the most difficult to write about.

Personal Statement

college essay topics

Our first category within our college essay topics is the personal statement. You’ll likely submit a personal statement to every school where you apply. 

As the name suggests, you should be the subject of your personal statement. Likewise, the essay should showcase the parts of yourself that you want to feature. The prompts for essays in this category vary widely. However, the most common example of a personal statement that you will encounter is the Common Application essay.

Although the Common Application essay prompts do change from year to year, they all pertain to your life and experiences. Plus, nearly all of the top schools in the country that use the Common Application require you to answer one of its essay prompts. Listed below are the essay prompts for the 2023-2024 Common Application :

Common App Essay Prompts

1. some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. if this sounds like you, then please share your story., 2. the lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. how did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience, 3. reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. what prompted your thinking what was the outcome, 4. reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. how has this gratitude affected or motivated you, 5. discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others., 6. describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. why does it captivate you what or who do you turn to when you want to learn more, 7. share an essay on any topic of your choice. it can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design., how to write a college essay about yourself.

The most important step in how to write better essays is to focus on yourself. At times, it can feel uncomfortable to focus the entire essay on your accomplishments. However, remember that this essay should help your reader get to know you better. So, before you start writing, think about what aspects of your character you want to showcase. In fact, when generating college essay ideas, it can help to write down a short list of qualities that you want to highlight.

The next step in how to start a college essay about yourself is to select the right prompt. Your prompt should connect to you and your experiences. If you don’t resonate with any of the Common App’s good college essay topics, remember that you can create your own. Just make sure that the topic relates to you personally.

When you actually start writing, think about using the prompt to tell a story . Try to share parts of yourself that have not been featured in other areas of your application. So, your essay should focus on a narrative rather than a list of facts or examples. For example, if you choose prompt #4, you should not simply write several paragraphs about what gratitude means to you. Instead, focus on a compelling story about a time when you learned about the importance of gratitude. Finally, make sure that you are the central figure in whatever story you tell.

The Why School Essay

Next on our list of good college essay topics is the why school essay. Each of these prompts is specific to a particular school. So, a “why Yale essay” will look very different from a “why Duke essay” even though the prompt is structured similarly for both schools.

Simply put, a why school essay asks you to explain the reasons why you want to attend that particular school and what you hope to achieve there.

college essay topics

Many schools feature a why school essay. So, let’s highlight two examples of what these college essay topics look like. 

Why school essay examples

The “why Yale essay” prompt allows students a maximum word count of 125. It asks, “What is it about Yale that has led you to apply?”. In a similar college application essay format, the “why Duke Essay” prompt asks, “What is your sense of Duke as a university and a community, and why do you consider it a good match for you? If there’s something in particular about our offerings that attracts you, feel free to share that as well.” This essay has a 250-word count limit.

Using a why school essay prompt serves a few purposes for an admissions office. It allows your application readers to see how much research you have done about their campus and facilities. Additionally, it helps them understand what you might bring to their campus as a prospective student. In the end, it’s all about seeing whether you would be a good fit for the school and whether the school would be a good fit for you. 

Structuring a Why School Essay

When writing a why school essay, it is still important to keep yourself as the central focus. Using specific examples, write about what makes the school a good fit for you. So, don’t just start with the most well-known or popular features of a school. A school may have just built a brand new science building, but it is likely not worth writing about unless you plan to major in a scientific discipline. So, before writing, think about the criteria on your personal college list. Then, identify two or three areas in which the school you’re writing about meets them. Remember that these are often short essays, so don’t try to fit in too many college essay ideas at once.

Then, get specific and do some research! If you have visited the school, consider identifying some of the features you enjoyed seeing on your visit. Additionally, if there is a specific professor, lab, program, club, team, or opportunity that interests you, mention those details here. The more specific research you show, the better your case for attending a school will be. However, it is not enough to simply list names and facts in your essay. Instead, describe how these opportunities will help you achieve your goals. Then, highlight why you want to be a part of this particular school’s community.

Nearly every top school in the country, including the Columbia supplemental essays and the why Northwestern essay, uses these college essay topics. Because each prompt is specific to each school, you should avoid using the same generic college essay ideas in each response. Good college essay topics show individuality as well as evidence of reflection and research. 

For more information about how to write a good why school essay, check out our CollegeAdvisor.com resources here . 

The Why Major Essay

college essay topics

The why major essay relates to the why school essay because they both ask about your reasons for being interested in a college. The difference is that a why school essay focuses on the school as a whole, whereas a why major essay asks specifically about your field of study within the school. Many universities include these supplemental essay prompts if students are applying to a particularly popular program at the school. Other schools use these short essay topics to learn more about students’ academic interests and goals.

The UPenn supplemental essay, the Rice supplemental essay, and the Cornell supplemental essays all feature questions that ask about students’ majors. The UPenn supplemental essay prompt has a 150-200 word limit. Here is UPenn’s why major prompt:  “Considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected, describe how you intend to explore your academic and intellectual interests at the University of Pennsylvania.”

The Rice supplemental essay prompt is similar. It gives students a maximum of 150 words to respond to the following statement: “Please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected.”

The Cornell supplemental essays across their eight undergraduate colleges ask similar questions. This prompt comes from Arts and Sciences, their most popular program: “Students in Arts and Sciences embrace the opportunity to delve into multifaceted academic interests, embodying in 21st century terms Ezra Cornell’s ‘any person…any study’ founding vision. Tell us about the areas of study you are excited to explore, and specifically why you wish to pursue them in our College.” 

Choosing a major for your college essay

You might have many college essay ideas when it comes to writing a why major essay. Still, the best college admission essays in this category are focused and detailed. Therefore, before you start writing, it is important to reflect on your academic interests. Think about how you first became interested in your intended major. What past experiences have you had in this field? What do you hope to accomplish with the degree you wish to pursue? These guiding questions will help give your essay direction and clarity, even before a single word hits the page.

Your interest in your chosen major should stem from a passion for the subject. Some students make the mistake of focusing on their future earnings or talking about how parents or relatives expect them to pick a certain major. Remember that you are the one who will be attending the school and taking hundreds of hours of coursework in this subject. So, make sure you have a good reason for choosing it.

Undecided majors

If you are not sure what major you want to pursue, that’s okay. You can still give a thoughtful answer to this prompt. This is a great time to describe your intellectual curiosity or your passion for multiple disparate subjects. You can also discuss your favorite school subjects or the aspects of learning that you most enjoy, such as a particular science experiment or a time period in history that fascinates you. There are many different college essay ideas that you can pursue even with an undecided major.

Remember that with the exception of a few specialized programs, you will not be forced to stay with the major that you list on your college application. Many schools do not even require students to officially declare their major until their sophomore year. For guidance on selecting a major that is right for you, check out this link . And for more general college essay tips and college essay ideas, see this guide from Harvard University .

Personal Challenge Essay

college essay topics

Our next subject in this series of college essay topics is the personal challenge essay. The personal challenge essay asks students to recount a story in which they overcame some hardship or obstacle and learned a lesson about themselves in the process. These good college essay topics are excellent times to display character traits such as perseverance, dedication, grit, and leadership.

Fordham University’s supplemental essay prompt states: “At Fordham, we expect students to care for and engage with their communities. Please share a specific instance in which you challenged yourself or stepped out of your comfort zone in order to be an advocate for your community.” 

In a slightly different approach, the Emory University supplemental essays provide several options for students to discuss their personal growth. They include prompts like, “Reflect on a personal experience where you intentionally expanded your cultural awareness.” and, “When was the last time you questioned something you had thought to be true?”

Crafting a memorable college essay

A good personal challenge essay can take a variety of forms. Overall, there are many good college essay ideas students can draw from within this theme. This article from U.S. News illustrates some of the more common themes that students employ when approaching these college essay topics. The most important part of any personal challenge essay is authenticity. Nobody’s story is inherently better or worse than anyone else’s. You do not need to write about heavy tragedy in order to develop a good personal challenge essay.

Start by coming up with a list of college essay ideas. These should be stories from your life that present you in a different light, one not seen in other areas of your application. Then, pick a specific story from your list of college essay ideas that presents you in a positive manner and shows off the traits you want your readers to see. The best college admission essays tell one specific and compelling story rather than list several college essay ideas in one response. 

Another important facet of these college essay topics is the demonstration of growth. The important part of your essay is not the severity of the challenge itself, but how you reacted to it and grew from the experience. Make sure you avoid vague sentiments or platitudes like, “I became a better person,” or “This experience caused me to see the world in a new way.” Instead, focus on what you specifically gained from going through this challenging time. In addition, think about what skills or characteristics you showed in overcoming the challenge. Then, use the essay to highlight them.

Cultural Diversity Essay

college essay topics

The cultural diversity essay is a popular topic for a college admission essay. So, understanding how to write college essays of this type is vital. But, before we dive into just how to respond, let’s learn just what a cultural diversity essay is. 

Simply put, these types of college essay topics ask students to elaborate on their relationship with cultural diversity. Namely, they look for how it has shaped the student’s own identity. Like all good college essay topics, the cultural diversity essay invites students to share an important part of themselves with admissions.

What makes a great college essay on cultural diversity? Well, essays will vary greatly depending on each individual. Students could talk about their background, culture, beliefs, skills, experience, or perspectives. Culture can mean many things, meaning that college essay ideas for this prompt are nearly endless.

Exact college essay topics aren’t as important as showing how the matter at hand has shaped you. Additionally, tactfully executed college essay ideas will show how your unique story and experiences will improve that school’s college campus. Specifically, touching on how you’ll bring your perspective, experiences, and culture to campus is always a good strategy. 

To better understand this topic, let’s look at some examples of cultural diversity essay prompts.

Cultural Diversity Essay Prompts

Like many other schools, Amherst College requires applicants to respond to additional Amherst supplemental essays. The Amherst supplemental essays are certainly looking for a cultural diversity essay: 

Amherst Cultural Diversity Essay Prompts

Respond to  one  of the following quotations in an essay of not more than 300 words. it is not necessary to research, read, or refer to the texts from which these quotations are taken; we are looking for original, personal responses to these short excerpts. remember that your essay should be personal in nature and not simply an argumentative essay., “rigorous reasoning is crucial in mathematics, and insight plays an important secondary role these days. in the natural sciences, i would say that the order of these two virtues is reversed. rigor is, of course, very important. but the most important value is insight—insight into the workings of the world. it may be because there is another guarantor of correctness in the sciences, namely, the empirical evidence from observation and experiments.”  kannan jagannathan, professor of physics, amherst college, “translation is the art of bridging cultures. it’s about interpreting the essence of a text, transporting its rhythms and becoming intimate with its meaning… translation, however, doesn’t only occur across languages: mentally putting any idea into words is an act of translation; so is composing a symphony, doing business in the global market, understanding the roots of terrorism. no citizen, especially today, can exist in isolation—that is, untranslated.”  ilán stavans, professor of latin american and latino culture, amherst college, robert croll ’16 and cedric duquene ’15, adapted from the print version of “interpreting terras irradient,” amherst magazine, spring 2015.  , “creating an environment that allows students to build lasting friendships, including those that cut across seemingly entrenched societal and political boundaries…requires candor about the inevitable tensions, as well as about the wonderful opportunities, that diversity and inclusiveness create.” carolyn “biddy” martin, 19th president of amherst college, from letter to amherst college alumni and families, december 28, 2015. , “difficulty need not foreshadow despair or defeat. rather, achievement can be all the more satisfying because of obstacles surmounted.”  attributed to william hastie, amherst college class of 1925, the first african-american to serve as a judge for the united states court of appeals, understanding the amherst essay prompts.

Amherst’s option doesn’t explicitly ask for your experiences. Rather, they want to see how you respond and relate to different perspectives.

Let’s look at another example. In addition to the Common App personal statement, students applying to Harvard are allowed to submit an additional “optional” essay. When responding to any school’s essays, especially an Ivy League , do some digging to see if admissions offers any tips. Check out Harvard’s blog on how to write a great essay. Here is Harvard’s prompt that is very obviously a cultural diversity essay topic:

Harvard Cultural Diversity Essay Prompt

Harvard has long recognized the importance of student body diversity of all kinds. we welcome you to write about distinctive aspects of your background, personal development or the intellectual interests you might bring to your harvard classmates..

Finally, let’s look at the University of Michigan’s prompt: 

University of Michigan Cultural Diversity Essay Prompt

Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. (required for all applicants; minimum 100 words/maximum 300 words).

Specifically, this UMich essay prompt talks about community, which makes up a part of your background and culture. Since “community” encompasses many different aspects, students have lots of room to play with their responses. 

How do you write a college essay on diversity?

Before understanding how to write the college diversity essay, students should consider why they’re popular college essay topics for admissions . Simply put, universities want to have a diverse student body. This enhances campus life by creating constant cross-cultural understanding. Additionally, each student’s unique background, experiences, and perspective shape the school’s community greatly. That’s why these prompts are found everywhere, from Amherst to NYU supplemental essays.

So, how to tackle the cultural diversity essay? First, students need to speak from their own experiences. You should be at the forefront of your essay—not someone else. This essay is all about showing what diversity means to you and how it impacts your own identity. What background or experience do you have that is unique and meaningful to you?

College essay ideas will vary greatly among students. And that’s the point! There’s no cookie-cutter college application essay format to follow. What you talk about within your background and experiences can be any number of things. Ultimately, writing passionately and cohesively, clearly conveying how diversity has shaped you, and how you’ll bring that perspective to campus are key. You should authentically and comprehensively answer the prompt in order to write an essay that stands out . 

Check out our cultural diversity essay guide for more in-depth college essay tips!

Extracurricular Activities Essay

college essay topics

Another favorite among college essay topics is the extracurricular activities essay. Needless to say, this supplemental essay allows students to expand on one of their extracurricular activities . Since the Common App activities section is limited, this is a great chance to provide more context for your experiences.

In general, when writing an extracurricular activities essay, you shouldn’t simply list achievements from your college resume . Feel free to get creative by sharing an anecdote or expanding on what the activity means to you. Has it shaped your identity or your future goals? How have you grown from partaking in this activity? Expand on the deeper meaning to you in order to write the best extracurricular activities essay. 

Now, let’s check out some extracurricular activities essay prompts. 

Sample Extracurricular Activities Essay Prompts

Interestingly, Vanderbilt offers students two college essay topics for students to choose to respond to in 250 words. The first is a diversity essay. The following is their extracurricular activities prompt: 

Vanderbilt Extracurricular Activities Essay Prompt

Vanderbilt offers a community where students find balance between their academic and social experiences. please briefly elaborate on how one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences has influenced you..

Check out our guide with ample Vanderbilt essay examples before writing this school’s essays.

The Princeton supplemental essays also include a similar extracurricular activity prompt. However, for these types of Princeton supplemental essays, students only have 150 words with which to respond:

Princeton Extracurricular Activity Prompt

Briefly elaborate on an activity, organization work experience, or hobby that has been particularly meaningful to you. .

Finally, let’s see the Stanford extracurricular activities essay prompt. You’ll notice it follows the same general trend as the others.

Stanford Extracurricular Activity Essay Prompt

The stanford community is deeply curious and driven to learn in and out of the classroom. reflect on an idea or experience that makes you genuinely excited about learning..

Before working on your own college essay ideas, check out some Stanford essay examples to see what’s worked in the past. 

Unique College Essay Topics

college essay topics

During the college application process, you’re likely to come across many similar college essay topics and prompts. However, some universities keep things interesting with good college essay topics that are sure to keep applicants on their toes. These college essay topics ask students unexpected questions and even err on the side of quirky. They’re quite different from the personal statement . 

Basically, these non-traditional college essay topics are a wonderful opportunity to let your creative side shine with one-of-a-kind responses. But, keep in mind that although these aren’t traditional college essay topics, every college admission essay has the same goal. You should share more about yourself with admissions, and show them just why you’d be a great addition to their university. 

Let’s read some prompts that fall into this category.

Unique College Essay Prompts

UChicago is one school known for their unique college essay topics. Certainly, they have one supplemental essay prompt that’s required and similar to more traditional college essay topics. At the same time, their options for the second of the short essays don’t disappoint. 

Here are the UChicago prompts for the second of their college essay topics: 

UChicago Unique College Essay Prompts

Essay option 1, exponents and square roots, pencils and erasers, beta decay and electron capture. name two things that undo each other and explain why both are necessary. – inspired by emmett cho, class of 2027, essay option 2, “where have all the flowers gone” – pete seeger. pick a question from a song title or lyric and give it your best answer. – inspired by ryan murphy, ab’21, essay option 3, “vlog,” “labradoodle,” and “fauxmage.” language is filled with portmanteaus. create a new portmanteau and explain why those two things are a “patch” (perfect match). – inspired by garrett chalfin, class of 2027, essay option 4, a jellyfish is not a fish. cat burglars don’t burgle cats. rhode island is not an island. write an essay about some other misnomer, and either come up with and defend a new name for it or explain why its inaccurate name should be kept. – inspired by sonia chang, class of 2025, and mirabella blair, class of 2027, essay option 5, despite their origins in the gupta empire of india or ancient egypt, games like chess or bowling remain widely enjoyed today. what modern game do you believe will withstand the test of time, and why – inspired by adam heiba, class of 2027, essay option 6, there are unwritten rules that everyone follows or has heard at least once in their life. but of course, some rules should be broken or updated. what is an unwritten rule that you wish didn’t exist (our custom is to have five new prompts each year, but this year we decided to break with tradition. enjoy) – inspired by maryam abdella, class of 2026, essay option 7, and, as always… the classic choose your own adventure option in the spirit of adventurous inquiry, choose one of our past prompts (or create a question of your own). be original, creative, thought provoking. draw on your best qualities as a writer, thinker, visionary, social critic, sage, citizen of the world, or future citizen of the university of chicago; take a little risk, and have fun, dartmouth college essay prompts.

Another elite university with some good college essay topics is Dartmouth . While the two required essays are standard college essay topics, the third essay has a variety of unique prompts to choose from. Let’s take a look at their prompts, which have a 200-250 word limit.

Dartmouth Unique College Essay Prompts

A. labor leader and civil rights activist dolores huerta recommended a life of purpose. “we must use our lives to make the world a better place to live, not just to acquire things,” she said. “that is what we are put on the earth for.” in what ways do you hope to make—or are you making—an impact, b. what excites you, c. in the boy who harnessed the wind, william kamkwamba ’14 reflects on constructing a windmill from recycled materials to power electrical appliances in his family’s malawian house: “if you want to make it, all you have to do is try.” what drives you to create and what do you hope to make or have you made, d. dr. seuss, aka theodor geisel of dartmouth’s class of 1925, wrote, “think and wonder. wonder and think.” what do you wonder and think about, e. “not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced,” wrote james baldwin. how does this quote apply to your life experiences, how do you write a unique college essay.

college essay topics

At this point, you may have many college essay ideas for these topics. However, keep in mind that these types of supplemental essays should still be answered personally and authentically—just like your personal statement. Especially with creative and unique prompts, it may be tempting to go in a totally different direction when writing. Nevertheless, don’t forget that good college essay topics aim to learn more about the applicant, even if they are unconventional. 

Additionally, the goal of these unique college essay topics is to see that you don’t back down from a challenge. Universities want curious learners who are willing to step out of their comfort zone. So, even if these aren’t your favorite types of college essay topics, persevere in writing something new. They’re an opportunity to indirectly show admissions how you think. Ideally, you’ll want to show your intellectual curiosity and values. However, this can be done indirectly.

More tips on unique college essay topics

Check out these UChicago essay examples in order to see how students successfully responded to these unique college essay topics. If you’re wondering how to start a college essay, reading successful college essay ideas is a good way to begin. Use them as inspiration to spur your own college essay ideas. 

From NYU supplemental essays to personal challenge essays or even a “why major” essay, remember the goal. Tell admissions more about you and what you’ll bring to campus. Additionally, your successful essays will make it clear that you’re a good fit for the school—even if not explicitly stated.

Short Essay Topics

college essay topics

While supplemental essays usually don’t have high word counts, there are certain college essay topics that are considered short essays. Short essays, when it comes to college essay topics, are those that are less than 100 words. They are much shorter than personal statement examples . Those of you who aren’t fans of writing might rejoice at the news. However, it can often be more difficult to write a meaningful short essay. 

Let’s take a look at some short essay topics from different universities. To start, here are the Columbia supplemental essays. These Columbia supplemental essays are considered short essay prompts. 

Columbia Short Essay Prompts

1. list the titles of the books, essays, poetry, short stories or plays you read outside of academic courses that you enjoyed most during secondary/high school. (75 words or fewer), 2. in columbia’s admissions process, we value who you are as a unique individual, distinct from your goals and achievements. in the last words of this writing supplement, we would like you to reflect on a source of happiness. help us get to know you further by describing the first thing that comes to mind when you consider what simply brings you joy. (35 words or fewer).

The sheer number (10!) of short essays that USC requires may intimidate many. However, these USC supplemental essays are super short with a 25–100 word limit. Check out our guide with examples of USC supplemental essays. Here are the USC short answer essay prompts:

USC Short Essay Topics

Describe yourself in three words., what is your favorite snack, best movie of all time: , if your life had a theme song, what would it be, dream trip: , what tv show will you binge watch next, which well-known person or fictional character would be your ideal roommate, favorite book:, if you could teach a class on any topic, what would it be.

Stanford has a 100–250 word limit on their short essays. Let’s take a look at the prompts: 

Stanford Short Essay Topics

Virtually all of stanford’s undergraduates live on campus. write a note to your future roommate that reveals something about you or that will help your roommate—and us—get to know you better., tell us about something that is meaningful to you and why..

You may have noticed that many of these short college essay topics were “lists” while others were simply short essays. Now, let’s think about how to respond to them. 

Approaching short essays

While it may seem like these college essay topics are very different from others, the approach is the same. Your responses should highlight what makes you the person you are. The only trick is to do it in a much shorter word count than other college essay topics. 

So, make the most of every word! This part may seem tedious, but you must choose your words carefully to craft the most impactful short essay response. With lots of polish, these types of short essay topics can add dimension to the rest of your application. What you decide to write about should tell the admissions team more about you, your interests, and your values. 

Choosing the best college essay topics

Of course, each college will have different essay prompts. For example, the NYU supplemental essays are very different from the  UChicago essays or the Columbia supplemental essays. Even so, good college essay topics are the ones that you can write the most passionately about. However, your college essay ideas must ultimately share more about you and why you belong on that university’s campus. 

When it comes to choosing good college essay topics, carefully read all the prompts. Is there one that jumps out to you? If so, that’s the best choice for you! If you’re considering various prompts, do a short brainstorming exercise for each prompt. Whichever prompt evokes the most meaningful experience that is an authentic representation of you should be your topic. 

Here is more advice from a student at Harvard on writing your best college essays as well:

What makes a great college essay? Most importantly, across college essay topics, your essays need to be personal, specific, and honest. Excepting short essay topics that ask for a list, normally your essays shouldn’t simply list accomplishments or experiences. Follow the classic writing adage when planning and writing out your best college essay ideas: show don’t tell. Consider anecdotes that highlight who you are. Use those stories as a foundation to craft your essays.

What should you not write in a college essay?

When it comes to good college essay topics, the sky is certainly the limit. And, since essays are so personal, good college essay topics will usually be quite varied. However, there are certain college essay ideas that you should stay away from.

college essay topics

Here are 5 college essay topics to stay away from: 

1. generic topics.

For example, admissions experts note that writing about sports injuries usually doesn’t go over well. Additionally, some sort of “big game” essay usually doesn’t land in quite the way students might imagine either. There is usually too much time spent on the game rather than on a student’s personal growth. But most often, sports-related obstacles tend to center around clichés (never giving up, the happiness of winning, the sadness of losing, team camaraderie, etc.). Predictable essays won’t make the biggest impact on admissions.  

2. Dramatic life events

For some students, this will work. However, don’t try to create some grandiose event in order to write a jaw-dropping essay. In fact, some of the best college essay ideas come from everyday experiences that shape the writer. That is to say, essays should highlight not simply what happened to you, but your responses to those experiences. With that said, if you can convey personal growth and positive change through a difficult life event, go for it.

3. Highly personal topics

This relates to the previous point. Indeed, most good college essay topics are pretty personal. However, there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed. For example, overly personal stories about mental health should generally be avoided, especially unprocessed trauma. While admissions can’t discriminate against you based on these topics, it’s usually a hard topic from which to craft a successful essay. Of course, we’re sure it’s been done. But, your best bet is to choose one of the many other good college essay topics that you’re sure to have.

4. Anything related to alcohol, drugs, or illegal behavior

This may seem blatantly obvious but certainly don’t talk about wild parties with illegal activities (and certainly don’t partake!). You should refrain from talking about your personal experiences with these themes in your college essays. However, if you are close with someone affected by these, that could be a plausible essay topic—but write carefully. Again, it’s probably safest just to take these topics out of the running.

5. High school gossip

This topic is going to make it hard for you to shine. Avoid any type of topics that relate to high school gossip. College admissions officers won’t be impressed, and it will be hard to come off as anything other than immature and superficial. Remember that your college essay will show what you are going to bring to campus. Certainly, admissions officers don’t want to bring this type of culture to their campuses. 

How to write your best college admission essays

college essay topics

Writing college essays is a huge part of the college application process. Of course, most admissions teams use a holistic review process, considering everything from GPA to extracurriculars to essays. Even so, essays are truly of utmost importance, as they are your personal account of your personality and life story. However, rather than stress about college essay ideas, look at it as an opportunity to share more about yourself. 

Here are 5 college essay tips for writing your best college admission essays: 

1. carefully choose your prompt.

You’ll be hard-pressed to write passionately about a topic that doesn’t genuinely excite you. So, carefully consider the prompts you’re given before drafting your essay. Choose the one that most calls to you. 

2. Tell your story

Good college essay topics will tell a story that would tell a total stranger more about you, your values, passions, and experiences. Get creative when it comes to telling a story in your essays. Hook the reader from the start and impress with your writing abilities. 

3. Answer the prompt

Anecdotes are great for writing personal, unique, and meaningful college essays. However, they absolutely need to be pertinent to the prompt at hand. Make sure that you comprehensively respond to the prompt. 

4. Start early

A lot of the stress that comes with college essays has to do with rapidly approaching deadlines. Be sure to give yourself ample time to complete your essays. You’ll need time to brainstorm, draft, revise, and edit. That’s in addition to completing the rest of the application! Ideally, start the summer before your senior year. 

5. Pay attention to grammar and mechanics

Being creative and telling a meaningful story is important when it comes to college essays. However, don’t forget that your grammar should be impeccable. Be sure to thoroughly revise and edit your essays. And, have someone else take a look at them too! An extra pair of eyes can help greatly when it comes to fine-tuning and perfecting your essay in its last stages. 

College Essay Topics Takeaways

In this guide, we’ve looked at many different college essay topics such as the personal statement, unique essays, short essays, and more. We also discussed how to structure the best college application essay format for different prompts. 

In order to craft the best college essay ideas and the best college admission essays, you should read many college essay examples. Studying college essay examples can help you when considering how to start a college essay. Remember you shouldn’t try to copy the stories from these college essay examples. Rather, use them as inspiration to tell your own story.

Are you sharing the impact of your gap year , explaining how you chose your major , or writing a why this college essay ? Whatever you’re talking about, reading successful essays will help you learn how to write better essays. And if you can write better than other applicants, then you’re sure to impress admissions.

At the end of the day, remember that there is no definitive college application essay format. Of course, there are certain things that most successful essays do. However, don’t get stuck on nailing one specific college application essay format. Rather, focus on self-reflection and personal growth when choosing your topics and which anecdotes to include. And, if you need some help along the way, CollegeAdvisor Admissions Experts are here to guide you in writing your best college essays!

college essay topics

This article was written by Sarah Kaminski and advisor, Alex Baggott-Rowe . Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.

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By submitting my email address. i certify that i am 13 years of age or older, agree to recieve marketing email messages from the princeton review, and agree to terms of use., popular college application essay topics (and how to answer them).

Get help writing your college application essays. Find this year's Common App writing prompts and popular essay questions used by individual colleges.

The college essay is your opportunity to show admissions officers who you are apart from your grades and test scores (and to distinguish yourself from the rest of a very talented applicant pool).

brainstorming college application essay topics

2023–24 Common App Essays

Nearly 700 colleges accept the The Common Application , which makes it easy to apply to multiple schools with just one form. If you are using the Common App to apply for college admissions, you will have 250–650 words to respond to ONE of the following prompts:

  • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  • Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  • Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

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Read More: Get Expert Essay Advice From Former Admissions Officers!

Tackling the Common App Essay Prompts

Prompt #1: share your story..

Answer this prompt by reflecting on a hobby, facet of your personality, or experience that is genuinely meaningful and unique to you. Admissions officers want to feel connected to you and an honest, personal statement about who you are draws them in. Your love of superheroes, baking chops, or family history are all fair game if you can tie it back to who you are or what you believe in. Avoid a rehash of the accomplishments on your high school résumé and choose something that the admissions committee will not discover when reading the rest of your application.

Prompt #2: Learning from obstacles.

You're trying to show colleges your best self, so it might seem counterintuitive to willingly acknowledge a time you struggled. But overcoming challenges demonstrates courage, grit, and perseverance! That’s why the last piece of this prompt is essential. The obstacle you write about can be large or small, but you must show the admissions committee how your perspective changed as a result.

Perfect your college essay video

Prompt #3: Challenging a belief.

Your answer to this question could focus on a time you stood up to others or an experience when your own preconceived view was challenged. Choose this prompt if you have a relevant—and specific!—experience to recount (and reflect on). A vague essay about a hot button issue doesn’t tell the admissions committee anything useful about YOU.

Prompt #4: Reflecting on gratitude.

Colleges are looking for students with unique experiences that can enhance their future campus community, and this is your chance to share that by recognizing what someone else has done for you. Even though this prompt requires you to reflect on the action of another person, make sure that the focus remains on how the act of kindness impacted you and the way you live your life. This essay should make you and the reader smile.

Prompt #5: Personal growth.

Just like Prompt #2, the accomplishment or event you write about can be anything from a major milestone to a smaller "aha" moment. Describe the event or accomplishment that shaped you but take care to also show what you learned or how you changed. Colleges are looking for a sense of maturity and introspection—pinpoint the transformation and demonstrate your personal growth. 

Prompt #6: What captivates you?

This prompt is an invitation to write about something you care about. (So avoid the pitfall of writing about what you think will impress the admission office versus what truly matters to you). Colleges are looking for curious students, who are thoughtful about the world around them. The "what or who do you turn to when you want to learn more” bit isn't an afterthought—it's a key piece of the prompt. Make sure you explain how you pursue your interest, as well.

Read More: QUIZ: Test Your College Knowledge!

Prompt #7: Topic of your choice.

This question might be for you if you have a dynamo personal essay from English class to share or were really inspired by a question from another college’s application. You can even write your own question! Whatever topic you land on, the essentials of a standout college essay still stand: 1.) Show the admissions committee who you are beyond grades and test scores and 2.) Dig into your topic by asking yourself how and why. There isn’t a prompt to guide you, so you must ask yourself the questions that will get at the heart of the story you want to tell.

More College Essay Topics

Individual schools sometimes require supplemental essays. Here are a few popular application essay topics and some tips for how to approach them:

Describe a person you admire.

Avoid the urge to pen an ode to a beloved figure like Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln. The admissions committee doesn't need to be convinced they are influential people. Focus on yourself: Choose someone who has actually caused you to change your behavior or your worldview, and write about how this person influenced you .

Why do you want to attend this school?

Be honest and specific when you respond to this question. Avoid generalities like "to get a good liberal arts education” or “to develop career skills," and use details that show your interests: "I'm an aspiring doctor and your science department has a terrific reputation." Colleges are more likely to admit students who can articulate specific reasons why the school is a good fit for them beyond its reputation or ranking on any list. Use the college's website and literature to do your research about programs, professors, and other opportunities that appeal to you.

Read More: 5 Ways College Application Essays and High School Essays Are Different

What is a book you love?

Your answer should not be a book report. Don't just summarize the plot; detail why you enjoyed this particular text and what it meant to you. What does your favorite book reveal about you? How do you identify with it, and how has it become personal to you?

Again, be honest in answering this question—don't choose a classic from your literature class or a piece of philosophy just because you think it will make you seem smarter. Writing fluently and passionately about a book close to you is always better than writing shakily or generally about a book that doesn't inspire you.

What is an extracurricular activity that has been meaningful to you?

Avoid slipping into clichés or generalities. Take this opportunity to really examine an experience that taught you something you didn't previously know about yourself, got you out of your comfort zone, or forced you to grow. Sometimes it's better to write about something that was hard for you because you learned something than it is to write about something that was easy for you because you think it sounds admirable. As with all essay questions, the most important thing is to tell a great story: how you discovered this activity, what drew you to it, and what it's shown you about yourself.

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Admissions Officers Discuss 3 Common Essay Topics

A college essay topic doesn't have to be unique to be a good choice for applicants, experts say.

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Admissions officers look at much more than the topic students select when assessing college essays.

Grades and test scores may measure a student's academic potential, but those factors fail to capture his or her personality. That's where the college essay comes in. The college essay offers students the chance to tell their own story to admissions officials.

How important is the college essay? It ranked as the fifth most important factor in the admissions process in a 2019 National Association for College Admission Counseling survey. The essay followed other factors: high school GPA , grades in college prep courses, strength of curriculum at a student's high school, and SAT and ACT scores.

High school students may worry about not having an original topic for their college essay – that anything they write about will be something admissions officers have read countless times before.

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But admissions deans and directors from several colleges told U.S. News that it's OK if applicants write about a common subject.

"Overuse of a topic doesn't make it a bad topic," says Whitney Soule, senior vice president and dean of admissions and student aid at Bowdoin College in Maine.

How common an essay topic is matters less than a student's ability to express something significant about himself or herself.

"It's not just about the topic, but why it's important to you and how you can showcase who you are as a student and an individual through that topic," says Jennifer Gayles, director of admission and coordinator of multicultural recruitment at Sarah Lawrence College in New York.

Here are three examples of common college application essay topics that admissions officials say are fine for students to write about as long as they do so thoughtfully.

The Big Game Essay

Many high school students play sports, so it's understandable that athletics comes up fairly often in college essays.

One potential pitfall of a sports-focused essay is that students spend too much time describing what happened in the game, meet or competition and not enough time on how it affected them personally, some experts say.

Laura Stratton, director of admission at Scripps College in California, says she remembers reading a well-written sports essay in which the author wrote about being benched. The student was a senior and had played throughout the season, but she found herself on the sideline during the final game.

"The self-awareness the student showed of being a good team member and showing up for her teammates and continuing to be positive even though it wasn't the personal experience that she wanted to have, it said a lot about her character and about the type of roommate she would be or classmate she would be," Stratton says, "and that landed really well with the readers."

It's also fairly common for students to write about a sports-related injury in response to a college essay prompt about overcoming a challenge or failure, says Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions at Duke University in North Carolina. One of the 2019-2020 essay prompts for The Common Application – an application platform that allows students to submit their materials, including the essay, to multiple colleges at once – focuses on overcoming obstacles, according to the platform's website.

"If that's what has really mattered to the student, if that's something that has generated a lot of thought on their part, then I think it's a great essay topic," Guttentag says.

Essays That Focus on Service-Based Activities

College essays about service to others, either at home or abroad, can be moving to read but difficult to effectively write, given the short amount of space students are allotted for a college essay, some experts say. The Common App essay is limited to 650 words, for example.

"The idea of other people who are less advantaged being used as the vehicle for someone's increased self-awareness is how that can come across sometimes," Guttentag says, "and I think that can be difficult to pull off."

A student's motivation for choosing this topic also matters. If applicants decide to write about service, they should do so because their experience has led to thought and reflection, not because they feel like this is a topic admissions officers expect them to write about, Guttentag says.

Essays That Focus on a Meaningful Relationship

Students don't have to write about a major turning point in their essay, Soule says. They can instead reflect on something from their day-to-day life that they find meaningful. For some students, this may mean writing about a relationship with a parent, grandparent or other key figure in their life.

"I think that those can be great essays if the student is keeping top of mind that at the end of the essay we should know something about them as a person and how that relationship has affected and shaped them," Stratton says, "not just the great things about their grandma."

For example, Soule says she remembers a strong essay in which a student wrote about being a sibling. The student talked about what his relationship with his younger brother was like at different points throughout his life.

There wasn't any big, dramatic moment that the story hinged on, Soule says. The essay just reflected on how the student and his brother had grown up and evolved in relation to one another.

"That was really personal," Soule says, "and it also demonstrated a person who could see himself in relationship to other people, which is a hugely important quality, particularly when we're building a community of people who are going to be living together and learning together."

While students may ask themselves, "How important are college essays?" the answer is simple: important enough for college admissions that they should invest the time and effort to do their best and make the topic their own – even if it's common.

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Best college essay topics for 2023-2024

The best college essay topics for 2023-2024.

Bonus Material: To check out 30 real examples of essays that worked to get students into schools like Princeton, click the link: Download 30 College Essays That Worked

If you’re getting started on your college application essays, you’re probably looking around for the perfect topic to write about. What isn’t cliche? What will make you stand out? What will get you into your dream school?

PrepMaven’s college essay coaches have helped countless students choose their topics and craft compelling personal statements for the college application process. While we love making our resources freely available on this blog, we always recommend getting personalized help from one of our essay experts . 

In this guide, we break down what you need to know about choosing a college essay topic, and we’ll also cover some topics that you might want to consider–and some you’ll likely want to avoid. 

Download 30 College Essays That Worked

Jump to section: What makes a good college essay topic? So, what kinds of topics work best for college essays? Essay topics to avoid Next steps

What makes a good college essay topic?

While it’s true that a really good writer can write a great essay about anything, it definitely helps to have an interesting and unique topic for college admissions essays. 

College admissions officers will read essays from thousands of other applicants. That means even if you write an incredible essay about a cliche topic, you’re going to risk losing the admissions committee’s attention before you can win them over with your great writing. 

So, how do you decide what makes a good college essay topic? While there’s no objective set of rules, there are guidelines that are backed up by years of experience working with all sorts of student essays. 

Below, check out our list of 7 Qualities of a Great College Essay Topic. 

The best college essay topics should: 

most common college essay topic

  • This is always tricky. You don’t have to be a child prodigy to have something interesting to write about. What we really mean here is you should avoid an essay topic if you think it’s likely lots of other people have written about it in the same way. 
  • Remember: the point of this essay is to show how you’ve become the kind of mature, self-aware person who’s ready for college. The specific story you tell only matters insofar as it lets you show the admissions committee how you became that person. 
  • Colleges want students who are passionate! Whatever you write about, it should be something that presents you to college admission officers as someone with interests, passions, and goals. 
  • Don’t overlook this! If you pick a topic just because it seems like what you should write about, odds are you’ll be bored by it. And if you’re bored by it, how could someone else find it interesting?

most common college essay topic

  • People often forget about this, but there’s a reason college essays are also often called “personal essays” or “personal statements.” These essays aren’t meant to prove that you’re smart, or that you’re qualified for a particular job. They’re about what kind of person you are, how you view the world, and what kind of member you’d be of the college community. 
  • There are exceptions to this, but you should generally refrain from writing about something that happened in the distant past. The simple reason for that is that college admissions officers want to see who you are now , and most things that happened in early childhood won’t really help them do that. 
  • Naturally, you want to come off well! But students often try too hard to impress, listing their accomplishments or rattling off resume points. Remember that the colleges already have all that info–putting it in your essay will make it seem like you’re a little bit too obsessed with what you’ve already done. 

For our guide on how to brainstorm the best topic for you, check out our post on the Diamond Strategy here. 

So, what kinds of topics work best for college essays?

Because you’re unique, your best college application essay topic likely will be too. We’re not going to list out all the topics of the best essays we’ve seen, precisely because these topics are specific to the people who wrote about them. If you haven’t had to, say, renovate a home by yourself or invent a machine with your father, it won’t help you much to hear that other people wrote great essays on those topics. 

But there are certain kinds of topics that lend themselves much better to strong essays. Here, we’ll list a few of those, though of course you might come up with something totally different for yourself. 

So, what kinds of topics usually work best?

  • This can be a number of things. Many great essays have been written about the experiences of growing up a member of a marginalized or minority community. Others have been written about students’ familial or religious backgrounds. The key in either case: show how experiences linked to this identity have helped you understand some aspect of the world. 

most common college essay topic

  • Do you fly planes recreationally? Spend hours each week creating sculptures? Do research in a particular field? Anything of this sort makes for a great essay topic: it’s unusual and lets you explore how this activity helped shape who you are. 
  • Experiences with discrimination, financial difficulties, and even some family problems can be really effective topics. The key: these must be serious problems that were not caused by you, and that you have made some progress in overcoming. Avoid anything that may pose a red flag for admissions committees. 
  • Note: there are lots of obstacles you shouldn’t write about We’ll include a list of these in the section on Internal Link to “Essay topics to avoid” 
  • That’s a bit general, but it has to be, since this looks so different for everyone. But if there was an experience that truly, profoundly changed you for the better, it’s likely to be a great topic (so long as it isn’t in our list of Topics to avoid below). 

Below, we’ve linked a free collection of 30 college essays that worked to get students into schools like Princeton. Read through those, and note how the topics chosen by the students relate to the broad categories we’ve outlined above. 

Essay topics to avoid

While there’s likely a way to write about almost anything successfully, there are some topics that–generally–aren’t worth the risk. 

What makes a topic risky?

Well, think about it this way: your college admissions application is really an attempt to convince a room full of adults that you’ll not only be a good community member and student, but also that you won’t cause problems for the university. Problems can include anything from being someone who ignores rules to being someone who drops out or takes time off from school (remember that universities are always trying to keep their 4-year graduation rates high). 

But something else that can make a college essay topic risky is just that it’s boring! If you write about something cliche or typical, it’ll be much, much harder for you to say something original or interesting about it. And if you can’t say anything original or interesting, then your college admissions essay won’t help you get into that school.

With that in mind, here’s a list of college essay topics that should almost always be avoided :

most common college essay topic

  • We know: this is a real bummer for any student athlete who’s really poured their heart into their game. But the reality of it is this: successful essays on sports are extremely rare . It’s just too hard to say anything original about something that so many people have written about. 
  • Another topic to avoid almost always. Why? While the attitudes around this are changing somewhat, revealing a mental health issue will raise a red flag for many admissions officers, who may view it as a risk to your ability to navigate college life. 
  • What we mean by this is any type of essay that recounts an experience you had with a less fortunate group of people–people in poorer countries or communities, people with disabilities, the homeless, etc.–just to say that seeing their struggles helped you understand “how lucky you are.” 
  • Exception: if you’ve actually done specific work in this kind of community and that has shaped how you view your future goals, your academic pursuits, or social issues, that’s different. The key is: did you actually do something meaningful to help this group, and/or will you continue to do so?
  • While heartbreak and fights with friends are a normal and often important part of life, they don’t make good college admissions essays. Not only will it come off as immature, but it’s also the kind of topic that’s cliche and boring. 
  • It might seem clever at first, but writing the essay about how you’re writing the college essay, or directly addressing the admissions committee, or writing about how you don’t want to address one of the prompts–all of these have been done before, and are now almost guaranteed to annoy admissions committees. 

most common college essay topic

  • Don’t write an angry essay, period. Did a coach unfairly ruin your chances of playing on the team? Did a teacher arbitrarily deduct points because he hated you? That’s a shame, but leave it out of your essay. 

While all the above are controversial topics you’re better off avoiding, some of them can be made to work with the right kind of essay. But the risks are high, and it’ll be much tougher to write a successful college essay on one of these topics. 

Though everyone would benefit from working with an essay expert, if you’re considering writing on a topic you think might be risky, you would especially benefit by getting a second opinion from a writing expert who’s helped many other students craft compelling essays. 

In the meantime, check out our collection of 30 successful college application essays and note what kinds of topics those students focused on as you prepare to write your own. 

After you review the sample essays we’ve provided here, start thinking about what personal experiences from your own life might work as a topic for your college application essay. 

As you get started with the college admissions process, check out our other linked posts below, which cover everything from brainstorming to proofreading!

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  • 9 Ways to (Quickly) Improve Your College Essay

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11 Cliché College Essay Topics + How to Fix Them

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5 Awesome College Essay Topics→

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What makes a good college essay? It’s a question many high school seniors ask while going through the application process. A winning college essay engages admissions officers and shares with them the student’s identity and personality, painting a picture that goes beyond grades and test scores—compelling the reader to become an advocate for the student’s admission. 

The Four Core Questions are at the heart of college essays and answering them is critical. Those questions are: 

  • Why am I here?
  • What is unique about me?
  • What matters to me? 

By answering these questions, a student is able to share information that is otherwise hard to ascertain with admissions officials—things like personality traits, personal journey, interests, skills, and ambitions. A well-conceived and well-written essay is a way for students to separate themselves from other applicants; conversely, an ineffective essay does nothing to distinguish a student, which is why it’s so important to avoid writing a cliché college essay. 

Cliché College Essay Topics to Avoid + How to Fix Them

1. résumé of your life and achievements.

Résumés are an effective method to demonstrate achievements, but they’re boring to read. This is why, in the professional world, résumés are often accompanied by a cover letter. A college application is essentially a student’s résumé—it contains their grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities—which makes an essay listing achievements redundant. 

A better strategy is for students to pick one experience that stands above the rest and write about how it shaped the person they are today. This is especially effective for any experiences that would benefit from further explanation, or those that have an interesting backstory. For example, maybe you participate in a unique extracurricular that most people aren’t familiar with, such as being on a Chinese yoyo/diabolo team. You might choose to focus on that aspect of your identity and what it means to you. Or, maybe you love math, but never had the chance to explain on your application that you used to hate math, until a tutor showed you a different way to appreciate it (and that’s one of the reasons you want to become a math teacher). This would be another strong topic.

You don’t necessarily have to focus on one specific event, but your essay should be cohesive. Another traditional essay structure is telling a narrative over an extended period of time. This structure incorporates a handful of different experiences that are joined by a common thread. If you have a story of growth, change, or development, this is the classic essay structure for you. An example of this might be a football player who was embarrassed to admit he liked writing and poetry, but how he eventually became a published author, and came to accept and own his identity as a poet.

2. Sports injury, challenge, or success

Coaches on every level are known for telling their athletes about how the lessons learned on the field/court/ice translate to life. Unfortunately, these lessons and stories have been told in numerous movies and books, along with countless college essays

To successfully write a college essay about sports, it’s important to steer clear of the common themes.

  • Overcoming adversity
  • Trusting teammates
  • Refusing to quit
  • The thrill of victory
  • The agony of defeat

For example, instead of an applicant talking about how their team trained and improved to beat their rivals or win a championship, they should write about a unique way that sports shaped who they are. For example, here’s an unexpected way to write about a sports injury: maybe tearing your ACL in a soccer game actually led you to start a podcast while you were recovering, which became one of your biggest passions. 

Along a similar line, a student could write about discovering their motivation for playing sports.  Maybe they always played basketball because they were good, or their parents expected them to play, but they realized they didn’t enjoy the competitive nature of the sport and wanted to gravitate toward less competitive activities like hiking or surfing. 

3. Immigrant story

The U.S. is a nation of immigrants and while not every student has an immigrant story, a lot of them do. Consequently, these immigrant themes are ones that every admissions officer has read before:

  • Learning a new language
  • Adapting to new customs
  • Adjusting to a new lifestyle
  • Struggling to fit in

Asian students, in particular, should avoid immigrant-themed essays, as they have a harder time getting into college due to demographics, and this topic only calls attention to their background. 

To make an immigration essay work (and avoid being another cliché college essay), a student needs to make it extremely unique or incredibly personal. One tactic is to write about a singular experience—moments of conflict are always an interesting topic. For example, a student might write about a time they were made to feel unwelcome in the U.S. and how they responded to that moment, such as volunteering at the community cultural center or creating a welcoming committee for new immigrants. 

Another essay opportunity is to write about an experience that is truly unique. Perhaps, when a student first came to the U.S., they didn’t have access to a vehicle or public transportation and needed to walk to school or their job. That student could use their college essay to focus on what they learned on their walks and the ambitions it sparked—such as tenacity to succeed against all odds, or a desire to found a program for immigrants in a similar position.  

4. Tragedy – death, divorce, abuse

Tragedies are formative experiences, which in theory make them a natural theme for a college essay; however, tragedies are often a universal experience. Furthermore, essays on this topic are too often centered on the tragedy itself, rather than the applicant.

It is possible to write a college essay about a tragedy that isn’t cliche, however. The key is to keep it focused on the applicant and highly personal. To start, avoid overused themes like “life is short” and “make every day count.” Instead, highlight how the tragedy affected the writer. For example, if you had a friend who passed away from substance abuse, an essay centered around your subsequent commitment to drug prevention programs and advocacy is an interesting angle. 

In the case of an applicant who had a parent pass away, writing about shifting family dynamics, new responsibilities, and increased challenges are all great themes. For example, a student went from worrying just about academics to becoming the other adult in the house—preparing meals for their siblings, sending them off to school, and helping them with their homework.

5. Working hard in a challenging class

Working hard in a challenging class doesn’t work as an essay topic for a handful of reasons. If you’re applying to a highly ranked institution, it’s likely that most of their applicants took tough classes and worked hard. They also likely faced challenging classes, struggled, and ultimately succeeded. Another reason to avoid this topic? The traits conveyed are likely covered by recommendation letters: 

  • Perseverance
  • Work ethic 
  • Intellectual ability

Instead of writing your essay about overcoming a tough class, think about the personality traits you want to highlight. If you feel that your determination is already covered in other aspects of your application, pick another trait to feature in your essay. Or maybe, you feel like your determination isn’t emphasized enough. Which other experiences highlight this trait?

Another idea is to make the essay less about the class and more about the writer. Instead of sharing how you struggled to understand Crime and Punishment in your advanced lit class, you might detail how the class inspired a desire to write, or how the works covered made you reflect on your own life. 

You could also pick a problem or research question you want to solve, as per the fourth Common App essay prompt. Just remember that while the topic is an intellectual problem, your essay should still highlight your personality, identity, and way you think about the world. Pick something that is deeply personal to you and your background. For instance, maybe you want to create a proposal to solve food deserts in your county. This would allow you to share your personal experiences growing up in a food desert, your passion for increasing access to healthy food, and your analytical abilities.

6. Someone you admire (a person you know or historical figure)

The primary pitfall of writing about an admired person is that the essay is often focused more on the other person than the applicant. Even if students steer the essay toward themselves, they usually find themselves covering familiar themes:

  • Learning something about themselves
  • Learning something about life
  • Learning something about the world

The key to keeping writing about another person from becoming another cliché college essay is to keep the focus on the applicant. A great way to do this is to highlight a specific moment where they exemplified an attribute or action that they commend in a person that they admire. For example, if an essay writer admires their father’s ethos of standing up for what is right, an excellent essay theme is the time they stood up for another student who was being bullied, even though they knew they risked losing popularity, or finding themselves in the crosshairs of the bully as the result. 

If the person they admire is historical, they can talk about how they are trying to live their life according to those ideals. For example, the aspiring writer can focus their essay on how they adopted Hemingway’s ritual of writing every morning as soon after first light as possible, and what they’ve learned from that process. 

7. Volunteer trip

Building a winning essay about a volunteer trip is tricky—at best, these essays come off as cliché; at their worst, they can make an applicant seem pretentious, condescending, and privileged. Like other topics, the key is for the writer to focus on themself, not the group they volunteered for or the place they went. 

One way to avoid the cliché volunteer essay is to write about a specific moment on your trip, rather than giving a chronological account of your time. Get really specific and bring the reader into the moment and share with them how it affected you. An attention-grabbing essay will show the reader how you changed, instead of telling them. 

Another trick for turning volunteer essays from cliché to eye-catching is focusing on an unusual experience that happened during the volunteer trip. For example, a delayed flight while travelling home that left you stranded in a foreign city all alone and how it’s a parable for stepping on campus for the first time.

8. Moving to a different part of the country 

Similar to the immigrant story, writing about moving to a new place is also an overly-done topic. Countless students move or switch schools each year. Many have trouble fitting in or adjusting to a new place, but eventually make new friends. 

If moving was really integral to your high school experience and identity, think about why that is. Did it push you to try new interests or become more outgoing? Focus your essay less on the move itself and your adjustment, and more on how exactly it changed your life. 

For instance, some more original ways of spinning this topic would be:

  • How moving led you to start an organization that picks up unwanted furniture for free, and resells or donates items in good condition. For items in bad condition, you find ways to repair and upcycle them. This was motivated by all the trash you saw your family produce during the move.
  • At your new school, you joined the gymnastics team because you were known as the uncoordinated, awkward girl at your old school, and you wanted to shed that image.
  • After moving, you decided to go by the proper pronunciation of your Spanish name, rather than the anglicized version. You could write your essay on why you made this decision, and how it impacted your experience in your new community.

9. Your religious institution or faith

Religion is generally a very tricky topic, and it’s difficult to cover it in an original way in your essay. Writing about your faith and reflecting on it critically can work, but basic religious essays about why your faith is important to you are a little more clich é . 

It’s important to also remember your audience. If you’re applying to a religious school, essays about your faith will likely be expected. If you’re applying to a super liberal school, you might want to avoid writing your essay about your conservative religious views.  

Regardless of your situation, if you decide to write an essay on religion, share your personal relationship with your faith. Anyone can write broadly about how much their faith means to them or how their life changed when they found religion, but only you can share your personal experiences, thoughts, and perspectives.

10. Romantic relationships and breakups

Your college essays should be personal, but romantic relationships and breakups are a little too personal. Remember that applying to college is kind of like applying to a job, and you want to present yourself in a professional light. This means that writing about your romantic life is a bad idea in general. 

Unlike the other clich é topics, there are not really any directly-relevant alternatives. If you wanted to write your essay on your relationship, think about what traits that story would’ve brought out. For a breakup, was it your ability to overcome a setback? For a happy relationship, is it being emotionally intelligent or finding a compromise during conflict? Think about how you could still write an essay that conveys the same aspect of your identity, without mentioning this cliché topic.

11. Family pressure to pursue a particular major or field

Many students unfortunately experience family pressure to do certain activities or choose specific career paths. If this is the case for you, you shouldn’t focus your essay on this topic—it will only make it look like you lack independence from your parents. This is not a good sign to admissions committees, as they want a campus full of students who have the autonomy to make their own decisions. 

That’s not to say that parental input isn’t valid—you may have very legitimate reasons to follow your parents’ advice to pursue a particular career, especially if your family is low-income and you need to provide for them. But there are absolutely better topics to share your identity and background, beyond parental pressure.

Some ways to make this topic more original are:

  • If you have strict parents, discussing how you became more independent from them, and an example of when you did something for your personal development that they might not have agreed with at the time.
  • For those whose background influenced their decision to choose a “practical” field, you might talk about your situation growing up and how that influences your perspective and choices. Of course, you should still try to show genuine interest in your plans, as you don’t want to make it seem like you’re being “forced” to do something. 

Wondering if your personal essay topic is cliché? You can ask for the advice of peers and experts in our free  Q&A forum . If you’re looking for feedback on your essay, you can also get your essay  peer-reviewed for free . Just  sign up for your free CollegeVine account  to get started!

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Illustration by Catherine Song. ThoughtCo. 

  • M.Ed., Education Administration, University of Georgia
  • B.A., History, Armstrong State University

An argumentative essay requires you to decide on a topic and take a position on it. You'll need to back up your viewpoint with well-researched facts and information as well. One of the hardest parts is deciding which topic to write about, but there are plenty of ideas available to get you started.

Choosing a Great Argumentative Essay Topic

Students often find that most of their work on these essays is done before they even start writing. This means that it's best if you have a general interest in your subject, otherwise you might get bored or frustrated while trying to gather information. (You don't need to know everything, though.) Part of what makes this experience rewarding is learning something new.

It's best if you have a general interest in your subject, but the argument you choose doesn't have to be one that you agree with.

The subject you choose may not necessarily be one that you are in full agreement with, either. You may even be asked to write a paper from the opposing point of view. Researching a different viewpoint helps students broaden their perspectives. 

Ideas for Argument Essays

Sometimes, the best ideas are sparked by looking at many different options. Explore this list of possible topics and see if a few pique your interest. Write those down as you come across them, then think about each for a few minutes.

Which would you enjoy researching? Do you have a firm position on a particular subject? Is there a point you would like to make sure to get across? Did the topic give you something new to think about? Can you see why someone else may feel differently?

50 Possible Topics

A number of these topics are rather controversial—that's the point. In an argumentative essay, opinions matter and controversy is based on opinions, which are, hopefully, backed up by facts.   If these topics are a little too controversial or you don't find the right one for you, try browsing through persuasive essay and speech topics  as well.

  • Is global climate change  caused by humans?
  • Is the death penalty effective?
  • Is our election process fair?
  • Is torture ever acceptable?
  • Should men get paternity leave from work?
  • Are school uniforms beneficial?
  • Do we have a fair tax system?
  • Do curfews keep teens out of trouble?
  • Is cheating out of control?
  • Are we too dependent on computers?
  • Should animals be used for research?
  • Should cigarette smoking be banned?
  • Are cell phones dangerous?
  • Are law enforcement cameras an invasion of privacy?
  • Do we have a throwaway society?
  • Is child behavior better or worse than it was years ago?
  • Should companies market to children?
  • Should the government have a say in our diets?
  • Does access to condoms prevent teen pregnancy?
  • Should members of Congress have term limits?
  • Are actors and professional athletes paid too much?
  • Are CEOs paid too much?
  • Should athletes be held to high moral standards?
  • Do violent video games cause behavior problems?
  • Should creationism be taught in public schools?
  • Are beauty pageants exploitative ?
  • Should English be the official language of the United States?
  • Should the racing industry be forced to use biofuels?
  • Should the alcohol drinking age be increased or decreased?
  • Should everyone be required to recycle?
  • Is it okay for prisoners to vote (as they are in some states)?
  • Is it good that same-sex couples are able to marry?
  • Are there benefits to attending a single-sex school ?
  • Does boredom lead to trouble?
  • Should schools be in session year-round ?
  • Does religion cause war?
  • Should the government provide health care?
  • Should abortion be illegal?
  • Are girls too mean to each other?
  • Is homework harmful or helpful?
  • Is the cost of college too high?
  • Is college admission too competitive?
  • Should euthanasia be illegal?
  • Should the federal government legalize marijuana use nationally ?
  • Should rich people be required to pay more taxes?
  • Should schools require foreign language or physical education?
  • Is affirmative action fair?
  • Is public prayer okay in schools?
  • Are schools and teachers responsible for low test scores?
  • Is greater gun control a good idea?
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2023-2024 Common App essay prompts

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We are pleased to announce that the Common App essay prompts will remain the same for 2023-2024.

It’s not just for the sake of consistency that we have chosen to keep the essay prompts the same for the upcoming application year. Our past research has shown that overall satisfaction with the prompts exceeded 95% across our constituent groups - students, counselors, advisors, teachers, and member colleges. Moving forward, we want to learn more about who is choosing certain prompts to see if there are any noteworthy differences among student populations.

We know some schools are beginning to have conversations with juniors and transfer students about their college options. As we’ve always said, this is not a call for students to begin writing. We hope that by sharing the prompts now, students will have the time they need to reflect on their own personal stories and begin thinking about what they want to share with colleges. As you assist students with their planning, feel free to share our Common App Ready resource on approaching the essay (in English and Spanish ). You can also visit our YouTube channel to view our breakdown of all 7 Common App essay prompts . 

"Moving forward, we want to learn more about who is choosing certain prompts to see if there are any noteworthy differences among student populations." Meredith Lombardi, Director, Education and Training, Common App

Students who are ready to start exploring the application can create their Common App account prior to August 1. With account rollover , we will retain any responses to questions on the Common App tab, including the personal essay.

Below is the full set of essay prompts for 2023-2024.

  • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  • Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  • Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

We will retain the optional community disruption question within the Writing section. 

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Essay Topics – List of 500+ Essay Writing Topics and Ideas

List of 500+ essay writing topics and ideas.

Essay topics in English can be difficult to come up with. While writing essays , many college and high school students face writer’s block and have a hard time to think about topics and ideas for an essay. In this article, we will list out many good essay topics from different categories like argumentative essays, essays on technology, environment essays for students from 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th grades. Following list of essay topics are for all – from kids to college students. We have the largest collection of essays. An essay is nothing but a piece of content which is written from the perception of writer or author. Essays are similar to a story, pamphlet, thesis, etc. The best thing about Essay is you can use any type of language – formal or informal. It can biography, the autobiography of anyone. Following is a great list of 100 essay topics. We will be adding 400 more soon!

But Before that you may wanna read some awesome Essay Writing Tips here .

500+ essay topics for students and children

Get the Huge list of 100+ Speech Topics here

Argumentative Essay Topics

  • Should plastic be banned?
  • Pollution due to Urbanization
  • Education should be free
  • Should Students get limited access to the Internet?
  • Selling Tobacco should be banned
  • Smoking in public places should be banned
  • Facebook should be banned
  • Students should not be allowed to play PUBG

Essay Topics on Technology

  • Wonder Of Science
  • Mobile Phone

Essay Topics on Festivals on Events

  • Independence Day (15 August)
  • Teachers Day
  • Summer Vacation
  • Children’s Day
  • Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
  • Janmashtami
  • Republic Day

Essay Topics on Education

  • Education Essay
  • Importance of Education
  • Contribution of Technology in Education

most common college essay topic

Essay Topics on Famous Leaders

  • Mahatma Gandhi
  • APJ Abdul Kalam
  • Jawaharlal Nehru
  • Swami Vivekananda
  • Mother Teresa
  • Rabindranath Tagore
  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
  • Subhash Chandra Bose
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Martin Luther King
  • Lal Bahadur Shashtri

Essay Topics on Animals and Birds

  • My Favorite Animal

Essays Topics About Yourself

  • My Best Friend
  • My Favourite Teacher
  • My Aim In Life
  • My Favourite Game – Badminton
  • My Favourite Game – Essay
  • My Favourite Book
  • My Ambition
  • How I Spent My Summer Vacation
  • India of My Dreams
  • My School Life
  • I Love My Family
  • My Favourite Subject
  • My Favourite Game Badminton
  • My Father My Hero
  • My School Library
  • My Favourite Author
  • My plans for summer vacation

Essay Topics Based on Environment and Nature

  • Global Warming
  • Environment
  • Air Pollution
  • Environmental Pollution
  • Water Pollution
  • Rainy Season
  • Climate Change
  • Importance Of Trees
  • Winter Season
  • Deforestation
  • Natural Disasters
  • Save Environment
  • Summer Season
  • Trees Our Best Friend Essay In English

Essay Topics Based on Proverbs

  • Health Is Wealth
  • A Stitch in Time Saves Nine
  • An Apple a Day Keeps Doctor Away
  • Where there is a will, there is way
  • Time and Tide wait for none

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Essay Topics for Students from 6th, 7th, 8th Grade

  • Noise Pollution
  • Environment Pollution
  • Women Empowerment
  • Time and Tide Wait for none
  • Science and Technology
  • Importance of Sports
  • Sports and Games
  • Time Management
  • Cleanliness is next to Godliness
  • Cleanliness
  • Rome was not Built in a Day
  • Unemployment
  • Clean India
  • Cow Essay In English
  • Describe Yourself
  • Festivals Of India
  • Ganesh Chaturthi
  • Healthy Food
  • Importance Of Water
  • Plastic Pollution
  • Value of Time
  • Honesty is the Best Policy
  • Gandhi Jayanti
  • Human Rights
  • Knowledge Is Power
  • Same Sex Marriage
  • Childhood Memories
  • Cyber Crime
  • Kalpana Chawla
  • Punctuality
  • Rani Lakshmi Bai
  • Spring Season
  • Unity In Diversity
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Online Shopping
  • Indian Culture
  • Healthy Lifestyle
  • Indian Education System
  • Disaster Management
  • Environmental Issues
  • Freedom Fighters
  • Grandparents
  • Save Fuel For Better Environment
  • Importance Of Newspaper
  • Lal Bahadur Shastri
  • Raksha Bandhan
  • World Environment Day
  • Narendra Modi
  • What Is Religion
  • Charity Begins at Home
  • A Journey by Train
  • Ideal student
  • Save Water Save Earth
  • Indian Farmer
  • Safety of Women in India
  • Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
  • Capital Punishment
  • College Life
  • Natural Resources
  • Peer Pressure
  • Nature Vs Nurture
  • Romeo And Juliet
  • Generation Gap
  • Makar Sankranti
  • Constitution of India
  • Girl Education
  • Importance of Family
  • Importance of Independence Day
  • Brain Drain
  • A Friend In Need Is A Friend Indeed
  • Action Speaks Louder Than Words
  • All That Glitters Is Not Gold
  • Bhagat Singh
  • Demonetization
  • Agriculture
  • Importance of Discipline
  • Population Explosion
  • Poverty in India
  • Uses Of Mobile Phones
  • Water Scarcity
  • Train Journey
  • Land Pollution
  • Environment Protection
  • Indian Army
  • Uses of Internet
  • All that Glitters is not Gold
  • Balanced Diet
  • Blood Donation
  • Digital India
  • Dussehra Essay
  • Energy Conservation
  • National Integration
  • Railway Station
  • Sachin Tendulkar
  • Health And Hygiene
  • Importance Of Forest
  • Indira Gandhi
  • Laughter Is The Best Medicine
  • Career Goals
  • Mental Health
  • Save Water Save Life
  • International Yoga Day
  • Winter Vacation
  • Soil Pollution
  • Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining
  • Indian Culture And Tradition
  • Unity Is Strength
  • Unity is Diversity
  • Wildlife Conservation
  • Cruelty To Animals
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Of Mice And Men
  • Organ Donation
  • Life in a Big City
  • Democracy in India
  • Waste Management
  • Biodiversity
  • Afforestation
  • Female Foeticide
  • Harmful Effects Of Junk Food
  • Rain Water Harvesting
  • Save Electricity
  • Social Media
  • Social Networking Sites
  • Sound Pollution
  • Procrastination
  • Life in an Indian Village
  • Life in Big City
  • Population Growth
  • World Population Day
  • Greenhouse Effect
  • Statue of Unity
  • Traffic Jam
  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao
  • Importance of Good Manners
  • Good Manners
  • Cyber Security
  • Green Revolution
  • Health And Fitness
  • Incredible India
  • Make In India
  • Surgical Strike
  • Triple Talaq
  • A Good Friend
  • Importance of Friends in our Life
  • Should Plastic be Banned
  • Nationalism
  • Traffic Rules
  • Effects of Global Warming
  • Fundamental Rights
  • Solar System
  • National Constitution Day
  • Good Mother
  • Importance of Trees in our Life
  • City Life Vs Village Life
  • Importance of Communication
  • Conservation of Nature
  • Man vs. Machine
  • Indian Economy
  • Mothers Love
  • Importance of National Integration
  • Black Money
  • Greenhouse effect
  • Untouchability
  • Self Discipline
  • Global Terrorism
  • Conservation of Biodiversity
  • Newspaper and Its Uses
  • World Health Day
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • A Picnic with Family
  • Indian Heritage
  • Status of Women in India
  • Child is Father of the Man
  • Reading is Good Habit
  • Plastic Bag
  • Terrorism in India
  • Library and Its Uses
  • Life on Mars
  • Urbanization
  • Pollution Due to Diwali
  • National Flag of India
  • Vocational Education
  • Importance of Tree Plantation
  • Summer Camp
  • Vehicle Pollution
  • Women Education in India
  • Seasons in India
  • Freedom of the Press
  • Caste System
  • Environment and Human Health
  • Mountain Climbing
  • Depletion of Natural Resources
  • Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar
  • Health Education
  • Effects of Deforestation
  • Life after School
  • Starvation in India
  • Jan Dhan Yojana
  • Impact of Privatization
  • Election Commission of India
  • Election and Democracy
  • Prevention of Global Warming
  • Impact of Cinema in Life
  • Subhas Chandra Bose
  • Dowry System
  • Ganesh Chaturthi Festival
  • Role of Science in Making India
  • Impact of Global Warming on Oceans
  • Pollution due to Festivals
  • Ambedkar Jayanti
  • Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat
  • Family Planning in India
  • Democracy vs Dictatorship
  • National Festivals of India
  • Sri Aurobindo
  • Casteism in India
  • Organ trafficking
  • Consequences of Global Warming
  • Role of Human Activities in Global Warming
  • Issues and Problems faced by Women in India
  • Role of Judiciary in the Country Today
  • Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan
  • PUBG Mobile Game Addiction
  • Role of Youths in Nation Building
  • Value of Oxygen and Water in Life/Earth
  • Farmer Suicides in India
  • Start-up India
  • Pollution Due to Firecrackers
  • Life of Soldiers
  • Child Labour
  • Save Girl Child
  • Morning Walk
  • My School Fete
  • Essay on Financial Literacy
  • Essay On Sustainable Development
  • Essay On Punjab
  • Essay On Travel
  • My Home Essay
  • Child Marriage Essay
  • Importance Of English Language Essay
  • Essay On Mass Media
  • Essay On Horse
  • Essay On Police
  • Essay On Eid
  • Essay On Solar Energy
  • Animal Essay
  • Essay On Mango
  • Gender Discrimination Essay
  • Essay On Advertisement
  • My First Day At School Essay
  • My Neighborhood Essay
  • True Friendship Essay
  • Work Is Worship Essay
  • Essay On Self Confidence
  • Essay On Superstition
  • Essay On Bangalore
  • Sex Vs Gender Essay
  • Essay On Social Issues
  • Time Is Money Essay
  • Essay About Grandmothers
  • Essay On Hard Work
  • First Day Of School Essay
  • Flowers Essay
  • My Favorite Food Essay
  • Essay on Birds
  • Essay on Humanity
  • Essay on Sun
  • Essay on Kargil War
  • Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining Essay
  • Francis Bacon Essays
  • Importance of Cleanliness Essay
  • My Sister Essay
  • Self Introduction Essay
  • Solar Energy Essay
  • Sports Day Essa
  • Value Of Education Essay
  • Essay On Isro
  • Essay On Balance Is Beneficial
  • Essay On Reservation In India
  • Essay On Water Management
  • Essay On Smoking
  • Essay On Stress Management
  • Essay On William Shakespeare
  • Essay on Apple
  • Essay On Albert Einstein
  • Essay On Feminism
  • Essay On Kindness
  • Essay On Domestic Violence
  • Essay on English as a Global Language
  • Essay On Co-Education
  • Importance Of Exercise Essay
  • Overpopulation Essay
  • Smartphone Essay
  • Essay on River
  • Essay on Cyclone
  • Essay On Facebook
  • Essay On Science In Everyday Life
  • Essay On Women Rights
  • Essay On Right To Education
  • Essay on Quotes
  • Essay On Peace
  • Essay On Drawing
  • Essay On Bicycle
  • Essay On Sexual Harassment
  • Essay On Hospital
  • Essay On Srinivasa Ramanujan
  • Essay On Golden Temple
  • Essay On Art
  • Essay On Ruskin Bond
  • Essay On Moon
  • Birthday Essay
  • Dont Judge A Book By Its Cover Essay
  • Draught Essay
  • Gratitude Essay
  • Indian Politics Essay
  • Who am I Essay
  • Essay on Positive Thinking
  • Essay on Dance
  • Essay on Navratri
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  • Essay on New Education Policy 2020
  • Esasy on Thank you Coronavirus Helpers
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  • Essay on Baseball
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  • Fitness beats pandemic essay
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  • Gender inequality essay
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  • My pet essay
  • Student life essay
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  • Essay on earth
  • Essay on knowledge is power
  • Essay on favourite personality
  • Essay on memorable day of my life
  • My parents essay
  • Our country essay
  • Picnic essay
  • Travelling essay

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There are many parts that go into the holistic admissions process . Your test scores, extracurriculars , and GPA all play a crucial role, but perhaps one of the most important parts of your college application is your application essay. 

Your application essay is your opportunity to demonstrate who you are, what drives you, and what is important to you. It’s a chance to go beyond numbers and draw a picture of the person behind the application. 

That said, admissions officers read thousands of these essays every year. Since it’s highly likely that they’ll come across a lot of the same topics and themes, you’ll want to avoid clichés that will keep you from standing out.

Here’s a list of common topics to avoid in your application essays:

The autobiography

Avoid retelling your entire life story in your essay. Remember, each admissions officer has hundreds of essays to read through and you have limited space to make an impression. It’s better to focus on one meaningful experience that has impacted you.

Bragging about accomplishments

Similarly, you don’t want to use your essay to give a long list of your accomplishments. For one, a laundry list of achievements will likely come off as arrogant and may not sit well with an admissions committee. There are also other areas of your application where you can list these such as your résumé and additional information section. You’re better off using your essay to give a better sense of who you are, not just what you’ve done. 

Unfortunately, writing about a big move is one of the many college essay topics that have been done countless times. Admissions officers have likely already read about plenty of students having to switch schools and adapt to a new place. Instead, try and focus on a specific part of your life or identity that changed when you moved. 

Similarly, divorces are another common topic that affects many students which means admissions officers have likely read many essays on the subject. Again, this is an instance where it’s better to focus on the specific impact it had on your life and what you took away from the experience, rather than on the event itself.

Immigration story

While immigrating to a new country is certainly impactful, there are many common clichés used in telling these stories that you want to avoid such as feeling ostracized, language barriers, feeling homesick, etc. Focus instead on what this experience has brought to your life and how it’s shaped the person you’ve become. 

Romantic relationships

Just like applying for a job, you want to keep your college application as professional as possible. Romantic relationships or breakups are likely too personal of a topic for a college admissions essay. The important thing to remember is that you want your essay to shine a light on your identity which is admittedly harder to do when the topic revolves around another person in your life. The same can be said for writing about a beloved pet or someone you admire, so you’ll likely want to avoid those, too. 

Illegal/bad judgment

Again, it’s important to keep your application professional and make a good first impression for admissions officers. Avoid telling a story that may demonstrate poor judgment on your behalf, especially if it deals with anything illegal. Instead, focus on highlighting your best traits and the best version of yourself.

Sports clichés

While sports are a great way to learn life lessons, they’ve likely all been heard by admissions officers before. Sports stories are often predictable and forgettable (think of every inspiring sports movie you’ve watched) so you’ll probably want to avoid these if possible and instead, focus on a specific instance where you might have applied some of the lessons you learned through sports. 

Remember, there’s no hard and fast rule to what makes the perfect college admissions essay. Avoiding these topics will probably make it easier for your essay to stand out, but there are exceptions to every rule. Your main focus should be telling a specific narrative that is unique to you and gives a sense of your personality to the admissions officer. 

For more guidance, be sure to check out some examples of strong admissions essays from top schools and this list of common mistakes to avoid in your essays. 

  • November 9, 2021
  • 12th Grade , College Admissions

Overused College Essay Topics

most common college essay topic

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The 3 Most Common College Essay Topic Clichés and How to Cure Them

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1. The “Person I Admire” Essay

Is your dad the most important person in your life? Have you recently been coping with the death of a loved one? Do you plan on following in the footsteps of your high school mentor? Believe it or not, more than one person reading this article answered “yes” to at least one of those questions. Although we all have different relationships with the people we admire, essays on this subject often veer off the narrative cliff into an ocean of similar sob stories. These stories also run the risk of focusing too much on the influential figure or family member and not enough on the student writing the essay.

Remember, this is YOUR college application – not your grandpa’s, not Abraham Lincoln’s. Admissions wants to know about YOU, and what makes you a uniquely good fit for their school. If a person has had a significant impact on your life – sad or happy, negative or positive – focus on one important moment in that relationship. If you want to be just like your dad, when did you realize this? If your mother was sick, how did you help her manage her illness, and what did you learn about your own abilities to face life’s greatest challenges? Is there an unexpected way you can find joy or hope in a moment of sadness? Telling a simple story that is specific to your own life and experience will make all the difference here.

2. The Sports Essay

The crowd goes wild as you score the winning touchdown and are carried off the backs of your teammates….in a cast! Because you did the whole thing with a broken leg! Victories, injuries, and teamwork are the most common themes sloshing around the bucket of vague sports essays. This topic presents an opportunity for students to describe how they surmount different kinds of obstacles – an opportunity almost everyone takes. Surprisingly, the challenges of playing soccer in Ohio are quite similar to those of playing baseball in Montana. And serious athletes with sports-heavy resumes who also write about sports run the risk of boring admissions to tears with their one-note applications.

The sports essay is actually a huge arena in which a student can showcase his or her creativity. It’s time to abandon the simple narratives of bones broken and medals won. Put your unique perspective on display by describing how the skills you gained from athletics transfer to other areas of your life (or vice versa). Turn your favorite sport into a metaphor to describe another aspect of who you are. Or, if you still can’t resist telling one of the more common kinds of sports stories, dig into the details of that story. Try to isolate a small moment within the larger story that was significant or surprising. A victory isn’t just about winning or teamwork – maybe it’s also about the way your friend made you laugh on the bus before you even set foot on the field.

3. The Volunteering Essay

“…but it turns out that, when I thought I was helping them, all along they were really helping me.” Stop! Pull at our heartstrings no longer! If you, too, have been changed by your community service, you are not alone. That is an amazing side effect of doing good deeds that affect others. Millions of students across the country and around the globe donate their time to worthy causes (something that makes us very happy), but the mere act of volunteering is no longer enough to distinguish you from your competitors. Common pitfalls of the volunteering essay include saccharine storytelling, repeating your resume, and parroting the Wikipedia page of your organization of choice.

Ideally, you should donate your time to a cause that is truly significant to you. Thousands of people do the Breast Cancer walk every year. They all follow the same route and see the same sights, but what about the story that led up to you taking that first step? Ideally, the service itself should be the reward – not the “lessons learned” from the people who benefit from your service. Or, if you truly experienced personal growth through volunteering, try to isolate a particular moment or relationship that can illustrate the change you observed in yourself. Showing, not telling, is the key to writing a unique and engaging volunteering essay.

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Written by Thea Hogarth

Category: College Admissions , Essay Tips

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Most Common IELTS Writing Topic

by CANAM Group

  • By: CANAM Group
  • Updated On: Feb 21,2024 10:22 AM IST

The IELTS Writing section can be challenging, with confusing expectations and unfamiliar prompts. But fear not! This blog is a reliable guide to essay writing, providing light on the most common subjects and showing the route to essay proficiency. With a thorough understanding of Visual data and various essays, we will provide the valuable tactics an aspirant might need to conquer the writing arena skillfully.

Table of Contents

  • • Structure of IELTS Writing Section
  • • Academic Writing in IELTS
  • • Task 1- Data Description
  • • Task 2- Essay Writing

Structure of IELTS Writing Section

Academic writing in ielts, task 1- data description, what exactly do candidates have to do, types of data you encounter, sample topics for data description, most common topics covered in data description, environment and sustainability, business and economics, health and wellbeing, task 2- essay writing, most common topics for essay writing, social issues, personal experiences.

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IMAGES

  1. 011 Best College Essay Topics Student Sample ~ Thatsnotus

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    Topic Brainstorming: The Essence Objects Exercise Topic Brainstorming:"Everything I Want Colleges to Know About Me" List Essay Topics and Ideas The Values exercise This exercise is useful for identifying both your core values and your aspirations by answering this question: WHAT DO I VALUE? Download a Printable Version of the Values List

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    The very best college essay topics are those that hold deep meaning to their writers and have truly influenced them in some significant way.

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    19 college essay topics Each school sets different requirements around the college essay, so it's important to review the expectations around every application you intend to submit. Some give you creative freedom, while others expect you to respond to a pre-developed prompt.

  4. Choosing Your College Essay Topic

    Checklist Frequently asked questions about college application essays Other interesting articles What makes a good topic? Here are some guidelines for a good essay topic: It's focused on you and your experience It shares something different from the rest of your application It's specific and original (not many students could write a similar essay)

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    The UCA essay prompt is completely open ended and has a 650-word limit. Here is the 2022-2023 prompt: Please write an essay that demonstrates your ability to develop and communicate your thoughts. Some ideas include: a person you admire; a life-changing experience; or your viewpoint on a particular current event.

  8. 8 College Essay Topics

    These include the standard college admission essay, supplemental essay, personal statement, and personal challenge essay, to name a few. Whether it's the "why Northwestern" essay or the Columbia essay prompts, good college essay topics help schools learn more about you and your life experiences.

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    Personal growth and how you respond to life's changes is definitely one of the most common college essay topics you'll encounter. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time.

  10. 35 College Essay Prompts and Topics

    35 College Essay Prompts and Topics Posted by SignUpGenius Team The college application process can be stressful and sometimes overwhelming. A great way to stand out from the crowd and boost an application for a "reach" school is with a strong essay. We've put together a list of common prompts and advice for how to answer them.

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    Popular College Application Essay Topics (and How to Answer Them) Get help writing your college application essays. Find this year's Common App writing prompts and popular essay questions used by individual colleges.

  12. What Admissions Officers Think of 3 Common College Essay Topics

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    September 29, 2023 | In Applying | By Mike The Best College Essay Topics for 2023-2024 Bonus Material: To check out 30 real examples of essays that worked to get students into schools like Princeton, click the link: Download 30 College Essays That Worked

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    1. Résumé of your life and achievements Résumés are an effective method to demonstrate achievements, but they're boring to read. This is why, in the professional world, résumés are often accompanied by a cover letter.

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  16. Most common college essay topics?

    Knowing the most common college essay topics can indeed help you avoid clichés and make your essay stand out. Some clichéd topics you might want to avoid include: 1. Sports injuries or victories. 2. Moving schools or adjusting to new environments. 3. Immigrant's story (arriving in a new country and adapting) 4.

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    February 24, 2023. We are pleased to announce that the Common App essay prompts will remain the same for 2023-2024. It's not just for the sake of consistency that we have chosen to keep the essay prompts the same for the upcoming application year. Our past research has shown that overall satisfaction with the prompts exceeded 95% across our ...

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  20. 10 Most Overused Essay Topics

    10) Résumé Recap Clubs, jobs, internships, research, travel… these are all topics that seem like good ideas at first. I get it! It makes sense to want to write about experiences you've had or involvement that's impacted you. Yet, for some reason, when you smash them together into a 600+ word essay, it typically falls flat.

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    Here's a list of common topics to avoid in your application essays: The autobiography. Avoid retelling your entire life story in your essay. Remember, each admissions officer has hundreds of essays to read through and you have limited space to make an impression. It's better to focus on one meaningful experience that has impacted you.

  22. 7 Common App Essay Prompts for 2023-2024 Application Cycle

    Common App Essay Prompt #7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. Prompt 7, "Topic of Your Choice," offers a blank canvas for students with a clear story in mind, one that doesn't quite fit any other prompts.

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    Victories, injuries, and teamwork are the most common themes sloshing around the bucket of vague sports essays. This topic presents an opportunity for students to describe how they surmount different kinds of obstacles - an opportunity almost everyone takes. Surprisingly, the challenges of playing soccer in Ohio are quite similar to those of ...

  24. Most Common IELTS Writing Topic

    Most Common IELTS Writing Topic. 2 Reads. 3 min Read. By: CANAM Group. Updated On: Feb 20,2024 05:49 PM IST. The IELTS Writing section can be challenging, with confusing expectations and unfamiliar prompts. But fear not! This blog is a reliable guide to essay writing, providing light on the most common subjects and showing the route to essay ...