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College Essay Myth #1: Your Topic Must Be Impressive

Rising seniors, by now you should be thinking about college – and have a pretty good idea of which schools interest you.

Thinking about the best college essay topic? How will you know what to write? How can you tell if it is good?

In the coming days, we’re going to share with you the Top 5 Myths of the college essay to help you find your best topic and know if it is good when you are done.

Let’s start with Myth No. 1

Myth 1: An essay must be written about an impressive topic.

Fact: You are impressive, not your topic. A college application essay is your opportunity to share something meaningful about yourself. The story, not the experience, is most important. Colleges want to know what you learned, not what you did.

Your topic is important; why it is meaningful to you is more important.

A few years ago, I had a student who insisted a trip to help the poor in Central America would capture someone’s attention inside the admissions office. I asked her why that trip was so important, how it was meaningful, what she took away from it. Did you learn anything about herself from working with the poor? Did it affect her so dramatically that she changed as a result? She never met a poor person before. It was interesting. Was that a good topic? Nope.

But through brainstorming, I helped her discover something she did learn about herself. Turns out, her most important moment occurred when she was hanging out with friends during that trip. She overcame her fear of heights by jumping off a cliff into the water. That experience would have been meaningful whether it had happened during a service trip in Costa Rica or on a family vacation.

“Students think it has to be a discussion of their most traumatic experiences,” says Tamara Siler, Senior Associate Director of Admissions for Rice University. “If you have a relatively peaceful existence, that is fine.”

Stay Tuned for Myth 2

About the author: Kim Lifton is President of Wow Writing Workshop, a strategic communications and content marketing company. Wow students get into their top-choice colleges year after year.  Let the national experts on the college essay guide you to your best story, and improve your chances of getting into the college of your dreams. Want to find out how to find a great topic and make your essay good? Watch this video, College Essay Crash Course, The Common App.

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About Guest Author

This post was written by a friend of Magoosh.


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