An interesting fact: some worst topics are at the same time most common topics. We decided to provide you with a list of topics to avoid, because we know that choosing a topic is a difficult task. There are many reasons why students keep choosing boring and typical topics for their essays. Somebody may think that the reason is a lack of creativity, but it’s certainly wrong, because most students know how to use their creativity. Maybe they have problems with gumption? It doesn’t seem to be true because some students even try to write an anti-essay (we will talk about it further).
Given that most often students need to write narrative essays, a topic is extremely important. However, the exact same topics may lead either to good or bad essays.
Here is a boring essay: a brief report of Jason’s trip to Indonesia with his parents and sister, where he volunteered at the school.
Here is a really good essay: Jason has been to Indonesia, where he met an old Indonesian woman who never had a chance to learn how to read. She couldn’t learn it because she’s from a very poor family. Jason became friends with her and started teaching her…
Well, what is a key difference between these two essays? The second one provides you with interesting details that make you want to read more, while the first essay doesn’t have anything intriguing. Narrative essays should draw readers’ attention to details and create a live picture so that everyone could imagine your situation and feel what you felt.
Before you decided to write about something, we suggest checking out our list and making sure that you don’t write on one of the following subjects.
- A summary of your accomplishments.
First of all, nobody likes blowhards. The second point is that such essays are usually long and boring, being about nothing in particular. Of course, you have to show your strong sides, but if you just tell people what you’ve achieved, it will be the worst approach. Let them decide what a person you are. They can do it by learning your experiences. Only others can assess you, you don’t have to tell them what to think.
- Sensitive and controversial topics.
Imagine you sitting at the Thanksgiving table. Don’t talk about religion or politics. You may have some strong beliefs or be really passionate about some issues, but your admission essay is aimed to gain admission, and nothing else, so don’t raise controversies.
No matter how good you are in sports, all essays on sports are basically the same. They are very predictable, so there’s nothing that would motivate your readers to keep reading. There are millions of other topics, so it shouldn’t be a problem for you to choose something else to write about. Just believe us, admissions officers have seen thousands of essays about great victories and awful defeats, so don’t test your luck.
Of course, you can write about some funny situation, but don’t try to be funny. The main thing about humor is that it should be natural, so if you catch yourself trying to write another joke, it means that you’re really close to failing. No one will appreciate your attempts to be funny, especially given that you can write a good essay without using unnecessary humor.
- You are so lucky! You have so many opportunities!
We get it. It’s good if you appreciate how privileged you are, but please, don’t write the whole essay about it. Usually, such essays are quite boring. If you don’t want to see eyes rolled, avoid such things. The only exception is if you mention your privileges to tell a story of how you used some special opportunity, or how you refused to use it, in order to overcome new unusual challenges.
- Trips and volunteering.
This is one of the most popular topics for admission essays. Moreover, it’s a common cliché. Your readers know how people travel and try some volunteering activities. It doesn’t mean that you cannot mention your experiences, just make sure that your entire essay isn’t devoted to your mission trip to El Salvador. If you really want to write about it, provide your readers with as many details as possible. What people and situations inspired you, and why? Maybe something unexpected and extraordinary happened? If so, it may be the only reason to write about your trip.
- Unnecessary self-expression.
We have already mentioned anti-essays at the beginning. What did we mean? Sometimes applicants think that they are too creative and smart to put themselves in strict boundaries of boring classical forms, so they try to create something completely different from any other college essay. Poems, songs, streams of random thoughts, and sarcastic drafts may seem creative and exciting, but don’t expect admissions officers to appreciate your effort.
- Illegal or immoral behavior.
Jail, arrests, alcohol, drugs, and sex are certainly the topics that you must avoid. Even if you learned much from such experiences, we suggest that you have had other important events in your life. You can write how you changed your life and became a new person, but still, you don’t need others to judge you, so don’t provoke them. Even if something has happened a long ago, your goal is to show your strong sides.
- The most important place/thing/person in your life.
This is exactly what a second grader would write about. The college commission isn’t interested in essays that even a child can write.
- Tragic events.
Let’s be honest, everyone has been through the death of somebody important, or divorce. Your essay must be unique, so avoid obvious topics that everyone can choose. You don’t need to be one of the hundred applicants who wrote about how their granny died. We suggest writing on such a topic only in case you’re able to focus on your personal feelings and lessons that changed your life. Don’t describe the sad situation, write about yourself in it.