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Admissions Essays: The Importance of Originality

college essay originalityQuestion: What do these essay themes have in common?

The moment you won the big soccer game

The two week mission trip to Mexico and how you learned what real poverty is and realized how lucky you are.

At the moment your loved one was diagnosed with cancer you decided to become a doctor

Answer: They are not original. Admissions officers have read many essays on these topics.

While it may be possible to write a great college admissions essay on any of these topics, you should know it is likely that these are topics that have been used so often they are considered by many to be unoriginal. This is not to say you must avoid these topics, but that you will need to much work harder to make sure your essay is offers a fresh perspective. Think of the admissions officer who has to read hundreds of essays year after year. It is easy to imagine how boring it would be to read the same topic again and again.

I encourage you to begin by brainstorming a large number of topics and take your time to make a choice. Sometimes a student’s first inclination is to write what they think is what a college admissions essay should be like. Many students believe this means that they should write about a big defining life moment where they learned something that would shape the rest of their life. If you’ve genuinely had such a moment it may make a good essay topic, but at age 17 and 18 most teens have not had such moments and that’s okay.

Some of the most captivating and original essays are about the little things in life. Share something about yourself that is unique and that an admissions officer hasn’t already learned from the rest of your application.

To learn more about essays:
Common Application Essay Strategies
Admissions Essay Tip: Think About Your Audience
Essay Traps to Avoid

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