U.S. college application essays often contain the typical stories and clichés discussed in this material. "Tell about your personality traits, talents, accomplishments, or experiences that you find most meaningful."
In one form or another, this question is asked when applying to almost any American university, forcing admissions officers to read thousands of essays that differ little from one another.
So, how do you make sure that your online class king reviews get noticed in an ocean of similar stories? It all starts with choosing the right topic, which will help you describe your experience succinctly and sincerely, while demonstrating the ability to write beautifully.
However, it's easier said than done. Before choosing what you will write your introductory essay about, it is helpful to know what topics to avoid and why. Here are a few of the most popular template topics.
A story about a volunteer project that demonstrates your willingness to help others in an essay for an American institution.
"Many applicants choose to write about their involvement in a volunteer project or church involvement," says Marie Schofer, director of admissions at Cornell College. "It's a wonderful experience that's certainly reflected in your personal development. The only problem is that no matter where you go or what projects you're involved in, the conclusion is always the same – you enjoy helping people. And that's great," she explains, "but unfortunately, that kind of experience doesn't help you stand out from other incoming students.
"The continuity of a certain profession in your family" as an essay topic for applying to an American university.
"There's nothing wrong with being proud that your family members are also connected to the profession of your choice, but speculating about continuity does nothing to help you 'sell' yourself to an admissions committee," explains Christopher Hall, associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. "Mick Jagger may be a great singer," he adds, "but that doesn't guarantee that that gift has been passed on to his children. And so it's better to talk about your own talents and abilities rather than the accomplishments of your great-grandparents."
Overcoming athletic trauma is at the center of the narrative of your essay for a U.S. university.
As Drew Nichols, head of admissions at St. Edward's University, rightly points out, "Applicants to most American universities come from different classes of society. Many promising applicants have had to go through such hardships as poverty, difficult family situations, serious illness. An essay on sports injury only demonstrates that you don't realize how lucky you are." "If you cite the inability to play soccer for one semester as the biggest hardship of your life," he explains, "then you simply don't realize the challenges some of your peers face.
Description of a national disaster in an admissions essay for an institution in the United States.
"Typically, American institutions of higher education ask for an essay to learn more about you, but that information can get lost if the narrative centers on tragic events from your country's history," explains Michelle Curtis-Bailey, lead admissions officer and coordinator of Stony Brook University's Educational Opportunities Program. "After Hurricane Sandy hit New York City in late October 2012, at the peak of the application season," she says, "we received many essays whose authors referenced these events in one way or another. But, again, by recounting what happened to them and their families during the storm, the applicants weren't achieving their cherished goal, because that information said nothing about their identity." "We already know how natural disasters can affect the lives of our future students, there's no need to write unnecessarily about an experience that replicates exactly the stories of other applicants," Michelle concludes.
A story about a trip that made you realize how difficult it is for young people from poorer classes in the United States as a topic for an admissions essay.
"Quite often we get essays that describe the experience of helping poor countries, for example, by building houses or teaching English to local people," Hall says, "But all the value of such experiences is negated as soon as the applicants start writing about how the project helped them realize the situation of the poor in American cities, or feel a special emotional connection to the people of the United States in distress." Hall believes that "comparing young people from poor neighborhoods in the U.S. to those in the Third World shows a lack of understanding of cultural differences and the ability to truly empathize."