Five College Essay Topics to Avoid


Kate Sliunkova

AdmitYogi, Stanford MBA & MA in Education



3 min read

Five College Essay Topics to Avoid

It's tough for many students to think of college application essay topics, especially when they're already dealing with the stressful college application process. The Common App essay and additional essays allow students to show admissions officers their unique qualities beyond their grades and how they're different from the rest of the applicants. So, it's important to make sure your essay is bold and takes some risks, but not to the point of being overly risky.

In order to dodge a bunch of rejections in January, steer clear of writing on these subjects:

1. Your love life


Chatting about your romantic life isn't suitable or professional when writing a college application essay. Even the most talented writers can struggle when it comes to discussing their love lives, and you're probably no exception.

2. Using drugs or alcohol

Drugs and alcohol

If you talk about any unlawful or improper actions in your writing, admissions officers might doubt your decision-making skills, even if you've learned from those experiences.

3. Your resume


By the time the admissions officer gets to your essays, they probably already know about your after-school and weekend activities. So, there's no need to bore them by repeating that info in your essay. Instead, use the essay to reveal something new about yourself that they won't find anywhere else in the application. Don't just list your achievements; focus on sharing your thoughts about yourself and your reasons for wanting to attend the college. Keep it friendly and casual, and avoid using fancy words.

4. Sports


For the past decade, college admissions essays on sports or injuries have become way too common. Why is that? Well, pretty much every college applicant has a sport. So, when you write about your athletic experiences, you're not really setting yourself apart from other college applicants. Plus, sports essays usually end up being super predictable and full of cliches, regardless of whether you're talking about a big win ("felt the excitement of victory") or a tough loss ("endured the pain of defeat"). If you don't have a unique story to share, it's better to steer clear of this topic.

5. Mission trips

Mission trips

A common service trip essay, where you discuss how helping others transformed you, can often come across as flaunting your privilege. It's like sports; most people have participated, and college admissions officers know that lots of students use these experiences to pad their resumes. However, if there's a particular moment from the trip that really stands out to you (ideally, a moment where you had to think on your feet or come up with a creative solution), then feel free to write about it.

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Stan Lee

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Yale (+19 colleges)

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