My Common App Essay: Pigeons


Kate Sliunkova

AdmitYogi, Stanford MBA & MA in Education



3 min read

My Common App Essay: Pigeons

Like many of the folks reading this post, I never had any life-changing circumstances or sob stories I could write about for college applications. I lived a fairly normal, uneventful life. As such, I spent weeks mulling over what topics I could discuss — what essays would make me stand out as an applicant.

After pondering for weeks, I came to a significant and impactful realization: leading a normal life doesn't require you to have completely normal preferences, thoughts, or experiences. Just like other people's experiences might feel totally different from yours, your idea of what's normal might feel entirely foreign to them.

Sure thing! A person residing in suburban Minnesota might have a totally different daily routine compared to someone living in the busiest areas of the Bronx.

So, I chose to write my Common Application essay on my deep-rooted fear of pigeons. It was genuinely me, not focused on a heavy or serious subject, and it still seemed fresh and one-of-a-kind. I mean, not many folks are scared of those chubby gray birds, right?

Of course, writing an essay solely about pigeons would be dull and uninformative. Colleges want to learn about you, not pigeons or any other topic. Keeping that in mind, I made sure to connect my essay to something more meaningful. I admitted my fear of pigeons, even making light of this irrational fear. However, the latter part of my Common Application essay focused on my attempts to face my fear, even if I often failed. This experience provided me with a framework to tackle other fears in various situations.

I began with a particular concept, and then I broadened it until I reached a universal truth—a core principle—that greatly influences my personal philosophy.

While crafting your Common Application essay, keep this in mind too. The most impressive essays usually talk about how a concept or experience influenced your perception of the world, and they also allow space to share how you've used (or plan to use) that understanding in different areas.

Alright, being scared of pigeons isn't exactly a life-shattering tragedy that labels me as a person who's faced a lot of hardships. I'll be honest, I still can't stand those birds, but it's a pretty hilarious fear, isn't it? This just goes to show that you don't need a heart-wrenching tragedy to get into top-notch schools.

Wishing you the best of luck on your application journey! Don't forget to explore our other blog posts for more helpful insights into the college application process. I hope this makes a difference for you!

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Stanford (+19 colleges)

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Stanford (+11 colleges)

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Yale (+20 colleges)

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