Be sure to keep your topic, well, top­ical, and within the bounds of rea­son­able dis­course. “While I don’t believe there are any essay topics that are inher­ently bad, it is impor­tant for the stu­dent to keep in mind that they don’t know who will be reading their essay,” says Liz Cheron, Asso­ciate Director for Admis­sions at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity. “If they choose some­thing obscure or related to pop cul­ture, they should make sure to give enough con­text for a reader who may not be familiar with the topic,” she adds. “If they choose to write about some­thing con­tro­ver­sial, they should take an edu­cated stand, rather than what could be seen as an offen­sive stand.” Remember, extreme views, about pol­i­tics or reli­gion, espe­cially, are prob­ably unwel­come at most schools.

It’s crit­ical, as well, to stay focused, even if you are trying to say a lot. “There are mul­tiple dif­ferent avenues you can take. Some essays might be about one topic or event or person, while others weave a com­pelling story about mul­tiple things,” according to Shawn Abbott, Assis­tant Vice Pres­i­dent and Dean of Admis­sions at New York Uni­ver­sity. But, he warns, “The only danger is that the essay is going to be read by admis­sion offi­cers, each with a poten­tially dif­ferent expec­ta­tion for that essay. And they are going to read the appli­ca­tion and essay at a rel­a­tively rapid rate, so you risk losing the atten­tion of the com­mittee if you try to accom­plish too much with one writing sample. It is one writing sample. You’re not expected to tell us about every expe­ri­ence in your life.”


If the admis­sions essay were meant for appli­cants to list all their awards and qual­i­fi­ca­tions, it would be called a resume,” says Northeastern’s Cheron. “The essay is more of an oppor­tu­nity for the appli­cant to share their char­acter, unique pas­sions and inter­ests, and mean­ingful experiences.”

Read the article at Huffington Post →