Common Topics in Personal Essays for College Applications

In most colleges and universities, applicants are asked to write their personal essays as part of their application. There are up to six subjects to choose from and here are what you should do to create them.

A significant personal event and its impact on you – Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk, or dilemma your have faced and its impact on you. It is not just about describing something, but exploring the complexity of the issue. You need to show the depth of your critical thinking as you examine the “impact on you.” Try not to write about a winning touchdown or a tie-breaking goal, as it has an off-putting, bragging tone to it and does little about self-evaluation.

A concern and its importance to you – You can also write about an issue–whether it is personal, local, national, or international in scope–but do not forget that the heart of the essay is about the importance of such issue to you. It is not just about an endless rant about global warming, but you need to convey your character, passions, and abilities in the essay.

A person with significant influence on you – A good essay about this topic is more than just describing the influence from that significant person. You need to dig deep and analyze, handling your essay with care. Writing about how your Mother/ Father/ Sibling is a great role model sounds too easy, so you need to look through other significant people you have personally met whose influence are not necessarily positive.

A fictional character, historical figure, or creative work and its influence on you – This option is similar to the third option, only that it involves people and things outside your personal circle. You really need to analyze the character or creative work, emphasizing on what makes them so powerful and influential.

What you will contribute to the diversity in the college community – Using your personal background, you are asked to describe an experience that shows what you would bring to the university’s diverse community or a personal event that demonstrates the importance of diversity to you. Note that “diversity” is defined broadly, so it is not just about race or ethnicity–although it can be.

A topic of your choice – Sometimes you have a story that does not apply to any of the subjects above. However, writing an essay about a topic of your choice does not give you the free reign to write about a comedy or a poem. (You can submit those through the “Additional Info” option.) Remember that freestyle essays still need to have substance and tell the admissions officer something about you.

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