August 21, 2009

What sorts of topics are “off limits” or ill-advised?

There are very few topics that are truly off limits, although most admissions officers and readers strongly prefer not to read essays of a sexual or suggestive nature. Extremely controversial topics must be treated very carefully.

Imagine an admissions officer reading hundreds of essays! Your essay is your opportunity to stand out as a person so that the reader places your application at the top of that “admit” pile! Admissions officers want to read about who you are, how you express yourself, and what you have to offer as a potential applicant. If you choose to write about a vacation, camp, baby sitting experiences, social problems with friends, or even the death of a loved one or a divorce, you need to write the essay in such a way that you show how you have grown or what you have learned from the experience.

I have read essays about being too tall or too short, being myopic, training pets, being an only child, middle child, etc., etc. – all of which were written with a strong, catchy lead paragraph, demonstrated good, solid writing skills and sentence structure, and sparkled with personality. The rule of good admissions essay writing is “Show, don’t tell.” And how you write your essay is as important as what you say.

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