Discovering the Essay Topic

Roger’s parents were determined he would write a college application essay that stood out. So they got him essay tutors, sent him to essay workshops, could not get through a family meal without peppering Roger with suggestions for his essay topic. But one day, Roger finally had enough.

His mother burst into his room (always a questionable move with Roger) waving a sheet of paper.

“Here it is, honey. The itinerary for your trip to Haiti.

Essay Topics from a trip?

Not eager to share his obsession with World of Warcraft with his mother, Roger quickly closed the lid of his laptop.

“Who said I’m going to Haiti?”

“Well, we haven’t actually discussed it but this trip is designed specifically for students who want to have something exciting to write for their college admissions essay. They’re going to take you to a remote village in the mountains.”

“What for?”

“You, and seven other high school seniors, are going to clean the village after the mud-valanche – that’s like an avalanche only made out of mud – that buried the village back in April. First you’re going to dig through the mud to uncover the village. Then you’re going to clean the mud out of the village huts. Doesn’t that sound exciting?”

“No! It sounds terrible.”

“Oh, stop. It’s only for five weeks.”

“I’m not doing it, Mom.”

“Roger, we have been through this before. You need to write an outstanding application essay. And you’re not coming up with any good topics on your own.”

“I’ll do it,” Roger insisted. “I’ll find that topic.”

“But when? Every time you’re supposed to work on it, you – “

Discovering the topic

“Okay, how about this? The essay is going to be about hiding in my room, pretending like the future is going to come to me. But then, one day, my mother signed me up for a trip I didn’t want to take and all of sudden I realized I have to take control of my life. If I’m even going to have a future, I need to create it for myself. The moment represents my transition to adulthood and the first step will be writing a great college application essay.”

Roger’s mom stared at him, stunned. “Roger, that’s brilliant!”

“Thank you, Mom. Now can you please get out of my room?”

“Yes, of course. Anything you say.” She offered her fist to bump, which Roger ignored.


Roger’s mom nodded and raced out. Roger smiled after her, and lifted the lid of his laptop. For a brief moment, he was tempted to continue playing World of Warcraft but instead he opened a file and wrote, “College Essay – first draft.” It was…


Discovering your own essay topic

Roger fell into the all too easy trap or procrastination. While some may claim that they write their best under pressure, procrastinating can actually damage your likelihood of acceptance.

So, what did we learn about college application essays today?

Craig’s Law clearly states that “the pain of putting off writing the college application essay is greater than the pain of writing the essay.” There’s pain either way, so you might as well choose the less agonizing path. The time frame for preparing your applications and writing your essays is relatively short, while the results of those few months are long term.  So it behooves the responsible student to make the most of the allotted time and address these tasks with alacrity. Plus, while some students claim they write their best under pressure, few actually do. In total, then, there is nothing to be gained by putting off writing your essays; on the contrary, procrastinating adds to the stress of the entire application process. So go forth and write… today!

For additional information on writing the college application essay, click here. 

Share this post

Related Posts