Don’t Let Your College Application Essay Topic Get Too Cute!

A GREAT IDEA FOR AN ESSAY, OR IS IT?

Cyrus had a great idea for his college application essay. In answer to Common App Essay Prompt #4 – about an intellectual challenge he’d like to solve – he would write a question mark. That’s it, one giant question mark. For the entire essay.

The more Cyrus thought about this idea, the more he liked it. After all, wouldn’t it demonstrate to colleges that he was a bold, original thinker? It was also memorable and in its own way, hilariously funny. Finally, and probably most importantly, it was conceptual rather than based on content, meaning he wouldn’t have to put any actual work into his application essay.

BOWLING FOR INSPIRATION

One afternoon in late Spring, Cyrus’ school was offering a workshop to give students some help with the college application essay. But instead of attending, Cyrus decided to go bowling.

“Size ten,” Cyrus told the slightly balding guy behind the shoe rental counter.

And then he stopped short. “Say, aren’t you Patrick Murtaugh? A couple of years ago you were like, the smartest guy in the senior class.”

“That’s me,” replied the man. “Do you want the scented disinfectant or the plain?”

“Whatever,” replied Cyrus. “So, if you don’t mind my asking, how’d you wind up… I mean, I thought you were going to be a nuclear physicist, or at least a sports agent.”

“I didn’t get into college,” replied Patrick, expertly spritzing Cyrus’ shoes. “It was because of my college admissions essay.”

“Why? What did you write?”

“Well, I wanted to show I was a bold, original thinker with a great sense of humor. So I wrote my entire essay in Pig Latin.”

“Hey, kinda funny.”

“Yeah, well, the joke was on me. Not one school accepted me and it was downhill from there. Okay, these are ready. Don’t forget to turn them in when you’re finished bowl – “

Cyrus was already out the door, heading for home.

STARTING OVER

Cyrus charged into his house, flipped on his computer, took one look at his question mark application essay, and deleted the file. Then he took a deep breath, pulled up the Common Application essay prompts on his screen, and started to work. It was…

A GREAT MOMENT IN COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAY HISTORY!

SO, WHAT DID WE LEARN ABOUT THE COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAY, TODAY?

While it may be tempting to come up with a gimmick for your college application essay, you are much better served by developing an idea containing a narrative that reveals your values, interests, drive and maturity. Humor is great but tricky approaches can easily backfire. Do the work and you will be rewarded!

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email