Books in College Essays

Books that students love often come up in college essays. And that’s a good thing! Books are a great way to showcase to college admissions counselors your love of learning, your love of reading and discovery (as long as you’re not simply name-dropping books or authors as that gets boring fast). When college applicants write about books, though, they too often write about the same books. And when you write about the same books as everyone else is writing about, it becomes another essay about “The Great Gatsby.”

Books and College Essays, Reading and College Essays, Reading in College Essays

Don't write about "The Hunger Games" in your college essays -- even if you read the books. You'll be one of way too many applicants who do so.

Try to avoid writing about books that are obviously required reading at your high school. People are pretty familiar with the required reading book list because everyone had to read those books when they were in high school. We’ve all read “To Kill A Mockingbird.” We’ve all read “The Grapes of Wrath.” We may not all remember much about the details of these books but we know we’ve read them. We know they’re taught in high school classrooms.

Show how you love to read outside of school. Show how you’re eager to read books that aren’t required reading. But don’t just write about “The Hunger Games” books or the “Twilight” books. Don’t write about “Harry Potter.” Show your thirst for knowledge. Show how you like reading books that you don’t just read because the Lionsgate marketing department tells you that it’s going to be a blockbuster movie franchise. Read a book off the beaten path and show (don’t tell) why you love it and how this sheds insight on what you’re all about.

While you’re here, check out this post: Advice on College Essays.


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