Choice of Topic for Personal Statements

Common App Essay Choice, Personal Statement Topic, Topic for College Essay

Don’t choose a trite topic for a Personal Statement.

The choice of topic for a college applicant’s Personal Statement doesn’t matter so long as the essay is well executed, right? Wrong. The choice of topic for the Personal Statement matters a great deal. After all, admissions officers at highly selective colleges must read thousands of Personal Statements. They also must read thousands of supplemental essays, which are equally as important. So why choose to write the college essay that goes to every school (via the Common App.) on a topic that’s boring? Why choose to write about sports or music or community service? Why choose to write about grandma or grandpa? Or about a trip to another country? Why oh why?

Admissions Officers Suggest Students Can Write Great Essays on Lame Topics

We came across an article up on “US News & World Report” by Kelly Mae Ross entitled “Admissions Officers Discuss 3 Common Essay Topics” in which she states, “A college essay topic doesn’t have to be unique to be a good choice for applicants, experts say.” In fact, this line is right under the article’s title. She goes on to write, “High school students may worry about not having an original topic for their college essay – that anything they write about will be something admissions officers have read countless times before. But admissions deans and directors from several colleges told U.S. News it’s OK if applicants write about a common subject. ‘Overuse of a topic doesn’t make it a bad topic,’ says Whitney Soule, dean of admissions and student aid at Bowdoin College in Maine. How common an essay topic is matters less than a student’s ability to express something about himself or herself.”

Applicants Should Write Great Essays on Great Topics

But we beg to differ. Oh do we. “But, Ivy Coach, an admissions officer can be wrong?” …Duh! Of course admissions officers can be wrong. Did Steve Jobs poll random folks on the street and ask them how he should design the iPhone? No, he most certainly did not. He simply designed the iPhone — and what a job he did. We take the precise same approach with our students’ college essays. We don’t poll admissions officers. We don’t ask them what they’ll love. We give them what they’ll love. We wow them.

Of course how well a student executes a Personal Statement, and any supplemental college essay, matters a great deal. But the choice of topics for essays matters too. Zig when other students zag. An essay about sports isn’t exactly going to stand out no matter how well executed that essay may be. Admissions officers read way too many essays about sports. Another essay about scoring a goal on the soccer pitch? ZZZzzz. Our students at Ivy Coach never write about sports. They never write about music. They never write about their grandparents. They never write about childhood illnesses. They never write about community service activities. They never write about travel.

“So what exactly do your students write about in their essays, Ivy Coach?” Oh loyal readers, you know that’s part of our secret sauce. While we appreciate that you read our college admissions blog and while we do try to give you invaluable insights into the admissions process each and every day, some of our best kept secrets are reserved exclusively for our clients. We are — at the end of the day — a business. We trust you understand.


You are permitted to use (including the content of the Blog) for your personal, non-commercial use only. You must not copy, download, print, or otherwise distribute the content on our site without the prior written consent of Ivy Coach, Inc.


Tags: , , , ,

1 Comment

  • Forrest Ahles says:

    What are services that you offer? For example, just personal statement, supplemental prompts, financial aid assistance, interview assistance, etc. Also, what are the costs?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *