Topics to Avoid in College Essays

There are certain topics to avoid in college essays. Grandparents is one such topic. Alright, so you’re probably wondering — avoid grandparents? What on earth do you mean? We mean that many college applicants choose to write their college essays as a tribute to their deceased grandparents. It’s a nice gesture. It is. But these kinds of college essays will only hurt your chances for admission to the highly selective colleges of your dreams. And we bet that your grandparents wouldn’t want that for you. They’d rather you not pay tribute to them and — rather — get in! College admissions counselors dread reading essays about deceased grandparents. These essays often say a whole lot about the grandparent and very little about the applicant. And the grandparent isn’t the one applying to the college! The applicant is.

Topics to Avoid in University Essays, Topics to Avoid in College Admissions Essays

There are certain topics — like trips — that should absolutely be avoided in college essays. No writing about trips. Or grandparents. Or sports. Are there exceptions to this rule? Yes. But chances are high that your essay is not the exception to this rule. So take our advice!

In addition to grandparents, students should generally avoid writing about sports. We’ve said this before, but we’ll say it again. Is this a rule that we always stick by? No. Sometimes, our students write incredible essays that involve sports in some way or another. But, generally, sports essays are trite and overdone. Who wants to submit a college essay that blends in with all of the other college essays? Not our students — that’s for sure. So try to avoid sports if you can. There are only so many “I scored the winning goal” or “I gave it my best” essays that a college admissions counselor can read in one lifetime. Heck, they’ve read enough for two lifetimes already.

Another topic to avoid is trips. College admissions counselors don’t want to read about your trips to South Africa, Greece, and Brazil. Writing about trips is not only boring but it can lead to resentment from college admissions counselors. The fact that you — as a teenager — can go on these trips says to them that you’re rich and privileged. Don’t you think that they want to go on trips to foreign countries? Of course they do. But they’re only making about $30,000 a year so this isn’t exactly possible. At all. So don’t rub their noses in your amazing travels. It’s a terrible idea.

Are there other college essay topics to avoid? Absolutely. And we’ll be sharing some more with you soon. For now, avoid these topics! Take our word on it. And while you’re here, check out this newsletter on Avoiding Negativity in College Essays.


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