3 months ago
Admissions Advice

Is writing about youth and how it led to realizations regarding regret I currently have too cliche?

I moved here from India 3 years ago and the place I grew up is extremely important to me. I really want to write about that but since I'm Asian American, an immigrant story would be too cliche. I want guidance to see if the essay theme I'm currently going for (the question above) is cliche or can be unique?

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2 answers

Accepted Answer
3 months ago

This is a great question -- and one we see variations of all the time, so hopefully this will help someone else, too!

Another poster already posted a great response, but I want to give my answer as well. As you noted, the story of moving to the US and the challenges that incurs is a popular topic for college essays. It's one many admissions officers have seen time and time again with little variation. That does not mean it is not a meaningful or worthwhile story to tell or that something that made up so much of your experience and identity as of late is boring or lacking in significance; it simply means that it is not a wholly unique experience, and this makes it difficult to stand out in a field as competitive as college admissions.

It is much easier to be noticeable (in a positive way) if you write about something slightly more original or unique to you, even if you convey the same overall messages. Therefore, I would try to shift the focus from the story of your immigration and center it more on the individual experiences that caused the epiphanies you mention in your question. Perhaps open on the moment you realized something about your past, then go back and explain where that regret came from and what you've done to process and learn from it. This is less of a general "immigrating to the US was difficult" and more of a personal narrative that stems from your individual experience.

In short, any topic, no matter how overdone, can be executed well and noticed by a reader if it is done superbly and uniquely. If you find that your story is original and that your telling of it is exceptionally strong, then choosing a "cliché" premise will not be a death knell for your essay or overall application. Otherwise, steer clear of the topic (or at least reimagine it) in order to give yourself the best possible chance at success.

Wishing you the best of luck!

3 months ago

See, I am no essay expert and I'm pretty sure someone more qualified will answer this post soon. I'll just give my two cents.

From what I think and what I've heard a lot of essay experts say-

The admission officer will probably have already read the topic you're going to write your essay about. So unless you're way too specific and particular about "uniqueness", chances are that the admission officer will have already read about that topic. That being said, it's considerably harder to make an Asian-American immigrant story stand out. (Because it's SO COMMON)

Coming back to the question, I don't think the topic you chose is very cliché. While not cliché, the essay will heavily depend on how you execute it. Writing about your regrets in a college essay might not be a good idea unless you can steer it in your favour (that would require killer execution).

So, if you're confident that you'll be able to execute and finish the essay well and will be able to show some of your qualities and characteristics from the essay (something which might make the admission officer want you in their school), then go ahead and do it.

(Please take my advice with a pinch of salt since I'm not an expert in this).


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