CommonApp Personal Essay - Percy Jackson and the Olympians
I don't want to sound crazy. I don't want to sound like someone who doesn't have anything to write and so then writes about a random hobby.
I want to sound genuine. I want to be unique in my writing. I want to impress the college admission officers.
It's been a month since I started thinking of my college essay. I was assigned to read accepted college essays from prestigious American universities. I know some people write about really odd things, such as toy cars, beetles, etc. They also write about their unique hobbies, such as growing plants. Somehow, they make those essays work.
Trying to think of a unique topic that defines who I am (my previous topics were math club, being half-deaf, teachings kids, but I thought they were too common), my mind kept on wandering to one of my all-time favourite books, Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
I have a weird passion for that book. Actually, I have a weird passion for the main character. I know a lot of people disagree with my choice because most of my friends are Harry Potter fans, meaning that they keep on comparing Harry Potter to Percy Jackson.
My mind wanders to Percy Jackson whenever I try to think of essay topic. This is obvious for me. I have had an obsession with Percy Jackson since 5th grade. When I get bored at school, I think of Percy Jackson. When someone asks who my type of guy is, I say Percy Jackson. It might sound odd, but Percy Jackson is what makes me unique. While everyone else liked Harry Potter, I liked Percy Jackson (I am a huge fan of Harry Potter as well, not as much as Percy Jackson).
My passion for Percy Jackson got so great, I self-studied Greek Mythology, I tried to learn Greek (I can read Greek, I just don't understand, since it's really hard to self-study and I had to learn Mandarin because of my parents). Even though I'm not a good writer, I wrote a lot of stories myself that I never really published (because I was shy).
I think this episode shows how much I like Percy Jackson. I have a guy friend who I call nearly every time to watch a movie together (by sharing our screens). One day, I sounded so tired and bored. Then, he asked my about random things like type of guy I like (a typical topic for teenagers) because apparently I sounded like I was about to fall asleep. Immediately, I thought of Percy Jackson. I tried not to say anything, because as I grew older, I realized my obsession is too childlish. However, while describing the type of guy I like, I was, at the same time, describing Percy Jackson. Later on, I succumbed to my temptation of telling my friend about Percy Jackson and when I was finished talking (after a hour of rambling on and on), he said "Wow. You know, you're mostly really emotionless and quiet when we talk, but you're really passionate when you're talking about this. I think I found the new you."
I tried not to think about writing this topic since it's so weird, and I don't think I can make my essay sound realistic and impressive by using this topic. However, while reading this essay accepted to an Ivy League school, I realized that person also wrote about his/her passion, which is anime.
I thought, 'Why not?'
Everytime I try to not write that topic, I keep on thinking of that topic. When teachers say, 'Write an essay that defines you, not something that every has. Pick something that made you who you are right now.' I can't help but think of Percy Jackson because that's what I like. I obviously have a lot of things I like. I like music, I like singing, I like math. They are things that other people like as well.
However, I would like to say, I'm not exactly a writer. I've written a lot because I really like writing diaries and stories, but I'm not exactly good. I know that for people like me, if we choose a common topic, we would not sound that fantastic. We don't have a way with words. At the same time, if we choose a weird topic, we might not be able to focus on that single thing and just distract ourselves and talk about completely random things that don't define who we are.
If this topic sounds too absurd, I might just change it to one of my supplemental essays or just not use it at all.
I guess the reason why I am posting this is that I need a third opinion. I want to either just give up on this topic without even trying or maybe try writing and see if it works, depending on what you guys say.
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Everyone has a story about their favorite series. For Percy Jackson, mine would include how I found out I had ADHD (long story short, I borrowed some of my dad's psych textbooks, and he confirmed my theory), and how the series helped me accept the fact that I had a mental illness.
What is your story? Your essay can't just be you showing how big of a fan of the series you are. People do weird stuff for their fandoms. Your essay would need to explain how Percy Jackson led you to where you are today. It needs to explain how the series (or character) led you to discover something about yourself or overcome a challenge.
So what's your story? Why should I care that you like Percy Jackson? Why is a book intended for grades 3-8 (this is not me judging you; I still read Dr. Seuss) so important to a college applicant?
If you can answer those questions, you should write the essay.
Hope that helps! Good luck on your essay!!!
So fun fact I actually named my dog after Hazel from the 2nd PJO series!
First of all do you have a prompt or is it more of just pick a topic?
Assuming it’s pick a topic I’d say it’s a great idea provided you can talk about your personal journey/growth. Essays after all are used as a pseudo personality test. Admission officers don’t want to hear Percy Jackson is such a great charcter due to his fanatical loyalty. I want to be Percy Jackson when I grow up so too can be brave. Instead have it be Percy Jackson is many things including XYZ. Since I’ve read Lightening Thief and how he overcame diffucultlties I’ve used Riordans universe as inspiration for me. Insert ancedote about how you used it.
I will say if done correctly these could be the best sort of common app essays as it’s so orginal. But becuase of how orginal it is there’s more pitfalls for you to stumble in to.
As such compared to other essays have more people give you feedback (such as the peer review). Also you don’t have to be a writer I don’t consider myself a writer but as long as you know what you are trying to do and can write in-depth about a topic then it’s probably better than 20% of other ivies applicants. Also the originality will not so much cover blemishes but direct attention away from the blemishes.
However don’t include inside jokes (like the Hoover Dam cafe jokes) etc as that’s makes it make little sense to people not familiar.
TLDR; I’d say do it if you can include enough personal details but make sure to do more proofing than normal.
Best of luck! Hope this helps and feel free to comment if you’s like clarification as I’d be more than happy to help!
I think it's a great idea to add a story about your hobbies and favorite books to your essay. An essay about yourself should not only contain accurate information about your education and actual skills, but it should reveal you as a person. Feel free to describe the full range of emotions that arise when you mention a particular book or movie. I am sure it will be appreciated properly.
That is perfect!!! Whatever describes your life and distinguishes you from others is perfect! The more unique the better!!
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