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a year ago
Admissions Advice

Is my common app essay topic cliche?
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My common app essay basically revolves around my realization that my first impressions of things isn't always right and how I came to change this by giving things I usually wouldn't chances and it has improved my life and made me who I am. Im not sure if that's too common of a theme or not but I think if it is I am already using a lot of specific and unique examples to convey it so it would potentially balance it out.

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Accepted Answer
a year ago

This is a very tricky topic because it can easily backfire on you depending on how naive or ignorant you initially were to certain things. For example. Depending on who reads this it's hard to tell what the reaction is. So if you wrote, for example, I grew up in Arkansas and I never met a Jewish person in my life so one day I was in Little Rock for a school trip and met my first Jewish person. I had lots of questions. Nowadays where ever I am I take it upon myself to discover other ethnic/cultural minorities whenever I can. So far I've met a Muslim person, a Jew, a Buddhist, and a Sikh.

So how you frame your epiphanies without offending the application reader from their lens and perspective is critical to have a successful - "I was blind, now I can see" essay. If the application reader is Jewish and you are applying to an NYC university like NYU or Columbia, they might be shaking their heads thinking that you are a country bumpkin with no self-awareness of what you are doing or trying to say. They might conclude that collecting experiences for the sake of collecting them is rather shallow.

Now if you wrote that you started going Temple and learning Hebrew and Yiddish because you were intellectually curious about the Jewish culture that's different. If your thesis is that you want to come to NYC because it's the most popular city for Jews outside of Israel and you want to major in Hebrew Studies, well that's epic.

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a year ago

Hi @mck5nna!

It really depends on the story you want to tell. If you think you'd be able to write about this in a way that is new and interesting — despite its parallels with similar stories of the kind — then you should go for it.

The key to making this essay work is by making it personal. The reader should get a clear sense of who you are, what you value, and how you responded to these situations. Through this connection they should become invested in the story, even if it's a little cliche — consider how many popular movies are just retellings of Shakespeare.

The current synopsis you gave is pretty vague. Try zooming in one story or anecdote that conveys the same message and see what you're able to brainstorm from there.

Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any questions.

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a year ago

There are always cliche themes, but I think what is more important is if you can tell who you are from it, especially if this experience has been a catalyst to what you would like to do now. So, I think the most important question is to ask whether this story is really important in describing who you are today.

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