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How do you find a good Common App essay topic?


I am a senior and I was wondering how I should brainstorm ideas for my Common App essay. I have written many drafts yet none of them makes me stand out ( according to my mentors). How do I find something that is unique to me? I don't want to sound like everyone else. People told me that my experiences were too common.


3 answers

answered on
Accepted answer

It sounds like you have a lot of people providing feedback--that's great, but it can definitely get confusing. I'd say the most important thing is to write about something that really matters to you. You want your topic to really feel like it reflects you. Try and think of some moments when you really felt like YOU and what (activity, person, mindset?) made that possible. Good luck!

Thank you for the advice! I think that I have found something that works!
Great, glad it worked out!
answered on[edited]

You already got some good answers, but I just want to add that most students don't have wildly unique experiences. It's how you write about them that counts - you want to be able to write so that no one else could've written the same essay, even if it's a more common experience. Share your thoughts, feelings, what you observed. That's how you make it unique.

Of course, you still want to avoid cliche topics, unless you can spin them into something unexpected. Cliche topics include: an immigrant's story, sports injury, tragedy, struggling in a class, etc.

These two CollegeVine articles might help:

Let me know if you have more questions!

After attending some college essay sessions, I also discourage writing about COVID, unless it specifically impacted you in a way outside of the norm. My youngest daughter was joking and saying she was going to write about a pumpkin. Thankfully she has a few more years to master this subject for college essays.
Yes, absolutely. We also discourage writing about Covid unless you have a very unique experience, or it's for the "additional information" Covid section on the Common App. And that's so funny! I'm sure it's possible to write a good essay about a pumpkin. People have written essays about Costco before!
Thank you for your help!
answered on

Hi, First of all I feel that I and a lot of other people can relate to this issue. In this case, I feel that you can write about how even these simple everyday elements of your life have helped in shaping the person that you are today. A lot of us don’t have particularly groundbreaking events in our life and I think that is something that admissions officers would understand.

Thank you! I'll make sure to keep this in mind!