Standard College Essay Topics:

1. Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
2. Discuss some issue of personal, local, national or international concern and its importance to you.
3. Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.
4. Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.
5. A range of academic interests, personal perspectives and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.


You may view several sample college essays at

Another helpful site that includes samples and tips is at

College Essay Writing Process (notes from The College Board)

1. Prewriting - brainstorm and make a list of your strengths and outstanding characteristics. Focus on strengths of personality, NOT things you have done. For example: you are responsible (not an "Eagle Scout). If you keep drifting toward events rather than characteristics, make a second list of the things you have done. Next, create a self-outline. Next to each trait, list five or six pieces of evidence from your life that prove that point. Finally, find patters and connections. For example: does your passion for numbers show up in your performance in the state math competition and your sumer job at the computer store?

2. Drafting - Write your essay in three basic parts: introduction, body and conclusion. The introduction gives your reader an idea of your essay's content. The body presents the evidence that supports your main idea. Use narration. Show rather than tell. The conclusion can be brief. Nail down the meaning of the events and incidents you have described.

Note: There are three basic essay styles to consider: standard essay, less-is-more essay and the narrative essay.

A. Standard Essay - Take two or three points from your self-outline, give a paragraph to each and make sure to provide plenty of evidence.
B. Less-Is-More Essay - Focus on a single interesting point about yourself. It works well for brief essays of a paragraph or half a page.
C. Narrative Essay - This tells a short and vivid story. Omit the introduction, write one or two narrative paragraphs that grab and engage the reader's attention, then explain what this story reveals about you.

3. Editing - Find and correct any errors. Get someone to give you feedback! Your language should be simple, direct and clear. This is a personal essay, not a term paper. Make every word count.