What Are Some Examples of Cliché College Essay Topics

Posted: August 7, 2018

Unfortunately, many students choose to write their college essays on the same few, tired topics. Please avoid these!

  1. How I won the big game (or “how I lost the big game and then worked and worked and worked on my skills until I won the next one—yay me!”)
  2. I traveled the world/did some community service and found out that people are the same all over.

  3. My Eagle/Gold Award project made me a better person.

  4. I did community service and now I really want to help people in my life.
  5. My adult relative was such an amazing person! (where the essay is only about the relative, not about the student)

  6. Behold the plethora pronouncements I envision! I'm a sesquipedalian!

  7. Let me tell you about the biggest challenge I've ever faced: learning how to parallel park
  8. The “tell us when you challenged an idea” prompt on Common App leads many students to a “the time I stopped listening to my religious leaders” or “the first time I stood up to my parents” story

  9. Describing your bedroom as a metaphor for who you are/what is important to you (which leads to a lot of telling rather than showing, ironically)

  10. A narrative version of your resume or activities list

  11. Anything in five-paragraph persuasive essay format

These topics can be effective if handled correctly. For example, the famous Costco essay from a couple years ago is basically a “describe your bedroom” essay with an interesting twist. Focusing your writing on something extremely specific and personal can elevate one of these cliché topics into a more effective essay, but it’s best to find a fresher way to introduce yourself to the admissions committee.

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