Questions to consider as you select an essay topic:
• Will the topic I’ve chosen allow me to fully answer the question(s) asked of me? Can I address all points within the word or character limit?
• Will my essay keep the reader’s interest from the very first word?
• Is my topic overdone? If so, you might change your topic. Or you might focus on creating a unique answer to a common topic, which can show your writing skills.
• Will my topic turn off a large number of people? If you are presenting a topic that is controversial, you should acknowledge counterarguments to keep from alienating readers who don’t share your point of view.
• Will an admissions officer remember my topic after a day of reading hundreds of essays?
Using an Essay for Multiple Applications
One or two topics, with small changes, will allow you to answer application questions for many different schools. However, admissions counselors do appreciate essays that provide convincing evidence of your interest in their particular school (you should at least have read the college's webpage, admissions catalog, and have an understanding of the institution's strengths). And be sure not to commit the classic blunder: in an application to College A, it should never say, “These are the reasons why I want to attend College B...” Good proofreading will keep this from happening to you!
Explaining Discrepancies In Your Record
You want to make a positive first impression and showcase your strengths. However, your essay is a chance to explain discrepancies in your record, if you do so carefully. If this is necessary—in order to explain a low grade or an unsatisfactory score on a standardized test—simply give a quick, convincing explanation within the framework of your larger essay.
Stay tuned for Part 3: Writing the Essay!