College Essays: Choosing Topics That Impress Admissions

college admissions college applications college essay Jan 29, 2024
College Essays: Choosing Topics That Impress Admissions

3 Key Takeaways

  • Personalization is Key: The college essay is a critical component of your application, offering a unique opportunity to showcase aspects of yourself not evident in your resume, transcript, or test scores. It's essential to choose a topic that reveals your personal story, strengths, and potential contributions to the college community.
  • Voice and Authenticity Matter: Ensuring the essay is written in your own voice is paramount. Colleges can discern when essays are overly polished or authored by others, potentially undermining your application's authenticity.
  • Focus on Contribution and Character: Instead of dwelling on challenges or obstacles, unless they significantly define your character, focus on how your talents and experiences position you to contribute to the college community in meaningful ways.


In our series on acing college admissions, a critical component often emerges as a daunting challenge for many students and parents alike: the college essay. At Anja Education Consultants, we understand the weight this single piece of writing carries, serving as a unique window into an applicant's personality, values, and aspirations. Today, we delve into the nuances of selecting the perfect essay topic and what admissions readers are truly seeking—a narrative that transcends grades and extracurriculars to reveal the person behind the application.

The Essence of Personalization

The personal statement stands as a window into your soul for admissions staff, offering a glimpse of what lies beyond the quantifiable aspects of your application. "It has to reveal something that is not evident in your resume, in your transcript, in your test scores," I often tell my students. This requirement underscores the necessity for the essay to be deeply personal, guiding you to introspect and identify unique facets of your character and life experiences that colleges should know about.

Starting Your Journey

The quest for the perfect essay topic can be paralyzing. Yet, the key is not to focus on finding the 'ideal' topic but to reflect on the personal stories you wish to share. "What are the things about me that I want colleges to know about?" This question should be your beacon as you brainstorm, transitioning from ideation to crafting your narrative. Remember, the process is as significant as the end product, allowing for refinement and depth to emerge organically.

Authenticity Over Perfection

A pivotal piece of advice I offer is the importance of maintaining your voice throughout the essay. The temptation to have it written or heavily edited by adults can backfire, leading to essays that lack authenticity or, worse, are flagged by admissions staff for being too polished or adult-authored. Your essay should be a reflection of your strengths and how you envision contributing to the college community, resonating with genuine insight rather than a showcase of adult intervention.

Telling Your Story

The narrative you choose to convey should align with your values and achievements, not as a list, but as a story that illustrates your character and aspirations. "It's more about telling a story," is a mantra worth embracing. This approach shifts the focus from mere achievements to the impact and contribution you aim to make within the college community.

Navigating Personal Topics

While personal stories, including overcoming significant obstacles or addressing mental health issues, can be powerful, they require careful consideration. The line between sharing meaningful aspects of your journey and potentially raising concerns about your readiness for college life is thin. Instead, framing your experiences around your talents, resilience, and how you can enrich the campus community can be more constructive.


As we navigate the complexities of college admissions, the essay remains a beacon of individuality in a sea of standardized applications. It's not just about what you've achieved but who you are and how you can contribute to the tapestry of the college community. At Anja Education Consultants, we pride ourselves on guiding students to not only find their unique voice but to amplify it in a way that resonates with admissions committees. Remember, the goal is to reveal the authentic you, highlighting how your unique experiences and aspirations align with the college's values and opportunities.

In closing, remember that the college essay is your stage, a moment to shine and share the richness of your story. It's an invitation to the admissions committee to glimpse your world and the potential you bring. Embrace this opportunity with both hands, and may your journey to college be as enriching as the stories you choose to share. We at Anja Education are here to illuminate your path, ensuring your narrative not only resonates but also leaves a lasting impression.

I look forward to connecting with you soon and embarking on this exciting journey together.



Video Transcription

Anjali Maazel

Anjali Maazel

Founder and CEO of Anja Education Consultants

At Anja Education Consultants, we pride ourselves on the exceptional expertise of our Founder and CEO, Anjali Maazel. With over 15 years of experience as an alumna interviewer for Princeton University, our team, led by Anjali, brings a wealth of knowledge in college admissions. Our interdisciplinary approach, which melds arts, international education, and public relations, allows us to provide unparalleled guidance in college planning. The cornerstone of our success is the proprietary Talent Development 3D Process™, a unique strategy that has achieved a remarkable 100% success rate in securing admissions for our clients to at least one of their top three preferred schools. As a respected Ted Talk speaker and a sought-after authority in college admissions, we are frequently invited by high schools across the globe to share our insights and strategies, empowering students to reach their full potential in the competitive world of college admissions.
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