6 College Essay Topics to Avoid and What Not to Write About By Unigo College essays hold significant importance in the admissions process as they allow students to express their unique voices. While the application provides essential biographical details, such as test scores and extracurricular activities, the essay offers an opportunity for students to connect with admissions officials on a personal level. However, crafting an exceptional essay has become increasingly challenging. Some prompts now delve into unconventional territories, asking students to explore kitchen gadgets, fictional characters, or draw comparisons between Plato and Playdoh. It is crucial for students to steer clear of controversial, complex, or inappropriate topics during this critical stage. To guide you, here are six college essay topics that should be avoided: 1. Your Bad Behavior: A Lesson Learned Reflecting on past experiences of bad behavior can be valuable for personal growth. However, college admissions professionals are not keen on reading about drug use, jail time, promiscuity, high school pranks, bullying, or any similar negative behaviors. Admissions staff seeks to foster a safe campus environment, and discussing illegal or unwanted actions will not work in your favor. 2. Your Travel Diary: Beyond Sightseeing Traveling and immersing oneself in different cultures can foster maturity, experiences, and a well-rounded perspective. If you participated in an abroad community service project, such as building an orphanage in Haiti, it would be appropriate to share that experience. However, avoid writing solely about superficial aspects like the beauty of Paris or the beaches of Mexico. 3. Your Excuses: Owning Up to Challenges Using the essay as an opportunity to explain a semester of failing grades or to blame external circumstances is not advisable. Such topics often come across as excuses, leaving a negative impression on the college. If you have a legitimate reason behind a dip in grades, like illness or a parents’ divorce, consider having your high school counselor provide a short supplement to explain the situation. 4. Your Best Jokes: Balance Humor with Substance Humor can be an effective tool in engaging the reader, but your essay shouldn’t solely revolve around showcasing your comedic abilities. Instead, use your wit and humor in an essay focused on a different topic that allows you to convey your personality effectively. 5. Religious or Political Lectures: Respectful Dialogue Topics such as capital punishment, abortion, or gun control are inherently divisive due to their controversial nature. Keep in mind that the person reading your essay may hold different beliefs and may not appreciate being lectured to. It is important to foster respectful dialogue rather than impose personal viewpoints. 6. Your Great Accomplishments: Show Humility and Perspective While your essay should highlight your achievements, it should not become a self-absorbed, arrogant piece centered solely on boasting. The application provides space to list community service and extracurricular activities, so avoid reiterating these accomplishments as if composing a resume. If you have genuinely performed an act of heroism or saved someone’s life, it may be worth sharing. However, if your achievement is winning a state football game, it is best to keep it to yourself unless it requires further explanation or expansion. Conclusion Crafting a captivating college essay requires careful consideration of the topics to avoid. By steering clear of controversial, inappropriate, and clichéd subjects, you can showcase your unique qualities, experiences, and aspirations effectively. Remember to maintain professionalism, offer fresh perspectives, and engage the reader through thoughtful storytelling. The college essay provides an invaluable opportunity to make a lasting impression on admissions officials and present your authentic self as a deserving candidate for their institution. About the author Jolyn Brand is the Owner & Director of Brand College Consulting. She has 8 years of college counseling experience as well as being a Certified English, ESL and Special Ed teacher. Jolyn offers Unigo Sessions on Getting In, Paying For It, and College Life.