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Posted October 13, 2015 by
Tags: The Liberal Arts My Wheaton

Choosing a Topic for Your College Admissions Essay 

 

I can remember my angst toward writing a college application essay. It felt like I was being asked to sum up the whole of my existence in 500 words. Colleges wanted to know: what makes me stand out from other applicants?

That’s a pretty scary question. So I decided to answer an easier, more subjective question: what excites you? Here are three tips on how to make that question work:

1) Brainstorm things that motivate you to go an extra mile.

My father once told me that life is a lot easier if you spend it doing something you like. I enjoyed Biology a lot in high school, so I shadowed doctors, observed surgeries, and volunteered in hospitals. I thought being a doctor and solving biological issues would be fun for me, so I pursued science. Anything that brings you joy is worth doing.

2) Leave room for imagination.

The essay is your time to shine. The danger is to write an essay about what you want to do vocationally. By writing an essay about an end goal (i.e. a job), you put limitations on yourself. Instead, write about what excites you. If you write an essay about what excites you, it leaves room for imagination. If you like something, declare that you like it. Much of higher education is driven by the motivation to get a good job, but at Wheaton College there is a bigger focus on becoming a life-long-learner. The emphasis is more on the “Life of The Mind.” Francis Collins, the brilliant scientist, Christian, and head of the famed Human Genome Project, had no idea what he wanted to “do” in life. However, he did know he enjoyed chemistry. So, he studied chemistry.

3) Explore not who you are, but who you want to become.

When I wrote my college essays, I explored not who I was, but what I wanted to become. To do well in college you need to enjoy what you are doing or else you will get burnt out. Write about something you believe in, not something that will resemble another student’s essay. Be distinctive by being honest. Be authentic rather than striving to be unique.

Jeff Camp ’18 is a sophomore from St. Louis majoring in chemistry. In his free time, he enjoys photography and coffee brewing. To apply to Wheaton College or to refer a student, visit the admissions website.