Creative College Essay Topics for Ivy League Admission
Here at AdmissionSight, we know that the essay-writing process of the greater college application process can be a stressful one. Many students have a hard time finding ways to write about their passions and achievements without coming off as self-inflated or self-involved. Because of that, many students tend to end up writing an essay that is a bit more bland.
But that really is one of the worst ways to go when it comes to writing your college essays. Truthfully, finding unique college essay topics is the best way to approach this important task. For that reason, we have decided to break down a number of creative essay topics with the hopes of inspiring and encouraging any high school student out there who is wringing their hands trying to find the right topic for them.
But first, let’s break down some crucially important aspects of every successful college essay.
What makes for a good college essay topic?
No matter what kind of essay you end up wanting to write, there are going to be some important factors that will play a role in whether or not the essay is a successful one. Before, during and after the entire process of crafting your essays, you should be asking yourself the following questions and making the following considerations. This will help you feel as confident as possible that you are making the right choice when it comes to topic, writing style and more!
Question 1: Is it specific to me?
As you are crafting your topic and get started on writing your essay, you are going to want to make sure that you are writing about something that is specific to you as a person and as a student. Truly, the essay should serve as an opportunity for you to put yourself out there in the hope that the readers connect to you and feel even more convinced that you belong at their school.
Nobody goes into reading a personal essay hoping that it will be bland, general and apply to almost anyone. After all, as the brilliant quote from psychologist, humanist and Columbia University alumni Carl R. Rogers goes, “What is most personal is more universal.” That basically means that the deeper you go into what makes you tick and what you care about as a person, the more likely it is that someone on the reading end of your essay is going to connect with it on a personal level.
Think about the things that have had the biggest impact, experiences that changed you, relationships that fulfilled you, times that challenged you and moments where you felt yourself becoming a better version of yourself.
Question 2: Does it show who I am?
Are you starting to sense a theme here? The truth is that when we work with our students at AdmissionSight, we really stress just how important it is to use the essay as a chance to show the admissions officers at the many schools that you are applying to who you are as a person. While your grade point average, your test scores and your extracurriculars are going to play a major role in what schools you get into, admissions officers are ultimately most focused on who they will be sending out letters of acceptance to rather than what grades and scores they are looking for.
Ultimately, you want to have the whole package, and that is especially true when you are applying to Ivy League schools. And focusing on a personal statement that reveals who you are is a major part of being that whole package.
Coming up with a real and honest topic will help you leave an unforgettable and positive mark on the college admissions officers who are lucky enough to get your application on their desk!
Question 3: Is the topic meaningful to you?
Believe us, if a student ends up trying to write cookie-cutter types of personal essays, the readers in the admissions offices all over the country will be able to tell. As a bonus, trying to tie in a personal experience or moment of growth to why you want to pursue a specific line of study and work will come off incredibly well.
For example, talk about the first time you truly understood the impact that community organizing, or public policy can have on a group of people. Or talk about the first time you played a videogame that opened your eyes to the opportunity to build platforms and worlds through computer science and coding.
You also want to make sure that you are staying away from the tempting option to choose a topic just because you think it will make you sound impressive. Admissions officers have incredibly trained eyes and will very easily be able to see right through this. Moreover, it is never a good idea to exaggerate events in your life, if it truly wasn’t all that meaningful to you just because you think that it may be a good essay topic.
Question 4: Is it unique?
There is a little dance that people have to play when it comes to writing personal essays. You want to stand out, but don’t want to seem like you are exaggerating. You want to show who you are, but don’t want to come off as self involved. It’s quite difficult to balance all these things, but that is precisely why colleges and universities ask students to do it. They know what they are doing when they offer up this challenge to young, brilliant and passionate minds!
Another question that you should be adding to this challenging process is making sure that the essay that you want to write, are writing or have written is unique!
Keep in mind that admissions officers go through literally thousands of applications each application season. This can serve as a pretty daunting reality for students to try to stand out, but it can also serve as a really fantastic opportunity! Just think about how wonderful it would feel to be a student who truly was able to stand out based on their application essay. You have the chance to do just that, and being unique in the way that you craft your essay is a great way to do it.
There is a wrinkle to this that is crucially important to understand, however. Most people will understand the need for a unique essay meaning that they need to surround the topic around a unique or rare experience. That isn’t true at all! Some of the best essays we have ever helped our students craft end up being a unique and fresh take on some of the more mundane, common and universal experiences in daily life.
For example, something as trivial as trying to train yourself how to run a five-minute mile could ultimately turn into an essay about goal-setting, perseverance, self-reliance, physical and mental health, failure, success and so much more! You can use something very simple to talk about some of the greatest questions and challenges that we all face in life. The opportunities are truly endless!
Question 5: Does it answer the question?
This may be the last question that we will go over in this article, but it is absolutely not the least important! Above all, you have to be sure that you are actually addressing and answering the question that the school provided you in the prompt.
Even if your essay is truly brilliant when it comes to subject matter, form and format, if you fail when it comes to addressing the prompt itself, it is not going to have as positive of an impact as it otherwise could. Therefore, it is crucial that you ask yourself whether or not the essay topic addresses the question or questions in the prompt before, during and after the writing process.
The best way to make sure you are doing this is by reading and rereading the prompt as you start to formulate your topics. Another really useful way to make sure you fully understand the prompts that you are being provided is to sit down with a family member, friend, high school counselor, or college admissions consultant and discuss the prompts in a conversational manner.
Creative college essay topics to inspire your Ivy application
Now that you have grappled with some of the most important questions and considerations when it comes to crafting a fantastic college admission essay, let’s go over some creative essay topics that we have compiled to help get your brain going.
As a fun exercise for you, you may also want to consider thinking about what kind of prompt would inspire such a topic to be crafted by the student. It is important to remember that the essay section of the college application process truly gives you a chance to be creative and have fun!
If you have fun and fully invest in the process, that spirit will absolutely shine through when the college admission officers are reading along.
Topic 1. A boy loses his dog
In this essay, a student would likely go through the emotionally trying experience of losing their loving pet dog. It would deal with loss, love, and the determination to try to reconnect with the missing animal.
As you can see, this is a fairly mundane experience, but the focus and approach the student took to this essay could make it a real winner!
Topic 2. How traveling led to my love of learning language
This is an important kind of topic to consider, because the “travel” essay topic is an easy one to fall into. A lot of students end up writing about travel. And while that is not necessarily a bad thing, students who want to talk about their worldly travels should also talk about things they actively did as a result. Writing about visiting the Louvre in Paris is not exciting. However, talking about visiting France and going on to teach yourself conversation French is certainly an impressive topic!
Topic 3. My grandmother’s dumplings
This is a wonderful essay topic for another reason. For one, it allows the student writing the essay to discuss their unique and meaningful culture and how it has helped them form their own self-identity. It also allows them to talk about how culture and identity changes from one generation to the next.
We can surmise that the student is writing about their relationship with their grandmother, and the incredible homemade dumplings that their grandmother makes. Something as simple as learning a family recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation offers ample opportunity for a student to talk about who they are, what they value and what they want to do with their lives after high school.
Topic 4. My last Instagram post
There is no question at all that the high school students in this day and age are dealing with a whole new set of challenges that generations before them ever had to deal with. Those mostly come from the invention of social media networks. If a student decided to walk away from one or more of the highly popular social media networks, like Instagram, going into how and why they were able to come to that conclusion could make for a really fantastic college application essay.
It offers the writer the opportunity to write about society, social pressure, sense of self, insecurity, creating healthy values and so much more.
Topic 5. Where I feel most at home
Going to university offers a major life moment for every student who steps on campus. For the most part, many of these students will be spending the first real time away from their home. Because of that, it is always a good idea to bring that sense of change and evolution to a college essay.
A great way to approach this topic of change and evolution is by talking about where you feel most at home – either physically, spiritually, or both – and trying to unpack why it is you feel that way. This can open the door for students to talk about who they are, what they value, what they look for in people and communities and more!
There is no perfect college essay
Just from these five essay topics, chances are good that you are realizing that there truly is no “right” or “wrong” topic that you can choose. What matters most is that the student writing the essay approaches the entire process with the attitude of trying to craft the most personal, honest and effective essay.
With all the pressure that comes with applying to colleges – especially when those schools are within the highly competitive and prestigious Ivy League – can definitely be a bit paralyzing for some young men and women.
The things that are at stake when someone is truly determined to get into an Ivy League or top-10 school can end up encouraging some students to want to play it safe by writing something that they think the admissions officers at the schools they are applying to will be impressed by. But a high school student’s job when writing a personal essay is never to try to impress the reader.
If there is anyone they should really be trying to impress, it’s themselves. Set out to write something that you are truly proud of and happy with and you will not go wrong.
Need help getting into your dream college?
Here at AdmissionSight, we are big believers that the personal essay can play a major role in a student realizing their admissions dreams. If you are looking for help on your college applications and much more, reach out to us today to set up a free consultation so we can help you get into the schools of your dreams.