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					                                              College Essay Topics

Type A: Tell us about yourself – a personal statement

Yale: “We are interested in anything of importance to you that will help us better understand you: your abilities,
your background, your interest, your aspirations.”

Brown: “In reading and evaluating your application we hope to gain as complete a picture of you as is possible,
but our knowledge of you is limited to the information provided us. Why not, then, use this opportunity to tell
us about anything you think we should know…”

Dartmouth: “If you were to describe yourself by a quotation, what would that quote be? Explain your answer.”

Smith: “Why do you think our college is a good place for you?”

Peace: “Identify specific ways in which you could enrich the Peace College campus in the following areas:
academics, community leadership, and spiritual development.”

UNC-Chapel Hill: “How is the person you know yourself to be different from the person your family and
friends know you to be?”

High Point: “Please provide a personal statement descriptive of one of the following topics – 1. Your most
significant achievement; 2. Your most meaningful experience; 3. Your career goals; 4. Your greatest concern(s).

Elon: “Please submit an essay (250-500 words) on a topic of your choice or on one of the topics listed below or
you may submit a graded essay of 250-500 words from a course taken your junior or senior year. Suggested
topics: 1. Present a person who has had a significant influence on you and describe that influence. 2. Evaluate a
significant experience, achievement or risk you have taken and describe the impact on you.”

Shaw: “Write a brief essay about yourself in your own handwriting.”

UNC-W: “Submit a one-page personal statement. Use this opportunity to tell the committee more about
yourself (interests, talents, achievements, life experiences, goals or values and beliefs, etc.). You may attach an
essay you wrote for another school, but please let us know what the original topic was.

Guilford: “Discuss an obstacle you have overcome in your life. What change did you make? What did you
learn?”

College of Charleston: “Tell us about something unique that you will bring to the College of Charleston.”

College of Charleston: “Tell us how the College of Charleston will help you reach your academic, professional,
and personal goals.”

“How do you expect our college to affect your growth as an individual?”

“Tell us why you want to come here.”

“Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, or risk you have taken and its impact on you.”

“Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you and describe that influence.”

“Please write on a topic of your choice.”
Type B: Tell us about an interest or idea

Colby: “Discuss any reading you have done recently which has been particularly meaningful to you and tell
why.”

Amherst: “Describe an intellectual experience of the past two years that has given you great satisfaction.”

Dartmouth: “Which activity in or out of school is most meaningful to you? Why?”

NCCAT: “A common cliché alludes to the fact that people learn from their mistakes. What has been the
greatest failure of your life? What have you learned from this experience?”

Trinity: “Early in the century, John Dewey, philosopher and educator, wrote, „It does not pay to tether one‟s
thoughts to the past or use too short a rope.‟ Do you agree or disagree? Why?”

Emory and Henry: “Describe your favorite class or pastime. Explore why it is important to you. What personal
relationships have you developed as a result of it? Feel free to attach examples of your creativity.”

Cornell: “Please define your current personality with anecdotes from your childhood.”

UNC-Chapel Hill: “It is often said that students learn as much form each other as they do in the classroom. If
you could recommend one work of fiction to your UNC classmates, what would you ask them to read and
contemplate? Explain your selection.”

Harvard: “Describe an accomplishment that was important to you but went unnoticed.”

College of Charleston: “In your opinion, what was the best invention of the 20th century and why?”

Wake Forest: Complete the following two essays: 1. What is your academic passion; 2. Discuss a work of art
which hold particular meaning for you.

Guilford: “What local, national, or international issue are you most passionate about? Give specific examples
of your activities related to this issue in which you participate.”

UNC-Chapel Hill: “If you were president of the United States for a day, what one policy – whether serious or
semi-serious – would you implement? Why?”

“Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.”

“Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc) that has had
an influence on you and explain that influence.”
Type C: Show us your imaginative side

University of PA: “If you were given the opportunity to spend an evening with any one person, living,
deceased, or fictional, whom would you choose and why?”

Swarthmore: “Imagine the year is 1881. You may expect to live for another thirty-five years. What person
would you most want to know well during that time? For what reason?”

Princeton: “Tell us about an opinion that you have had to defend or an incident in your life that placed you in
conflict with the beliefs of a majority of people and explain how this affected your value system.”

MIT: “Make up a question that is personally relevant to you, state it clearly, and answer it. Feel free to use your
imagination, recognizing that those who read it will not mind being entertained.”

Duke: “Please describe an experience that led you to question your values or change one of your strongly held
opinions. How did you change as a result of the experience?”

Duke: “John Keats said, „Even a proverb is no proverb to you till your life has illustrated it.‟ Please tell us about
an experience in your own life which illustrated a proverb, maxim, or quote that has special meaning to you.”

Guilford: “If you were locked in a bookstore for a night, in which section would you spend most of your time?
Why?”

Vanderbilt: “How is lying typically justified in our society? Under what circumstances would lying be
acceptable to you? Why?”

University of PA: “Write page 217 of your 300-page autobiography.”

University of Chicago: “Describe your most memorable meal.”

Stanford: “Attach a small photograph (3.5 x 5 inches or smaller) of something important to you and explain its
significance.

Stanford: “If, for a period of time, you could live the life of any individual (fictional or non-fictional), who
would you choose? How does this choice reflect who you are?

Guilford: “If you were the principal at your high school, what issue at your school would be the most important
to you? What changes would you make to improve the situation?”

College of Charleston: “What is your favorite quote and why?”

UNC-Chapel Hill: “The memoir has become an increasingly popular genre among American writers. For
example, Carolina‟s own Charles Kuralt named his Life on the Road; Mia Hamm called hers Go for the Goal: A
Champion’s Guide to Winning in Soccer and Life. If you were to write a memoir that covered your life from
birth through high school, what would you choose for your title? Why?”

				
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