You’ve gone through a rough patch and lost some high school friends along the way. Things don’t feel right and you need an outlet to express your angst.
You can write about it in your college essay, you tell yourself. After all, one of the five prompts asks students to recount an incident or time when they experienced failure.
Wrong. Your college essay is not the place to write about how your friends left you high and dry. It’s not meant to be a cathartic exercise for releasing anxieties or a confessional for the things you did wrong. It’s meant to illustrate the part of you that positively sets you apart from the rest and makes you stand out in a flattering light.
Here’s a list of don’ts for your college essay:
- Don’t write about your heartbreak over a relationship that didn’t work out.
- Don’t discuss how you turned into a shoplifter in middle school until your parents caught you.
- Don’t talk about the day your English teacher sent you to detention because you and your best friend wouldn’t stop laughing in the back of the classroom.
- For heaven’s sake, don’t describe the time the narcotics dog sniffed marijuana in your car while it was parked on school grounds.
- Don’t write about how much you love basketball, football, baseball, lacrosse, etc. If you write about a sport, you’d better find an extraordinarily unique angle.
- Don’t write about the night you went out drinking and totaled your parents’ car.
- Don’t write about how you hate your mother/father/sister/brother.
- Don’t admit you put someone at physical risk by being reckless.
- Don’t write about how you walk through life pretending to fulfill a role decided by others. You should have some inkling by now of how you fit into society.
- Don’t write about your cute cat or dog, unless you really have no other story idea. But if that’s the case, you’re in need of a creativity boost.
There’s nothing wrong with writing about failure, or a mistake you made. But it’s important that you can show the experience taught you something or helped you to mature as a result.
Choose your topic wisely.
You have ideas locked inside you. The trick is to unlock the vault and let them flow.
If you’re still searching for an essay topic or want help with editing an essay draft, email the College Essay Confidantè at WinningCollegeEssay@gmail.com.