College Essays: Yellow, Red, Green Flags
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  • 1. In the end, there are no bad topics, just bad essays.However, some topics are TRICKIERthan others – either because they are in bad taste or just cliché. Examples…
  • 2. How you’re so awesomeHow did you get that way? Your essay should make you lookawesome without just saying it.
  • 3. Your High School DramaBecause it makes you look like highschool is your whole life, instead of thinking about college.
  • 4. Your Travel JournalIt can be done well, but you have to show what YOU gained from the experience, not just how cool the places you visited were.
  • 5. Religious or Philosophical ArgumentsFigured out the meaning of life? Great. But don’t preach to theperson who’s reading your essay.
  • 6. Quoting famous peopleMartin Luther King once said… thatstudents should come up with their OWN brilliant words!
  • 7. Making fun of the promptYou can definitely be funny in youressay, but don’t try to turn it into asatire, or be cynical in your essay – colleges won’t want you on their campus.
  • 8. Your Excuses There may be very good reasons that you didn’t perform as well asyou should have in high school – but this should be coming from your advisor. Stay positive in your own essay.
  • 9. Your illegal behaviorEven if you got caught, got punished and learned from the experience… colleges don’t want trouble.
  • 10. Hot-button issues People have strong feelings about topics like abortion, terrorism, guncontrol, police, etc… no matter what you write, you may offend the reader of your essay.
  • 11. Stories outside of high schoolShow that you’re engaged with the larger world!
  • 12. Show how you’ve grownYou may be awesome now, but what key life experience, mentor, or idea did you have which helped you get there?
  • 13. Specific personal detailsYour essay should be so specific that there is no WAY it could belong to anybody else.