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superpony123
Nov. 26, 2009, 08:22 PM
Well, to be honest? I DON'T want to write about horses. It would end up being too technical, and I wouldn't be able to explain things in the best manner possible.

So, what are some non-horse ideas to write about?? roughly half of the colleges I'm applying to are not Common App and some of those don't even want an essay (woo!), and I'm not too sure if Im a fan of any of the common app questions, either--i have the option of writing one of my own subject for common app though, which is what I'd like to do. The question is---WHAT?

HELP!

sickofcollege
Nov. 26, 2009, 09:07 PM
I wrote about a personal struggle I was able to overcome. It turned out well for me. Although, essay writing is a huge pain the behind! I managed to finish mine within 10 minutes of the due time. Note: I wrote the essay in 45minutes and submitted it directly, thanks to writers block.

All turned out well!

kateh
Nov. 26, 2009, 09:18 PM
My best recommendation to you is to write about what you care about. If you're going to write your own unprompted essay, make sure it's about something that matters to you. If you care, it'll show.

SarahandSam
Nov. 26, 2009, 09:56 PM
The common thread for just about all application essay topics is that they want you to write about something significant in your life and how it's affected who you are. You can write about horses, but focus on what life lessons you've learned, how it's made you a better person, etc. I tell my seniors (I do college app writing as their first project of the year) to think about what character trait they want to stress: determined, motivated, creative, etc., and explain how that significant experience/person/event/etc. helped shape them into that character trait.

Good luck!

Not So Practical Horse(WO)man
Nov. 26, 2009, 09:57 PM
I wrote about a physical attribute and how it influenced my life. For me, it was my incredible height. I pulled the inspiration from The Tall Book by Arianne Cohen and a essay that got a kid into Harvard when he wrote about his curly hair.

If your gonna pull inspiration from somewhere else, make sure it is truly original. And please DO NOT write about a personal struggle unless you have something very moving to write about. I read way too many of my classmates essays whining about how their boyfriend dumped them or they felt fat or how they had to move to a new high school with new people. Boo hoo. Don't be ashamed you have nothing "cool" to write about. You're young. consider yourself lucky that you don't.

Abbeyroad1791
Nov. 26, 2009, 10:11 PM
I feel like I've commented on all these threads, but I like saying the same thing over and over ;) At the age of 18, very few kids have had really meaningful things to write about in their lives. All colleges want to see is that you know how to write. Be creative, use your imagination. You can talk about something that made you think/see things differently ie a person, event etc. but it doesn't have to be something mind boggling.

I wrote a stream of conscious type essay giving various random facts about myself. Things that you wouldn't really know about someone unless you know them well, and arn't necessarily incredibly important, but are indicative of your personality and writing style. I also have a friend who bought the big kindergarten type paper with the dotted line in the middle, picked up a crayon, and wrote all about why he wanted to go to Yale, with multiple spelling errors and letters written backwards. Granted, he's basically a genius, but you should be creative and different with your essay. Don't write the same old college essay that every other kid is going to send in! Good luck!!

HelloAgain
Nov. 26, 2009, 11:04 PM
My best recommendation to you is to write about what you care about. If you're going to write your own unprompted essay, make sure it's about something that matters to you. If you care, it'll show.
Eh, everyone says this, but I think it's overrated.

Of all the schools I applied to, the two where I was admitted were the ones in which my essay was quite insincere. I didn't lie about any actual facts, but the emotions associated with it were fiction.

I have no explanation for this except that possibly it gave me the distance to put my best writing forward. However I have no natural flair for fiction, so I don't know.

ETA: Possibly this made me enduringly cynical about the whole college application process.

fargaloo
Nov. 26, 2009, 11:19 PM
This should give you some ideas...

http://saunderslog.com/2005/11/21/hugh-gallagher-man-of-many-talents/

"This is an actual essay written by a college applicant. The author, Hugh Gallagher, now attends NYU.

3A. ESSAY: IN ORDER FOR THE ADMISSIONS STAFF OF OUR COLLEGE TO GET TO KNOW YOU, THE APPLICANT, BETTER, WE ASK THAT YOU ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTION: ARE THERE ANY SIGNIFICANT EXPERIENCES YOU HAVE HAD, OR ACCOMPLISHMENTS YOU HAVE REALIZED, THAT HAVE HELPED TO DEFINE YOU AS A PERSON?

I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row.

I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.

Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I’m bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.

I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear.

I don’t perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration. I bat .400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.

I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy.

I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down.

I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.

But I have not yet gone to college."

slc2
Nov. 27, 2009, 05:36 AM
Yeah. I bet you also got in on your grades.

:D

I think it's a good idea not to be too much of a smartass, actually. And 'grabbing someone's attention' is probably better done by showing that one has qualities of decency, hard work and persistence.

I don't think I'd be eager to admit someone who wrote about their curly hair, either.

sophiajohn
Feb. 6, 2015, 06:35 AM
Writing an essay is easier but creating topic is talent. If you have interesting and known topic with you then only you can do better in your paper.

clanter
Feb. 6, 2015, 06:44 AM
I want a degree because I have a plan for Peace on Earth ...at least that is what most of the candidates for Miss America want

Possible other ideas to scratch are "I want to attend college to find a husband"...that is so 1950ish

Or "I want to accumulate a sizable student loan debt that I will still be paying off until after retirement".... too real, might scare them

I think you might use what I used, "I have money, you need students how about us working out an arrangement "

In actuality I attended/graduated from a large university that failed to find out I never applied. never took the entrance test, never did any of that and they didn't even find out until I graduated

Canaqua
Feb. 6, 2015, 07:29 AM
I can't remember what I wrote about, it was a loooong time ago!

My son wrote about Taoism and why it was appealing to him. He probably could have written about anything, as he writes extremely well. That essay went over well, not only because it show cased his writing skills, but he referenced a lot reading that he'd done outside of school, of his own volition. It also gave some insight into his personal values and thought processes, without really being about "him".

The "personal struggle" essays are getting pretty cliched, unless you have something really unique to write about. My stepson wanted to write about how hard it was to have divorced parents who didn't get along. We advised him to find something else, as it was likely 50% of the kids applying were in the same boat and it wouldn't make him special...it's kind of staus quo these days, unfortunately.

mvp
Feb. 6, 2015, 07:38 AM
Yeah. I bet you also got in on your grades.

:D

I think it's a good idea not to be too much of a smartass, actually. And 'grabbing someone's attention' is probably better done by showing that one has qualities of decency, hard work and persistence.

I don't think I'd be eager to admit someone who wrote about their curly hair, either.

It's fine to grab for someone's attention. The sin is in missing.

I don't think crayon- or curly hair-hair essays are sufficient conditions for getting into college. Nor are they necessary ones, of course. But the Ivys can fill their incoming classes with 4.0 grades. I think they'd like interesting, 3-D people behind those polished transcripts. That's what they essay is for. You have to find your own way.

Canaqua
Feb. 6, 2015, 07:43 AM
It's fine to grab for someone's attention. The sin is in missing.

I don't think crayon- or curly hair-hair essays are sufficient conditions for getting into college. Nor are they necessary ones, of course. But the Ivys can fill their incoming classes with 4.0 grades. I think they'd like interesting, 3-D people behind those polished transcripts. That's what they essay is for. You have to find your own way.

This is true. The really competitive colleges are NOT looking for a "class of well rounded individuals", but a "well rounded class of individuals". They get plenty of applications from people with 4.0 averages, tons of AP credits, captain of three sports, chairman of every club, etc... Yawwwwwnnnnn. The essay is where someone with the basic credentials can show that they are an individual who will have something interesting to offer to their classmates.

S1969
Feb. 6, 2015, 08:15 AM
This is true. The really competitive colleges are NOT looking for a "class of well rounded individuals", but a "well rounded class of individuals". They get plenty of applications from people with 4.0 averages, tons of AP credits, captain of three sports, chairman of every club, etc... Yawwwwwnnnnn. The essay is where someone with the basic credentials can show that they are an individual who will have something interesting to offer to their classmates.

Well, yes, AND they are showing that they can write.

I worked in the admissions department in my college and I can bet a lot of essays were never read. The applicants with really good grades & scores didn't need more proof that they should be offered a slot. I remember when the staff decided to admit someone from Arizona because...well...they didn't have anyone from Arizona. True story. :)

But, a good essay probably made the difference for some people on the bubble.

If they don't give you a specific topic (e.g. someone that has influenced you), try to find something unusual and interesting to write about....true or not true. When I was in college there were a lot of "senior week" events that were for fun - I remember that someone read application essays of some of the well known seniors. The student government president wrote about when he realized there was no Santa Claus.

pony grandma
Feb. 6, 2015, 08:52 AM
My daughter expanded on a childhood story that we repeat about her. She was about 2-3 yrs old when she told me that she remembered things because her " head talked to her all the time." "And (she) could hear it." So she wrote her essay starting with the retell of the story then expanded on about what her head talks to her about.

It was catchy and unique, and uniquely her.

She ended up at a very good private school with full tuition scholarships.

Mooberry16
Feb. 6, 2015, 09:20 AM
I wrote about horses, but not about my horse or really my riding. I wrote about how horses taught me to never give up and thanked my trainer (The prompt was someone who changed your life) for all the hard work she taught me to do. I remember this super great line that I'm still proud of, and that I'm still pretty sure was part of the reason my essay was so good. I can't find the exact wording but it was in my conclusion and ended it with power. "No matter how many times I fell down, my trainer never offered to help me off the ground. Instead she stood from the sidelines and allowed me to learn how to get up on my own." I wanted to prove to colleges that I could be independent but also a good learner which is what I personally think my essay did.

GoForAGallop
Feb. 6, 2015, 09:37 AM
Just a head's up that the date of this thread is 2009. :)

Not that I think it's an unhelpful thread to continue, but the OP has not just applied to college, but has now graduated as well.

S1969
Feb. 6, 2015, 09:39 AM
Just a head's up that the date of this thread is 2009. :)

Not that I think it's an unhelpful thread to continue, but the OP has not just applied to college, but has now graduated as well.

LOL OMG I did not notice - but I did think....isn't she already in college? I guess I must have dreamed that. LOL. Oh well, good information for others, I suppose. :)

Canaqua
Feb. 6, 2015, 10:53 AM
:lol:

I didn't notice either! Oh, well, people are still having to write college essays, so at least it's not irrelevant, even though OP doesn't need opinions on this any more.

Thames Pirate
Feb. 6, 2015, 12:05 PM
What they want is personality. That's why people who are passionate get in--they demonstrate personality. However, if you are insincere but demonstrate personality, that's great--the sarcastic essay posted is a great example.

I teach IB English, and our first assignment is a personal essay designed to be dual purpose--they can choose a college app prompt. I have read a lot of these.

Memorable ones have included:

--the way volunteering at the hospital assaulted the senses in both good and bad ways

--the way a father used movies with strong females to communicate feminism in his own awkward way to his only daughter

--how a bullying incident in fourth grade haunted a bystander and made her want to speak up

--one that expressed frustration at her choice to adopt more traditional female gender roles and the heat she took from feminists

--being kicked out and living with grandma only to learn that he has traits of his deceased grandfather--and the sense of belonging that came with it

--being a dual national an struggling with identity

--baking as a parallel for life

--a student chronicled his struggle with Aspergers

--the calming feeling of his bedroom and why it was calming

I had a few about significant events--losing parents, breaking one's back--that were fine but didn't stand out. They were well-written, accurate grammatically, followed all the rules, etc. They answered the prompt about significant life events, the process of growing up, etc., but they didn't share as much as one thinks they would. Write in a way that reflects your personality. Don't worry so much about the story you are telling; make sure it's YOUR voice. Yes, they want to see that you can write, but they also want to see that you are not just studying for the grades with no purpose or deeper thought.

Hope that helps!

suz
Feb. 6, 2015, 05:22 PM
Fascinating! What was she remembering?


My daughter expanded on a childhood story that we repeat about her. She was about 2-3 yrs old when she told me that she remembered things because her " head talked to her all the time." "And (she) could hear it." So she wrote her essay starting with the retell of the story then expanded on about what her head talks to her about.

It was catchy and unique, and uniquely her.

She ended up at a very good private school with full tuition scholarships.

OnDeck
Feb. 6, 2015, 05:55 PM
I tried to avoid writing about horses. I'm the same way, I hate writing about it, no one understands, too much jargon, don't want the rich girl connotation etc. But that was stupid. Horses were a huge part of my life in high school and it would be ridiculous to leave them out. Every school I applied to got a horse essay. The second essay for those that required it were not horse related. When I got to orientation, they mentioned that they were no longer necessarily interested in just a well rounded resume, they looked for applicants who had a passion and chased it.

Tell your story. If that includes horses, let it :)