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I'm stumped on my college essay topic... any ideas that involve horses?

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  • I'm stumped on my college essay topic... any ideas that involve horses?

    I've been waiting for my college essay topic to magically pop up into my head for the past month, but my application deadline is Sunday and now I'm starting to panic. After sitting here with a blank word processing program up for literally 2 hours, I'm not sure what else to do but to turn to COTH for some ideas. I wasn't planning on writing about anything with horses, but I keep getting the advice "write about something that you're comfortable talking about" so here I am. I'm not looking to write anything cliche like a "my horse is my teacher" essay, but something... interesting. Like maybe on the dynamics of the people in the horse world?... gah, I feel like nothing I attempt to write is good enough!

    Any horsey suggestions?

  • #2
    ... What is the prompt?


    • #3
      How the economy has affected the horse owner.

      Patience and Consistency are Your Friends


      • #4
        Well, if your college essays are like mine (mine asked me to basically pick something I'm interested in, talk about it, and tell how it "defines" you) and you want to talk about horses, talk about the effects riding has had on you. Or owning a horse. Responsibility, determination, courage, etc. Problem solving could even be thrown in there too. Working with horses requires an open mind and sometimes you have to try to solve a problem by approaching it from several different directions. Colleges like to hear about determination and overcoming obstacles. They want to know that as a student you'll stick to whatever it is you decide to d. They want to know you have gumption.

        Unless I'm way off the prompt at this point that's pretty much all I got for ya
        You're trying to do something normal people wouldn't do because they're terrified they might fail. -Boyd Martin


        • #5
          I wrote mine on wanting to meet the sculptor who had created a small bronze statue of a horse that my family has owned for...as long as I can remember. It was one of those "if you could have dinner with anyone" questions. I spoke about moving a lot from house to house and how being in charge of "my horse" from when I was tiny meant that I wasn't too traumatized by all the transitions.

          I got in.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Cinnabon2004 View Post
            Well, if your college essays are like mine (mine asked me to basically pick something I'm interested in, talk about it, and tell how it "defines" you) and you want to talk about horses, talk about the effects riding has had on you. Or owning a horse. Responsibility, determination, courage, etc. Problem solving could even be thrown in there too. Working with horses requires an open mind and sometimes you have to try to solve a problem by approaching it from several different directions. Colleges like to hear about determination and overcoming obstacles. They want to know that as a student you'll stick to whatever it is you decide to d. They want to know you have gumption.

            Unless I'm way off the prompt at this point that's pretty much all I got for ya

            Ditto. And if that means talking about what your horse has taught you, then thats what you should talk about. Did you overcome any hardships to get where you are? To be successful? How many times did you fall, want to quit, and get back up? How have horses really defined you as a person? What would your life be like without horses? Maybe write about what your alternative universe you would be like if you weren't able to ride, a "if I had taken any other paths I wouldn't be who I am" kind of deal. Just some food for thought.

            Honestly I always found when I had to write a paper it helped just to sit down and write. Stream of consciousness. It helps to get something down on paper and not focus too much on the topic at hand. Something always develops, trust me.


            • #7
              College essays won't make or break your acceptance unless you nail it or bomb it; most people are in the middle and a lot of standard "things I have to overcome" essays aren't really read if the application otherwise is in the "keep" or "toss" pile.

              I worked in the Admissions office as a work study student my jr. and sr. years and was a bit shocked at the real application process!

              Make it interesting and it will be read; if read, however, make sure you have a good proofreader! Maybe write about a particular ride -- good, bad, crash? Maybe about a particular obstacle you had to overcome or accomplishment - back to riding after injury, starting a new horse. I like the idea of what you've learned about yourself from riding -- things like "you can keep asking but if you always ask wrong you'll never get anything" might be inspiring to read.....making a parallel between riding/training and some other area in life?


              • #8
                Agree w/ KateKat

                Honestly I always found when I had to write a paper it helped just to sit down and write. Stream of consciousness. It helps to get something down on paper and not focus too much on the topic at hand. Something always develops, trust me.

                Write first, edit later. Brainstorm a bit first and then start patting your ideas into shape as your central thesis becomes more clear. Then edit the bejeezus out of it as your final step(s).

                And good luck!
                Don't wrassle with a hog. You just get dirty, and the hog likes it.

                Collecting Thoroughbreds - tales of a re-rider and some TBs


                • #9
                  S1969, I don't by any means want to contradict you, but want to add a second opinion on the essay topic from my own experiences. I truly believe the importance of the essay is hugely dependent on the individual school. Because of that, OP, you should check the school's website and see what it has to say. In cases like S1969's school, you won't want to cause yourself undue stress, but for others, you will really, really want to nail the essay. I have two reasons for this: first, college admissions at already competitive schools has become unbelievably competitive. There are schools where every single serious applicant has near-identical credentials. Some of these schools don't require recommendations. At these schools, your essay will make or break you, IME working for a university. It is the only thing that they have to truly compare you to others students.

                  Also, major colleges and universities are making a huge push towards better writing. In recent years in academic circles, there has been the feeling that college-level writing has dropped to such a low standard that action needed to be taken. At any competitive institution, this has become a huge concern and they are using essays to judge your writing ability.

                  Again, it depends on your type of school. I would bet that schools such as the one S1969 worked at and described are the majority, but without knowing where you are applying I wanted to put out this word of caution, based on my own experience both attending and working at a major university.

                  And hang in there... I, too, put pen to paper dozens of times while coming up with my essays. And I was one of those serial appliers, who had to write tons. I tried countless times to write an essay for the school I ended up at, only to finally get everything together the day it was due.


                  • #10
                    I can't imagine NOT having something to say about horses.

                    What are you in college for?
                    If it is a science path, make it about something that will tie in with those interests.
                    If you are going for, say, history, use that to fan your muse's flames.


                    • #11
                      depends on the prompt. If you're going to use horses, focus on how much hard work and perseverance it takes. People automatically assume that people who have grown up around horses have had everything handed to them. I wrote mine on how I had to work my ass off to stay around horses after my mom got cancer and my family couldn't pay for it anymore. Though, I go to a large public university and doubt that anyone actually read it...

                      It would help to know what the prompt is- and it'd be interesting to know where you're applying
                      "My shopping list is getting long but I will add the marshmallows right below the napalm." -Weighaton


                      • #12
                        Just write about something that demonstrates some aspect of your personality - something that helps AdComs put a personality to the stack of paperwork. I just applied ED to Brown, and one of their supplement prompts was "Write about the best piece of advice you've ever recieved." I was a working student for Phyllis Dawson, and one thing she really like to tell me was "get your head out of your ass and ride that horse!" That was the opening line of my essay - from there, it went into a deeper look at how I've had to learn to stop overthinking things and take a different approach to not only my riding, but my life. You don't need to write about some epic moment like winning a gold medal at NAJYRC, you can write about something seemingly meaningless like a revelation you had while cleaning a stall. What matters is that you write well about it.
                        Admissions folk read a lot of essays about the same sort of topics - if you can make yours a little bit different, that's great!
                        Sorry about the inundation of advice - college applications have been my life lately, haha! Where are you applying?
                        Last edited by rideforthelaurels16; Nov. 10, 2009, 05:41 PM. Reason: Grammar FAIL.


                        • #13
                          Ok, it really depends on your prompt. However, we had to talk about something as part of a job interview. I spoke about "What horses have taught me about leadership." A little corny? Probably. But remember that horses are unique to you. Unless you're applying to a big equine college, the admissions people aren't going to see a lot of essays about horses. Moms, yes. Injuries and illness, yes. Travel, yes. Horses, not as much.

                          I spoke about: time management, goal setting, self-discipline, attention to detail, money management, patience, perseverance, crisis management, work-ethic, and how to hold people accountable for how hard they work, not their looks or money.

                          I was trying to show them I have the tools to do a job, but it might be a place for you to start. I would also include something about diversity (and people) because a lot of universities are holding that as a high priority right now.

                          Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique


                          • #14
                            oh and another idea just to help you get past the writers block...go do something away from the computer that is repetitive but gets the blood flowing through your brain. I did some of my best thinking in school when I was lap swimming. Of course I would have to remember all these great ideas as I ran to get my towel, but that is how I developed some really good arguments. Or just try running on the treadmill and keep a piece of paper next to you. Either way, if you're stuck don't stare at a blank computer screen! It doesn't help, it just taunts you with its whiteness...


                            • #15
                              Once we know what direction they are looking for i can offer suggestion.

                              I'm a science geek so I would want to write on the influence of sugar in the diet, and debunking nutritional or vaccination "myths"... or on a more social aspect the difference in personalities between styles of riding, goals... heck you could tie that into anything! income, religion, political views... and survey folks at horse shows to gather data....
                              chaque pas est fait ensemble


                              • Original Poster

                                Thank you so much for all the replies.

                                There is no prompt for my "big" essay, (for the common app) which is why it's so difficult to figure out what to write! The college that I'm applying ED to, Hamilton, really puts a stress on writing too which is also very intimidating.

                                I plan on writing in stream of consciousness. I really like the "what horses have taught me" deal, specifically about problem solving, always being one step ahead of your horse's thinking... and I could also talk about how you can't blame anything on the horse... hmmmm... the gears in my head are finally starting to churn...

                                rideforthelaurels16, that's a good idea, start specific and then go general.

                                I'll start pounding away... but more suggestions would be great!


                                • #17
                                  Yeah, I'd make it personal. The personal essay with a wide point at the end is a great one, like the person who did the affect of the horse statue on her life, or something.

                                  Start small - a painting, a book you read as a child, what your dreams are, how the economy is putting a diferent twist to them.

                                  The trick is to end the essay talking about the very same thing you said in your first sentence - but related it to the theme you developed. That's the trick of any essay, and if you can do that, you're in like Flynn.

                                  Good luck
                                  Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.


                                  • #18
                                    Please not another 'what horses have taught me.' PLEASE not another essay about 'what i learn from my pets'. PLEASE.

                                    Is this a college entrance application essay? First of all, re-read the instructions on the application, very carefully. Often the instructions themselves explain what they're looking for and give good leads. 'Explain why you chose our school' or 'Explain why you would be a good student', 'Tell us what you are like'.

                                    TOO, consider making a trip to a school advisor and put some effort into making an outline with them and discussing the choice of topic. A favorite teacher is a good choice, or an adult mentor. Parents who applied to college or teach there may have some very good suggestions. PLEASE put some effort into it. DON'T leave it til Sunday. A sloppy last minute essay is obvious, and it doesn't suggest you'll be an organized student who gets things done on time.

                                    Write about how something prepared you to be a great student in the area of your chosen major. Your choice of essay subject is VERY important. No, not about a horse statue. Uh-uh. Your choice needs to say who you are, what you consider important, and no, really, it should not be about horses. It needs to be about something other people will think is important. That is NOT horses. Otherwise you're taking the chance that the people reading the essay have to be horse people or they'll find your essay trivial and off subject, not something a serious student would write.

                                    Write about values that you have that make you a good student.

                                    What values do you have that make you a good candidate for the program you're applying to?

                                    If it's an education program, write about teaching, tutoring, the day you realized you want to be a teacher, helping a younger brother. If you're applying to an engineering program, show yourself to be a methodical, thinking person who examines facts before making a choice, who analyzes things and comes up with the right answer. If a studio art program, show yourself to be the creative, curious person who can see things from different perspectives, who reads philosophy, history, even math, and turns it into artistry.

                                    Please do not write about horses.

                                    You can write about your trainer, and how he prepared you for college, by teaching you to be consistent, persistent, and to respond to challenges by fighting back instead of giving up, how competing taught you to not give up, to plan, stick to a schedule, make commitments, design a program to meet a specifically described goal, maybe, or what teaching handicapped kids taught you about how valuable your skills can be in helping another person in the world. Don't write about horses, tack, jumps, horse statues, a horse you loved, or a horse that taught you 'so much'.

                                    Write about a summer job you started out hating and succeeded at thru sheer grit and will, a person you met and won over through hard work, the death of a loved one whose values you now carry with you, a tragedy you learned from.
                                    Last edited by slc2; Nov. 10, 2009, 07:58 PM.


                                    • #19
                                      I would like to add that, whatever you decide to write about, make it real, make it compelling and make sure it's edited!

                                      Poor grammar, poor sentence structure, poor spelling, etc., can be the death of your efforts. It is unfortunate that those basic hallmarks of the written word have fallen into disfavor by the "educated" among us.

                                      Back in the day.....I graduated from a liberal arts college in 1984. At the time, students could not matriculate unless and until they submitted a successful Baccalaureate Essay. The BE specified that a subject was written about from two diverse disciplines, e.g. history and biology; literature and chemistry.

                                      At the time, the Baccalaureate Essay was a big, freaking deal. I spent months researching and writing mine which was ultimately 57 pages long. It got rare "distinction" honors.

                                      Along the way, I typed many, many Baccalaureate Essay's and edited them in the process. I couldn't believe the crappy copy that was given to me!! There was no way I could produce a product with the horrible raw material I was given!

                                      That said.....and many years of copy proofreading....the editing of the final product is crucial. Be REAL. Be lucid. DON'T be over-the-top. Let the arbiters get a sense of your true self. Perhaps horses can be a tangential aspect of your essay, e.g. fleshing out a person who has been incremental in your horse experience.

                                      Good luck to you!


                                      • #20
                                        College essays should show a few things. For one, it should reveal something different about you. Sell yourself. Get a great opening sentence, draw people in and make them WANT to read more. Secondly, they should show that you know how to write, and write better than all those other applicants that shouldn't even be considered until you're accepted. Your essay doesn't have to be anything epic or groundbreaking, because at this point in your life very few people have really achieved anything epic or groundbreaking. It should show that you're an intelligent young person with a brain in your head and some interesting ideas. If you can come up with a creative format for you essay, go for it! I wrote one of my essays in a train-of-thought format- no punctuation, no capitals, phrases connected by a line of periods. Obviously not grammatically correct, but it was evident that it was intentional and got the point across.

                                        On a different note, my older step brother went to Hamilton and loved it! Its a little off the beaten path but a great school, so good luck!!
                                        Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. Explore. Dream. Discover.
                                        ~Mark Twain