Think Positive When Writing College Application Essays

on October 3, 2016

The purpose of an admissions essay is to convince the reader to choose you. So, generally, the essay should put the reader in a positive frame of mind. Otherwise, it primes the reader to reject the essay and you. Thus, a good essay should not anger, annoy, offend, upset or disgust the reader. Don’t make the reader uncomfortable. Don’t be pessimistic or cynical.


Avoid controversial and polarizing topics, such as politics and religion. Even if you write a balanced essay, it will include positions to which the reader is opposed. The reader may react more to the content of the essay than the clarity of your writing, especially if the topic engenders strong emotional reactions. 


  • Abortion
  • Affirmative Action
  • Animal Rights
  • Assisted Suicide
  • Birth Control
  • Bullying
  • Capital Punishment (Death Penalty)
  • Celebrities
  • Child Abuse
  • Cloning
  • Creationism/Evolution
  • Death
  • Divorce
  • Doping
  • Drinking Age
  • Drug Legalization
  • Drunk Driving
  • Elder Abuse
  • Euthanasia
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Genocide
  • Global Warming
  • Gun Control
  • Hate Crimes
  • Holocaust Denial
  • Human Trafficking
  • Humor
  • Illegal Activities
  • Immigration (Undocumented or Otherwise)
  • Incest
  • Mac vs. PC Preferences
  • Mental Health
  • Minimum Wage
  • Morality and Immorality
  • Murder
  • Nuclear Power
  • Nuclear Waste
  • Pedophilia
  • Police Brutality
  • Politics
  • Pollution
  • Premarital Sex
  • Prostitution
  • Racism
  • Rape
  • Religion
  • School Vouchers
  • Sex Acts
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Taxes
  • Teen Pregnancy
  • Torture
  • Witchcraft

Don’t disgust the reader. Don’t write about how your dog likes to eat cat poop. Don’t write about anything involving body fluids or emissions. Don’t mention that your little brother picks his nose or likes to eat mucous. Don’t describe wounds and lacerations. Don’t write about vomit. Don’t write about bodily functions. Don’t write about your dead dog or dead cat.


Don’t write about any topic that demonstrates bad judgment, immaturity, self-centeredness or lack of empathy, even if you discuss how you have grown since then. Once you highlight your bad characteristics, you can’t unring the bell. First impressions influence how the reader reacts to the rest of your essay.


Since the reader forms an impression based on the way your write, avoid spelling errors, grammar errors, logic errors and bad word choice. Be especially careful about valid word spelling errors, like thought vs. though vs. tough or right vs. write, since your computer’s spelling correction software may overlook such errors. Proper spelling, grammar and punctuation matters. Avoid invented spelling and other types of creative anti-essay essays, since the use of intentionally incorrect spelling will give the reader a bad impression of you.


The best essays reveal something about you, such as the impact you’ve had on others or the impact others have had on you. So, don’t write about topics that make the reader wonder whether you’re a sociopath, psychopath or narcissist. Don’t be condescending.

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