Perfect Students Have Nothing to Write On: An Education Tragedy

Perfect Students Have Nothing to Write On: An Education Tragedy

Okay, which means this is a bit of hyperbole back at my part.

All students have plenty to write about due to their college application essays.

Nonetheless, from the things I’ve seen using college-bound students going back decade, many of our most talented, driven and intelligent teens live such parallel, over-achieving everyday lives they find it difficult to find an effective essay topic.

These are exactly the same children, many focusing on Ivy League educations, that will need bull’s-eye essays to have even a shot of getting in.

It is sad, unfair and ironic: The hardest working students have almost no time for a life.

No Life: No Essay Topic

Here is an example of a student i worked with recently:

The mom sent me personally a contact summarizing her girl’s history:

The girl ended up being enthusiastic about history and computer technology, as well as in theater (handled every school production since 7th class). She also did Model UN (with accolades); ended up being editor associated with school newsprint and active in debate club.

Also, she ended up being captain associated with robotics group, the chess club and some kind of other educational group.

She had built her own computer and also the family’s house service.

She also participated in three varsity activities.

The girl’s GPA was stellar and test ratings exceptional.

Where did she wish to head to college?

‘Her twelfth grade counselor thinks she’s a good opportunity at the Ivies,’ mom published.

Sure appears like this girl may have her pick of colleges, right?

All the best with that!

Acceptance rates during the prestige schools are in all-time lows.

Even when she published an outstanding college application essay, her opportunities is slim to none at the most elite schools.

The real problem, in my experience, is the fact that this student is not uncommon.

These types of people have similar off-the-charts grades, test ratings and extracurricular dossiers.

With everybody towards the top of the heap, the focus frequently transforms for their college application essays.

The tragedy I talked about in my own sensational headline is that these are the precise brilliant students that have the most difficult time picking out a fascinating and meaningful essay topic.


They’re too busy doing the same things.

Team activities, band, drama, clubs, and internships.

Model Un. Summertime camp. Mission trips. Robotic competitions.

And mostly…studying.thesis statement about prejudice

Despite the fact that their activities and experiences are certainly character-building and lesson-teaching, the extremely orchestrated nature makes them hard to mine for gritty, organic or relevant life-shaping lessons.

This is exactly why one of my first questions to students I tutor is whether they’d held employment.

Summertime jobs. Performing part-time during school. Even hourly work.

These are a gold mine for topic ideas, for the reason that they fall outside that twelfth grade student bubble where everybody does the same task.

Instantly student needs to cope with getting stiffed by way of a consumer at a restaurant where he waits tables.

Or perhaps a student needs to discover a way to have his yard mower to job sites with no automobile.

Perhaps a student gets passed over to caddie at a club because she’s hispanic.

I advise students to recall ‘times’ they faced issues in their past to discover real-life moments that helped shaped their thinking for some reason.

When they can show by themselves for action managing that issue, their stories (and essay topic) will expose a bit of their own personality.

When they also reflect and expain what they learned when managing that problem, in addition they can expose their character.

Character + Character = Awesome Personal Statement Essay

The sad thing is that the absolute most high-reaching students usually have not experienced a summertime task.

Not just have they perhaps not had time in their activity-packed everyday lives to hold employment working at Subway, or perhaps a clothes boutique or even for their mother or father’s supermarket, nevertheless they merely haven’t any SPARE TIME.

A number of these students are distressed when we start brainstorming an essay topic.

They state the same things as all students ‘There’s nothing interesting about me personally.’

I question them what they do once they do get a uncommon moment of the time to themselves.

They pause.


Think even more.

‘I want to go out with my friends,’ many tell me.

Oh yea.


Just How sad is this??

Sadly, dangling with buddies doesn’t frequently yield great essay topics, so we keep fishing around inside their past to get anything they’ve done where there weren’t lots of adults around ensuring nothing went wrong.

Perfect life. Nothing occurs. No story.

No story. Dull essay.

Discuss force!

These students have worked so difficult, for such a long time, and certainly sacrificed a great deal to be perfect students, the precise sort which should enter into the absolute most competitive college and universities.

I believe many should merely forget about the Ivy League fantasy and concentrate in the several hundred or maybe more outstanding educational organizations that don’t have Ivy status.

Boy, would that chill out this frenzied application world nearly immediately.

I really believe the children would let them go without a second thought if their parents went very first.

I am aware I’m old school, but I must remember that a lot of my achieving students also mention ‘My anxiety’ or ‘My depression’ as possible essay topics.

I don’t believe that’s just a coincidence.

I recall one student who had been so eager for a fascinating experience he planned to borrow an event that occurred to his mommy when she ended up being younger.

And guess who’s brilliant idea it was?

Yup, mom’s.

However for a number of these perfect students, that have engaged in more interesting and challenging activities than many individuals do inside a lifetime, they can not discover that secret topic or everyday experience to nail their college application essay.

It is the overachievers which originate from privileged backgrounds that have it the most difficult.

Somehow these students do have time for worldwide holidays, second house visits, ski trips, spa trips, sailing, driving horses and golfing (I’m perhaps not attempting to be snide; it’s this that they tell me).

You can extract interesting experiences and write powerful essays that involve these privileged activities, but I haven’t seen many.

Students who have had to part of to aid their family or their particular economic wellbeing are the fortunate ones—at minimum with regards to essay topics.

When they lived on a ranch in the center of nowhere and helped enhance the pigs.

When they assisted their mom clean houses on weekends.

When they ran the money register during the household laundry mat.

When they had to get yourself a summertime task to earn extra cash (HINT: that might be any kid.)

Perfect Students: Dig Harder for Your Essay Topic

This is when ‘real-life’ happens, and no matter just how hard you try, it is much simpler to write about, extract relatable experiences and moments, and remove life lessons when life involves a qualification of fight.

Personally I think of these overachievers.

They’re hard-working, well-intentioned and great children.

For many, this can be their first flavor of just how life can sometime be unfair.

Don’t despair, though, if you are a perfect student which has been doing all of the right things, and several.

You’ll however enter into probably the most awesome schools.

With regards to your college application essay, and locating a killer essay topic, you will need certainly to once more be that kid which goes the additional mile.

You are able to and can discover great subjects.

They’ll simply take more digging and imagination, possibly more study and self-reflection.

I drive the concept of the ‘mundane,’ within the impressive.

Works each and every time.

Even if you’re some of those determined students would you every thing, along with tens and thousands of other people doing the same thing, you’re unique.

You simply need certainly to strive to locate some form of problem (challenge, barrier, failure, phobia, conflict, set-back, crisis, error, etc.) you faced to be able to show just how.

Every year, I write a post for many you students who’re willing to start your college application essay.

All you need would be to find that certain secret topic idea.

There are lots of methods to brainstorm a few ideas for college application essay topics.

This time, i am going for the essay jugular and offering a brainstorm guide to start your college application essay by honing in on your own most useful issues.

If you’re not used to this technique of writing a narrative-style college application essay, let me clue you in to why issues are your golden solution.

I really believe ideal and a lot of effective essays are the ones that showcase one of your defining attributes or traits.

And also you try this by sharing real-life experiences, moments and occasions from your past that illustrate (serve as examples for) the product quality or attribute you’re currently talking about.

Hang in there with me now…

This may start to make sense once you learn more about these essays.

You need to realize that college applications essays, specially individual statement style essays useful for the normal Application and other ‘core’ essays, are extremely not the same as typical documents you blogged for English class.

These essays, at the least the very best ones, are extremely individual.

They consist of your individual stories that’s why they’re called ‘narrative.’

There are lots of how to land upon a ‘topic’ or theme for your essay.

You could start by brainstorming your defining attributes or traits, and go after that.

On this page, nonetheless, I’m providing another possible path to finding your very best stories and topics.

It surely doesn’t matter the method that you discover your topic, if you unearth one really good one.

Then you are set.

What you’re wanting are those experiences from your past (mainly throughout your twelfth grade years) as you are able to share to be able to expose why is you tick, that which you most worry about, the method that you learn and exactly what sets you apart from other people.

Willing to discover your most useful minute, experiences, occasions and incidents?

Start looking for past issues.

Find a juicy problem, and you’ll possess a little tale.

And it’ll be described as a story because ‘something occurred.’

If anything occurred, which makes your essay interesting to read.

You Desire THAT!

Additionally implies you had to manage anything; you had to carry out that problem.

This provides you more to write on yourself: the method that you thought about that problem, the measures you took to control it, and a lot of important, that which you learned (about yourself, other people and also the world) along the way.

Boom! You’ll have a individual essay about yourself.

Yes, it may be that easy.

But first, find an issue.

They cannot have to be impressive, momentous, catastrophes or tragedies, although those could work, too.

Frequently, probably the most simple, daily problems work the most effective.

The wonder is the fact that all of us have faced many issues, big and little.

Each and every day, all day long. It is call life.

Anytime something ‘happened’ that you experienced, it involved an issue.

Problems can be bought in many shapes and kinds.

Here is the Problem Brainstorm Guide that will help you start your college application essay:

DISCOVER YOUR VERY BEST PROBLEMSTo Start Your College Application Essay(Copy and paste this record into Word/Google doc and print it out)

Go down this list of issues and write down ‘times’ you faced or dealt using this kind of problem.

Make an effort to think about one big example and one small one. Often the smaller ones grow to be the very best ones.

  1. When did you face an OBSTACLE (anything got into the method of anything you desired)?
  2. Exactly what was one of your biggest CHALLENGES (something difficult for you personally)?
  3. Did there is a CONFLICT with someone (you disagreed on anything; both of you wanted the same task; you argued…)?
  4. Ended up being truth be told there any big CHANGE in your life (you moved; you lost a family member; you looked different)?
  5. Did you create an error in modern times?
  6. Has something occurred to you that has been a SETBACK in your lifetime?
  7. Did you FAIL at something?
  8. When were you EMBARRASSED?
  9. Have you CRIED recently?
  10. Do you’ve got any PHOBIAS?
  11. What exactly is your main FLAW real or psychological?
  12. Exactly what made you are feeling probably the most FEAR?
  13. Does something cause you to feel GUILTY?
  14. Does your loved ones have HARDSHIPS (economic; addiction problems; immigration condition; task loss)?
  15. Do you really be concerned about anything?
  16. Can there be anything you REGRET (wish hadn’t happened or would require a redo)?
  17. Would you always enter into the same type of TROUBLE?

I really hope this has assisted you collect a number of your current issues.

Now, check if some of them are specially uncommon, unique, memorable, entertaining or interesting.

Circle those!

HINT: steer clear of cliche school ‘problems,’ such as for example obtaining a bad class, blowing a test, activities injury, etc.

Issues that only you may have likely are your most promising issues to start your college application essay.

Here is another trick to fleshing out a juicy problem: If you found a ‘big’ problem, see if you’re able to discover smaller types of that problem, by means of smaller issues.

Example: Big problem = Your mom got very ill. Smaller problem = you must look after your three younger sisters.

Is it possible to go even smaller?

Perhaps you did not understand how to cook (a straight smaller problem associated with that big problem), now need to make their lunches each morning or make dinner.

Possibly your little sisters are all picky eaters (another problem!), and you have experienced to obtain actually imaginative to make them lunches they’ll eat.

Hey! This may be an exceptional essay: come up with the method that you make fancy lunches for your picky little sisters.

Could this kind of ordinary, daily topic like making paperbag lunches enable you to get into the dream school?


Think about what that day-to-day chore reveals in regards to you?

If nothing else, it is that you’re extremely responsible (a defining quality?) and care lots regarding the household especially if you made that work to cook, accommodate your sisters’ fussiness with imaginative (defining quality?) meals and help support your ailing mom and household.

That is rather an impressive person we will learn about—without even attempting to be impressive.

In this article, you will of course mention the bigger issue of your mom’s disease when describing why you had in order to make lunches.

But by targeting the smaller, associated issues, your essay will likely to be mainly in regards to you and never your mom (that is how you would like it.)

You’ll be able to discuss the method that you handled that problem, including making these lunches along with other meals.

You are able to explain the measures you took to master just how to cook, and your defining quality of bringing creativity and individual duty to the procedure.

Your essay may have the theme of the method that you really are a imaginative person, then go deeper into the method that you got like that and WHY IT MATTERS. ( or you could choose your sense of responsiblity and concentrate the essay on that defining quality. Often best to pick ONE quality in each essay to give it a sharp focus.)

I am aware this can be a good deal to consume at the same time.

But once you read some sample essays and start to spot the issues that power the private stories—and see on your own how they are interesting to learn, and exactly how you get a individual ‘picture’ for the writer—this strategy is likely to make more feeling.

Can you envisage the method that you could start this essay sharing your daily morning routine of creating imaginative sack lunches?

I will picture the kinds of colorful details and snippets of conversation from those frantic mornings which you can create into an anecdote showing yourself for action and begin your essay.

Possibly one sibling demands peanut butter and pickles, and another that her sandwich is cut into six squares and also the third only eats mini-carrots and do-it-yourself hummus. Son, are you currently an excellent your government or sibling!!

You then continue utilizing the back story regarding the mom and just why you had been charged with this task, and drill deeper into the method that you handled it, and THAT WHICH YOU learned all about yourself, other people and also the world along the way ( here is the all-important analytical, reflective element of your essay.)

And so I hope my Brainstorm Guide has actually assisted you have unveil a few of your past issues to begin your college application essay.

And you start to get an concept of ways to use these to create about yourself to start your college application essay.

If you take enough time to learn more about this technique, you are able to write your personal awesome essay.

Read my posts in this Jumpstart page and I guarantee this may start to make more feeling, as well as supply more approaches to discover your very best topic ideas.

If you prefer a brief book that takes you through this technique one step at any given time, check out my writing guide on Amazon: Escape Essay Hell!

My online program, also offered with this weblog, does the same task, but with a number of brief video clips and handouts.

Whatever works, right!

Hope you found this helpful!

Remember, when you can think about your past issues, you’re bound to locate a great topic to begin your college application essay!