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09/04/2019

Topic for college essay?

QUESTION
Topic for college essay?
Which would make a better college essay topic?

I am either going to write about how after returning from a trip to Costa Rica, a main aspiration in my life would be to return there and help the stray animals. There were so many stray and sick dogs, pigs, cats, chickens ect. and only 2 animals shelters/centers on the whole island. I would like to return and build animal shelters and help save them.

My other topic option is about how my dad and his friends started the Polar Bear Swim fundraiser on Long Beach, New York in order to raise money for the Make A Wish Foundation. Every year on Super Bowl Sunday (keep in mind this is end of January/beginning of February) I run into the freexzing cold ocean to help this cause and I have been doing it since I was 12.

Which is a better topic?

ANSWER
The first one is a better topic. It allows you to show off some of your experiences (for example, that you have traveled) but also has an aspirational quality. You are telling the college not just what you have done, but also what you will do.

The second topic does show your willingness to do something *crazy* to help others, but it is mostly your dad’s story and not your own. Honestly, you run into the ocean for a cause, but it’s really only one day a year, right? There are other kids out there who volunteer many hours a week for their causes, and you won’t look as good in comparison.

However, if you can talk about how seeing something problematic has inspired you, that’s very personal and nobody will have a “better” story like that. Additionally, if your hope to build animal shelters is tied to your prospective major (biology? animal science? social work? sociology? you get the idea), then this essay is even stronger. (However, if it is not particularly tied to what you want to study, then don’t just make it up. It’s a good topic as it is, and you wouldn’t want a college interviewer asking you all about your passion for animal science if you really just want to study astronomy or something.)

What I particularly like about topic # 1is that it tells a reader about something you have done in the past, about how you thought about it and considered something you learned on that trip, and about what you want to do in the future. A reader will feel, “Well, THIS college can help this kid save those animals!” In your second essay, it’s less clear why you need to go to college, much less the college you are applying to, from the essay.