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General College Application Essay Topics

A college application essay can often make or break the case of a student's admission. Essay topics cover a variety of topics, and admissions officers expect students to think creatively, write engagingly and demonstrate their suitability to target college.

Influences and Inspirations

Colleges often ask applicants to write an essay describing a favorite role model or hero/heroine, a person who provides inspiration or a person who has a great influence on academic or career decisions. Colleges themselves can ask applicants to describe the influence of a non-human device, such as a song, a movie or a play. Applicants should make this essay as relevant as possible by describing in detail how this person or thing led to their decision to use this particular college.

Personal Goals

the College often want to know about the applicant's objectives and how they plan to use the college in order to achieve these objectives. Applicants may be asked to describe a goal they set and achieved, or they may be asked about their career dreams. Other high schools, often those interested in creative thinking and problem solving skills, ask how students deal with failure to reach targets or what past actions have led to setbacks. They can also measure the goal-setting skills with questions about both short-and long-term goals. Set specific, relevant and measurable objectives in order to make a good impression on admissions officials.


To find out more about an applicant, high schools sometimes ask questions that require a student to describe her character or personality. The College may ask how a candidate thinks that he is perceived by friends, classmates or teachers. A student can be asked to define her moral code or define abstract concepts, such as integrity, loyalty or fairness. Applicants may be asked to simply describe their good and bad qualities.


Ask about an applicant's opinion is a way to uncover patterns of thinking, personality traits, political orientation and values. Colleges can ask a candidate views on a controversial current event or topic, for ideas on how to solve an ongoing problem or global reactions to the dramatic social changes. They can also ask an applicant opinion on the important or most useful things from a number of options and explain her choice.


more progressive colleges tendency in the direction of essay topics, which forces students to think outside the box. They may ask what a candidate would do if he were President of the United States, what kind of animal he would most like to be, or to choose a dead person to interview and then write an imagined transcript. Applicants may be asked to describe what they would do with an unexpected financial windfall or what the world would be without money. Questions about imagination uncover information about an applicant's attitudes, interests and values.

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