I asked Janine Robinson, who is the creator of a wonderful website called Essay Hell and the author of an excellent ebook entitled "Escape Essay Hell," to identify those essay topics that teenagers should absolutely avoid. You definitely don't want to write about your winning team. If you are one of the lucky teenagers who has grown up in an affluent household, with all the perks that goes with it, no need to share that with college admission officials.
And nobody wants to read about your losing team, either. "The last thing anyone wants to read about is your ski trip to Aspen or your hot oil massage at a fancy resort," Robinson observed.4.
Some bad topics show admissions officers that you don’t have a good sense of judgment or maturity, which is a problem since they are building a class of college students who have to be able to handle independent life on campus.
Other bad topics suggest that you are a boring person, or someone who doesn’t process your experience in a colorful or lively way, which is a problem since colleges want to create a dynamic and engaged cohort of students.
Writing an "un-essay." Many students, particularly some of the brightest ones, have a negative reaction to the strictures of the admission essay.
In response, Robinson says, "They want to write in stream-of-consciousness or be sarcastic, and I totally understand this reaction. Do not write about drug use, drinking and driving, arrests or jail time. The problem with these topics is not that they are depressing, but that such powerful topics can be challenging to write about.
This can show admissions officers that you're either someone who simply blows off directions and instructions or someone who can't understand how to follow them.
Neither is a good thing, since they are looking for people who are open to receiving new information from professors and not just deciding they know everything already.
That's because the more out-there your topic, the more likely it is to stumble into one of these trouble categories.
The problem with the overly personal essay topic is that revealing something very private can show that you don’t really understand boundaries.