10 College Essay Brainstorming Questions

Students are often under the misconception that their college application essay needs to be about “the greatest moment of their life” like scoring the game winning goal or passing an AP exam. However, this is not true.

Since everyone, in varying degrees, has these “great” moments they are not unique and can cause your essay to be– forgettable. Also, it is often quite difficult to write about your great moment and not sound trite and braggadocios. Two things colleges do not want from prospective students.

I believe students should spend significant time examining the small, seemingly “unimportant moments” of their life– like the monotony of their job or a car ride to the family’s beach house. It’s in these “unimportant moments” that great essays are born.Ā  I think the examination of simple and often over-looked moments can make for a unique and introspective essay. A willingness to find significance in “insignificant” moments show maturity and intelligence. Two things colleges do want from prospective students.

Below are 10 questions that may help you uncover some important information about the “unimportant moments” you may be overlooking.

  1. What jobs have you held? What lessons have these jobs taught you?
  2. What unique family traditions do you have?
  3. List some games/ activities you played as a child.Are there any connections between these games and what degree you may pursue in college?
  4. List times in which you confronted your fears (roller coasters, the dark, public speaking, etc.)?
  5. How has your hometown shaped you?
  6. List the people (that you personally know) who you aspire to be like and why you aspire to be like them.
  7. Name the place(s) you feel the most comfortable/secure.
  8. List the things you will miss about your hometown when you leave for college.
  9. List tangible items that reveal little pieces of who you are.
  10. List some ways in which you’re a contradiction ( I love working out yet I love ice cream… My hair is always messy yet I’m a neat freak).

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