Lesson Two: Selecting a Topic
Choosing an essay topic can be one of the most difficult aspects of the entire admissions process. Questions often ask you to think about your entire life, pick just one thing, and talk about it in great depth. Even the most reflective writers are left wondering: "How am I supposed to know the one event that has changed my life or the one thing that represents my entire personality?" In all likelihood there isn't just one. But there probably is one that you can write about most passionately and effectively. The most important part of your entire essay is finding this one subject. Without a topic you feel passionate about, without one that brings out the defining aspects of your personality, you risk falling into the trap of sounding like the 90 percent of applicants who will write boring admissions essays. Coming up with this idea is difficult and will require a great deal of time. But whatever you do, don't let this part stress you out. Have fun!
One Essay, Multiple Applications
By now, you have figured out that you can save time by submitting the same or similar essays for the applications to various schools. If you are creative, you will be able to plug in many of your answers into some not-so-similar questions, too. It is fine to lift whole paragraphs or even entire essays and apply them to different questions--as long as you do so seamlessly. Be absolutely sure that you have answered the question asked. Pay special attention to the introductions and conclusions--this is where cutting and pasting is most evident. Thorough proofreading is imperative if you take shortcuts like these. If a school notices that you have obviously swapped essays without even bothering to tailor them to the questions at hand, it shows them that you are lazy and insincere. If the question requires an answer specific to the school, you should show that you have read the college's web page and admissions catalog, and have an understanding of the institution's strengths.
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