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Unique College Essay Prompts for Your High School Senior

Are you tearing your hair out trying to help your high school senior find topics for his college essays? Kim Moldolfsky has a few (wink wink) suggestions. Read more from Kim on her blog.

Unique College Essay Prompts for Your High School Senior

Looking for just the right college essay topic? Now that the college application season is here, essay topics for the Common App, personal statements for this school or that have become part of our daily household conversation.

I have several great college essay topics! But my son has rejected them all. That’s fine, he really needs to “own” his essay, right?

Maybe they are right for your child.

  • 1.     What I learned after my freshman yearbook photo became a viral meme.
  • 2.     How I plan to use my White Privilege to better the world.
  • 3.     The moment I realized that my father really does know best.
  • 4.     Affluenza, the scourge of my generation.
  • 5.     #MyLifeMatters.
  • 6.     What I learned after I put an end to my mansplainin’ habit.
  • 7.     In-home wifi: right or privilege?
  • 8.     How I found out that Snapchat messages don’t really disappear and what I learned from the experience.
  • 9.     The most meaningful participation trophy I ever earned.
  • 10. My parents suggested I put pen to paper to write the first draft of this essay. You won’t believe what happened next.
  • 11. Straight Outta Suburbia.
  • 12. #Winning: The week I got myself out of bed without my parents needing to wake me up for school.

Did you catch that episode of Modern Family a few years ago in which Haley was applying to college? As part of her application, she was supposed to write an essay about “the biggest obstacle she’s overcome in her life.”

 Haley bemoans the fact that her life has been so charmed that she has never had to overcome anything. (That was in 2011, but certainly jives with current conversations about the oversensitivity and high level of anxiety among today’s college students, which is speculated to be an outcome their oversheltered early years.) 

Haley’s mom, Claire, takes her on a drive promising to share a family secret. When they are out in a rural area, Claire pulls off the road and points to a tree that she says has a secret message from when she and Haley’s dad were dating.

Claire acts like she’s going to take her daughter to see it, but after Haley steps out of the car Claire drives off leaving Haley to find her way home, without money or a cell phone, so that her daughter would have something to write about.

I’m not going to that kind of extreme-nor do I need to. Despite my casting aside my incredibly awesome prompts, my son has some meaningful topics of his own. And I know once he gets serious about writing (and rewriting and then rewriting yet again) his essays, they will be fabulous, original, heartfelt and truly his.

Also, my prompts are dripping with sarcasm and in some cases not true. You think he ever gets himself up for school?! (I’m kidding.)(Sort of.)

His yearbook photo did not become a meme as far as I know, he never got in trouble with Snapchat, and even as a child, he felt a disdain for rewards he did not earn.

True story: his favorite trophy was actually a very large, shiny one he picked out of a “free” bin at a garage sale.


Cheerful young woman writing an assignment while sitting at desk between two classmates during class at college or university

Kim Moldofsky

Kim Moldofsky started blogging about her cute young boys in 2005 at Hormone-Colored Days. Now she shares tips and experiences related to college admissions. Mostly, though, she writes about science and technology at Instagram: kimmoldofsky

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