Edward Said States

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What Should I Write About?
So you know which schools you’re interested in, and you’ve looked over the applications and read all the essay questions. Chances are you’re wondering, “What in the world should I write about?” You’re not alone. In fact, it is safe to assume that everybody who has ever had to write an essay for a college application has asked that very question. Unfortunately, the applications don’t give you much guidance. Most of the essay questions are so open-ended that you can write about virtually anything. Since this essay might be the most significant writing you’ve ever done, the freedom to choose a topic can be paralyzing. Although picking a topic will seem daunting at first, it’s not impossible. The key is to narrow your focus and write about something close to your heart. If you follow this plan, you’ll create a lively essay that shows the admissions committee your intelligence and personality. But finding a great topic is not something you can do in five minutes. It will take a little work. Essay Questions from the 2005 Common Application

Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you. Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you. Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence. Describe a character in fiction, an historical figure, or creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you and explain that influence. A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in the college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you. Topic of your choice.

Not-So-Common Essay...
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