The Big List of Questions

The toughest part of the essay is getting started.  In case you are having trouble getting your essay started, here is a list of questions to help inspire you.  If that doesn't work, read some of the sample essays for inspiration, but remember, the best essay is an essay that only you could have written, so copying an essay will not help you.  Instead, use the samples, questions, and articles to inspire you to write a winning essay that shines your hook.  Now, without further adieu, the big list of questions...

  • If you were stranded on a desert island, what one item would you take with you? (A radio doesn't count!) What one person would you like to have there with you?
  • Is there one person whose life you admire and would like to emulate? Why would you call them successful? What do you define as success? 
  • If you slipped and fell off of the Empire State Building, and your whole life flashed before your eyes, which accomplishment would you be most proud of? What would be your biggest regret? What one thing would you wish to have done (besides getting shoes with better traction!)?
  • What do you want to do after college? Why?
  • Who has had the most influence on you? How?
  • Have you ever let down someone you care about? What did you learn from this experience? Be honest! Admissions officers treasure candor and are very aware when the truth is being finessed or embellished. As a personal example, in an 8th grade social studies class, a friend of mine who sat behind me asked if he could just peek over my shoulder and look at my test answers. He was my good friend, so even though I didn't want to cheat, I let him do it. Of course we got caught, and the look on my teacher's face (who was always one of my favorite teachers, and is still my good friend today), made me want to crawl into a dark hole. I learned that even though you can sometimes get away with cheating, it's not worth it, because deep inside you know that you're ultimately letting down the people you care most about.
  • Has there been any single incident that has caused you to think or reevaluate your opinion or attitudes about a subject? Two examples: One student wrote about an incident at school when another student, who was a friend of hers, was being picked on. The student being picked on happened to have Downs Syndrome. She was only a freshman, and was too afraid to speak up and protect her friend. I will also share a personal example. A number of years ago, I was in line at McDonalds, and the man in front of me started making racially charged remarks at the person working behind the counter, who was probably a few years younger than me at the time. I was with a group of friends, and none of us said anything to stop the guy. We sat down and talked about it afterwards, and all of us thought that one of the others was going to say something. I still to this day feel guilty for not trying to help the worker in some way. The incident helped me to realize that you cannot sit and wait for others to take action, because they may not. It also made me painfully aware that racism still exists in our society.
  • Do you have a favorite quote? Why is it important to you?
  • What is something about you that few people know?
  • What is something about you that people who meet you should know?
  • What is your favorite activity? How did you get involved in that activity?
  • What activity do you spend most of your time participating in, and why is that activity important to you?
  • What makes you different than all of the thousands of other applicants applying to that college?
  • If your life were a movie, what type of protagonist would you be? Write about one scene from the movie of your life.
  • What is an issue that is important to you? Take a position on it, and try to convince the admissions officer of your point of view. Remember not to seem too "preachy."
  • How would your best friend describe you?
  • Tell about a challenge that you have faced, and how it has made you stronger.
  • Think about something that was important to you freshman year, but is no longer as important to you. What happened? How did you change through high school? What has lead to your growth?
  • What is your favorite book/movie/television show? Why is it your favorite? What does that say about you?
  • If you were an animal, which would you be and why?
  • What do you do when you are not sleeping or doing homework?