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Articles / Applying to College / Can I Write All My Essays on The Same Topic?

Dec. 17, 2019

Can I Write All My Essays on The Same Topic?

Can I Write All My Essays on The Same Topic?

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My passion is robotics, and I am hoping to go into the prosthetics field to work on robotic limbs eventually, so my major is biomedical engineering. I've been answering all of my essay/short answer questions about robotics. It's my favorite extracurricular, it's the subject of books I read, it's what I do in my free time, and it's my career dream. My counselor said colleges want to see a more well-rounded side of me so they know me better, so she thinks I should change some of the essay topics to talk about something other than robotics. But I'm not answering like this just to get accepted — these are all true answers. Should I change the subject of the essays?


Back in the (very) old days when "The Dean" was your age, we were told that being well-rounded was a college admission imperative. But today, many admission officials actually prefer applicants with clear-cut passions like yours. So my initial instinct is to say, "No! Don't change those essays because they're honest and they reveal what makes you tick."

However, your counselor MAY be right in advising you to make some changes, but only IF ...

- You are required to write more than one essay and one or two short-answer responses for the same college. If your applications demand answers to multiple essays and short-answer questions, then it is advisable that you highlight some other side of yourself in at least one of them.

- Your essays and short answer questions are repetitive. If they each reveal different aspects of your robotics experiences and your engineering-related activities and goals and thus complement each other, then writing about only robotics is fine. But if you find yourself saying more or less the same thing in each response, then you need to choose a new topic for at least one prompt.

Of course, it's impossible to advise you effectively without seeing the actual questions and answers. As noted above, perhaps a few changes are warranted, but certainly make sure that — if you do make any adjustments — your passion for robotics still comes across loud and clear.

About the Ask the Dean Column

Sally Rubenstone is a veteran of the college admissions process and is the co-author of three books covering admissions. She worked as a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years and has also served as an independent college counselor, in addition to working as a senior advisor at College Confidential since 2002. If you'd like to submit a question to The Dean please email us at editorial@collegeconfidential.com.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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