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Articles / Applying to College / Famous Female for Essay Topic?

Dec. 15, 2010

Famous Female for Essay Topic?

Question: I have to write an essay about an important woman figure for an application supplement. I know that this college takes their supplement into consideration and I want to impress. I have thought about many different women, but none who would really make the college accept me. Any ideas here?

Your choice of essay topic will not make or break your acceptance so don't sweat too much over it. I promise you that, if you don't get admitted to this particular college, it won't be because of the important woman figure you chose to write about.


But, nonetheless, I can certainly understand that you want to select an essay subject that will help you stand out in a crowd. So, to do this, I suggest that you avoid the most obvious choices. Skip Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, Mother Teresa and Joan of Arc! Instead, work backwards. Think about things that are meaningful to you ... your favorite artwork, book, or music. How about an issue that has affected your world (Gay Rights? Teen pregnancy? Alcohol abuse?) Then Google whatever you have selected and look for the names of women with a connection to it.

For instance, my mother and several close friends of mine have had breast cancer. So, if were to look up breast cancer, I might stumble upon the name Susan G. Komen and find information like this: http://blog.cleveland.com/westsidemom/2010/06/who_was_susan_g_komen.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_G._Komen_for_the_Cure .

Susan was a young woman who succumbed to this disease after a three-year battle. Her younger sister, Nancy Goodman Brinker, founded an organization in her memory which has evolved into the best known and most successful breast-cancer fundraising enterprise in existence. In addition to raising money, Susan G. Komen for the Cure (formerly known as The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation) also helps educate women about breast-cancer screenings, treatments, etc.

Thus, if this were my essay assignment, I would focus on Nancy Brinker … writing not only about how she launched this huge enterprise in her sister's memory but also personalizing the essay to discuss how breast cancer has touched my own life and thus how I feel personally connected to Nancy Brinker.

That's what I mean by “working backwards." Identify something that is important to you and then link it to a woman who might be a fitting subject for your essay. Give it a try and see if you can come up with a creative and meaningful subject. Good luck!

(posted 12/14/2010)

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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