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The 25 Worst Ways to Start Your College Essay

Writing a good college admissions essay is a mixture of luck and just straight-up sorcery. If you’re having a hard time, you’re not alone. Nobody is banging out an essay in twenty minutes and doing a celebratory backflip out their bedroom window just to bring it all home. Everyone is struggling.

I’m sorry to say that I don’t know the secret. I don’t know how to ace those college essays; I do not know the incantations. All I do know is that you should never, under any circumstances, start your essay off with one of these…

1. If I had to describe myself in three words, they would be “anxious,” “itchy,” and “hungry.”

2. I’m involved in a number of extracurricular activities, such as jazz band, peer tutoring, and constantly enduring the existential dread unique to being alive.

3. Most people don’t have a favorite Germanic death god, but I sure do.

4. What sets me apart from the thousands of other applicants is that most of them probably haven’t spent a lot of time living outside the law.

5. If my demands aren’t met, I’m prepared to burn this place to the ground.

6. You’ll notice my entire essay is just pictures of pugs wearing hats, and no, that’s not a mistake.

7. It all started about eighteen years ago, when my parents decided to have me.

8. I know I’m late, but time is a social construct and your arbitrary “application deadline” means nothing in the vast chaos of an unfeeling universe.

9. Please let me in.

10. I think the biggest issue facing society today is that we as a species can’t decide if the waffle taco is inherently good or evil.

11. One time I overcame adversity by just, like, trying really hard.

12. Ernest Hemingway once said, “Write drunk, edit sober,” so with that in mind I’d like to make a confession.

13. I’m a Libra. That should tell you pretty much all you need to know.

14. My favorite historical figure? Napoleon Bonaparte. I mean whoo, boy. Dude sure knew how to wear a pair of buckskin breeches.

15. My talents include complaining, criticizing other people’s fashion choices, and bloodletting.

16. My long-term goals: graduate in four years, find a decent job in my field, and have a sizable amount in my 401k by the time I’m 35. My short-term goals: find out how many Crunchwrap Supremes is too many.

17. I would like to attend this school because my parents are forcing me to write this essay. They’re literally breathing down my neck as we speak. Please send help.

18. I’m not that great at writing, so in place of an admissions essay, please accept this artfully constructed, many-layered meme.

19. The way things are going, I’m betting the world will end in 2023, which means the reckoning is nigh and none of this matters.

20. My greatest fear? Using my turn signal too early and being THAT guy.

21. My favorite book is the one I’m going to write some day. My second-favorite book is The Da Vinci Code.

22. If I could bring anyone from history back to life, it would be the fearsome pirate Blackbeard. Where’s the treasure, Eddie?

23. For me, the road to self-actualization began the first time I ever set something on fire.

24. I have many interests, including but not limited to sharks, bread, and the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

25. A problem I would like to solve is global poverty, and also the pernicious misconception that Thin Mints are the best Girl Scout Cookie when clearly it is Tagalongs.