College Admissions: Should You Write About COVID-19?

Many high school seniors are beginning to prepare for college. You’ve likely researched schools you want to attend, majors that interest you, and what the admissions requirements and deadlines are. While SAT and ACT exams may be in limbo this year, one thing that hasn’t gone away is the popular admissions essay.

Some schools provide specific prompts to choose from, while others give students free reign to write about what they wish. Given the current state of the nation (and world), one of the most obvious topics to write about is COVID-19. It has impacted everything from education to employment to families to health. There are stories of triumph, challenges, adaptation, innovation, and resilience.

But does that make COVID-19 the best topic for your admissions essay? Not necessarily. Here’s why:

Why Not to Write About COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone. In the grand scheme of things, it is not an event or situation that is unique to you or that sets you apart. Millions of people are going through the same thing. Practically every school in the country shifted to remote learning. There were shelter in place orders across cities far and wide. While your exact circumstances may have been a little different from someone else’s, everyone was impacted.

The Common Application that many colleges and universities use added a space for a short essay where you can discuss the challenges you faced due to the coronavirus and share important information that you want the admissions committee to know. There is also still a space to provide other information not covered elsewhere in your application.

Writing About COVID-19

If you do decide to write about your experience during the coronavirus pandemic, make sure it is something unique that will capture the reader’s attention. What was so different about what happened to you or how you dealt with it than hundreds of other students who are applying? How has your experience transformed you and shaped who you are moving forward, and how will that make you an asset to the campus community?

Don’t just write a generic essay about how you were affected by quarantining, remote learning, and extracurriculars being cancelled. Choose something specific and make it powerful. If you can’t come up with a fresh perspective and compelling essay, choose something else.

Selecting a Topic for Your Admissions Essay

With everyone else jumping to write about COVID-19 and how they had to adjust to remote learning with siblings in the house or poor Internet access, or how it inspired them to make masks for others or deliver food to at-risk community members, now is your chance to do something different. Pick an essay topic that has nothing to do with COVID-19, or that is loosely tied to the situation but does not make it the main focus.

The pandemic has been going on for less than a year — what else have you done in your 16+ years of life? What other hardships have you endured, challenges have you overcome, or initiatives have you started? Where did you travel or volunteer before restrictions were put in place? How did you shift from the worst player on your rec league soccer team to captain of the varsity team at school?

Get creative and think beyond what is happening right in this moment. Crafting Scholars can help you polish your writing skills and mechanics in order to tell your story in an engaging, thought-provoking way that flows smoothly and makes sense. Contact us today to learn more about our writing programs!