A Guide to Writing College Admission Essays Using Movies as Themes

Going to college is a major turning point in your life, and getting into a good one ensures that you are making the right turn.  While the main principle in writing is “to express, not to impress,” you need to do both when writing a college admission essay.  Although it really is the content that matters, creativity sure counts, especially since the Admissions Board has to go through hundreds, and sometimes even thousands, of essays from those aspiring to be college freshmen.  Half the work is to stand out from the rest.  

There are several ways that you can go about constructing your essay.  You may write about your childhood and travel experiences or even an ordinary but profound conversation with someone, all of which have made significant impact in your life and career choices.  Some applicants have achieved success in gaining entry to colleges of their choice by using their favorite movies as the theme of their admission essays.  

Why movies make interesting topics for college admission essays

A movie is a story about people and their motivations.  Therefore, it is easy to find a film that you can relate to.  If so, you may wonder, why use a movie when you can write your own story?  Most people at this stage are yet to embark on their own adventures and create their own stories, so using a movie as a theme is often easier.

What important elements should be included in your essay

Choosing the right movie for your admission essay is important.  Keep in mind that the purpose of your essay is to persuade your readers, that is the Admissions Board, to approve your application.  Make sure that you choose a movie that represents your personal goals and beliefs.  Remember that you are not doing a literary analysis of the film, so at the pre-writing stage, brainstorm more about the character and his or her motivations and values.  Take note of twists in the plot which are similar with what you have experienced, especially those that prompted you to make the decision to go back to school or choose a particular course.  You need not focus on one character.  If your personal beliefs could be best explained by comparing and contrasting two characters, then do so as long as you keep the flow of your essay tight.  Do not get too caught up in the storytelling that you miss out on the objective of showing your readers that your thoughts are well-organized.  For this reason, it is important to make a good outline before you start writing.

What movie genre helps make a good essay outline

Students who are into writing may be so good at it that they can make a good outline, no matter what genre or theme they use for their essays.  If you are not that much of a writer, choosing a road movie can make the task a lot easier.  A road movie is a film genre in which the plot takes place during a journey, and the character evolves into a better person in the end.  It has a distinct, episodic structure which can help you outline your essay better.  First, you can begin with writing about certain challenges that you have encountered in your life.  You may point out which obstacles you were able to overcome and why you think you were not able to go past the others.  After discussing your major points, you may end your essay in two ways: one, tell how you would want to “return home” wiser from your personal journey in college; or two, how you think a college degree would help you embark on a new and bigger destination.

Nancy Haverford provides tips for effective and free college admission essays. In this article, she helps aspiring freshmen to write free college admission essays using movies as themes.


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