Besides having an original essay, you need to make sure that it reveals something about you. It cannot just be a mere description of a person, place or thing. Simply describing the person you met and the places you visited will do nothing. You want to reflect on an aspect of your life, preferably one that you are proud of. You have to speak about the person you met and the places you visited who / which moulded your character or motivated you to do what you want to do. As you go through your list of topics, eliminate those that are not really important in your life. What is important is what really mattered / matters in your life.
Let’s examine this by looking at a common question that colleges ask - “What’s your favorite book?" The truth is that it doesn’t matter if you write about Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment or Doctor Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham. What the admission officer really wants to know is what your choice of book reveals about you. It would be a huge mistake to write a book report or analysis of the characters. It would also be a mistake to write about a book that you think is impressive sounding but didn’t really have an influence on your life.
Revealing something about you is also more than a simple retelling of your life and achievements. Admission officers expect you to demonstrate your ability to think and analyze through your writing. Therefore, if you simply retell an interesting story of a childhood experience or recount various accomplishments, you will fail to impress them. To uncover something meaningful, you need to spend time thinking and analyzing.
What did I learn from the experience?
Has it changed the way I think?
Has it motivated me to act?
How it influenced you?
Make sure you have a topic that will allow you to apply some rigorous analysis. If the topic is shallow or doesn’t allow you to present some aspect of yourself then don’t write about it. At this point it may be hard to tell if your topic will make a great essay. However, you should be able to eliminate those that are obviously unoriginal and that won’t provide any self-reflection. The shallow topics should be eliminated at the outset itself. Choose the topic which will guarantee you your admission.