Education Consulting

Boutique is an education consultancy that specializes in editing and enhancing the admissions application essay, as well as other education services. Founded by Juli Min, Harvard and Andover alumna.

My College Essays

I wrote two college essays. One was about singing in a high school rock band. One was about my mother’s influence on my life. I’ll give you a summary of both essays, and then explain why I chose to write about the two topics. Note, my essays didn’t really have titles - I just created them for this post.

1. Band of Brothers

I was in a funk rock band in high school. I was the singer and lyricist, and there were three others in the band with me - Nathan (bass), Geoff (guitar), and Jason (drums). The essay was thematically about the idea of “brotherhood.”

I thought this was pretty clever, since, well, I’m a girl. But the point that I was trying to get across through my essay was that the friendships that I made at school with my bandmates (who happened to be boys) taught me lessons about friendship, loyalty, teamwork - in a word, brotherhood. But through the group experience, I also learned a lot about myself, about music, and about my own tastes and goals.

2. The Decision that Changed My Life

I wrote another essay about the influence my mother has had on me. The essay centered on the story of her deciding to leave a pretty horrible marriage to raise my sister and me on her own. She made her decision in large part so that my sister and I might see her as a woman who respects herself and stands up for herself, and so that we might also become strong, independent women ourselves one day. The essay included some backstory on my parents’ relationship, some explanation of the trials she went through on her own, analysis of the impact of her action on my life, how I’ve tried to be like her in some ways, and how I’m still learning. My mother is one of the bravest, most independent, smart, and resourceful women I know, and her actions changed the course of my life.


Why did I write these two essays?

I wrote on these topics because they were moments in time when my life (because of my actions or choices, or the actions or choices of someone close to me) could have veered in another direction. I changed and grew so much because I formed a band with three friends. My life took a completely different path when my mother left Korea and her marriage to raise us on her own. 

There are moments like these in every person’s life. They can be big or small, dramatic or quiet. They may be experiences of intense joy and optimism, or they may be periods of immense doubt and challenge. If you were to try to come up with these moments for yourself, try to visualize your life as a straight line that begins at the point when you are born. It continues on in a straight and consistent way for some time, maybe months or years or decades, until something happens to you or your family or even your country. Maybe you fall down and hurt yourself; maybe your family moves; maybe you fall in love with a piece of music or a book. At that point, the line bends to a certain degree because you have changed, and it begins to take another path. It continues straight on that path for a while until the next life-defining change occurs. Your job is to identify these junctures, these moments of change. What happened, why, who was involved, and how did you grow as a result? 

In other words, find X: I would be totally different if X hadn't happened.

Obviously, this is just one way of brainstorming subjects for college essays. My essays were two experiences I wanted to write about when I was 18; only later did I try to analyze how I might have gotten to my ideas in general. For a college essay, you can write about anything - your favorite object, a joke you heard once, the way you decorate your room. The options are endless really. But if you’re stuck, trying to think about the “moments of your life” is one way to get started.