Finding a good personal essay topic: Avoid making your essay a 'laundry list'

While brainstorming with a student in Mumbai there was a moment when he said, "How about I describe my room and all the interesting things in it? Wouldn't that be a good essay topic to write on?" He went on to describe the objects, memorabilia, view from his balcony, favorite 'thinking spot' and such that. "My room is the window to my life, wouldn't that be interesting for an admissions officer to read?"

This could be a great essay if written well. However it runs the risk of a cliched 'laundry list' essay where he forces a mishmash of unrelated thoughts and expects the reader to discover his uniqueness!