Students aiming for a range of college acceptances will want to draft the best possible essays. However, to write any college application essay, you first need the subject matter. Here, we have verified tips for choosing what personality aspects to get you going. With this advice in your pocket, you are exponentially more prepared to highlight your strengths and craft your story with skill!
The purpose of a college essay varies by school. Some schools require only one essay, but most others ask for multiple supplements. For instance, while the Common App has one main essay, individual schools may require additional submissions. Regardless of quantity, quality matters.
It’s true, some institutions may only pay cursory attention to your submitted writing. On the other hand, a growing number of admissions committees not only pay attention to your writing but place the weight of your college app on the essay! Putting your best foot forward with strong writing will always benefit you. With all this in mind, let’s get down to the business of deciding where to start.
How do I choose what aspect of my personality to write about in each essay?
Your central academic theme—sometimes referred to as a “spike” or a “hook”—makes up a continuous thread throughout your academic journey. Your passion for this central theme should come across in your application when you talk about your extracurriculars and interests, as well as your grades and test scores.
Nonetheless, try not to sound like a walking textbook. Colleges are looking for not just what kind of student you will be, but also what kind of person you will be on campus. Therefore, it makes sense that a large number of your essays should display your values and personality so that the readers can understand you both as a student and as a person.
How many of the short answers should I focus on my central academic theme? How many should I dedicate to other aspects of my life?
When discussing your academic passion in the application essays, you should predominantly only address it when probed or asked. Repeat yourself as minimally as possible. Many colleges will ask why you chose your major, and that will be the perfect opportunity to discuss your interest in that field.
Since you only have so many essays to get your point across, focusing on academics in one essay per school would be a great rule of thumb. It is advisable that you focus more on your personality and other interests than your spike.
Does this advice change depending on the school?
You can still follow the same rule of thumb as above. If you feel it should be adjusted for other circumstances—only change your reasoning for applying to that particular university. Still, try not to overly focus on your academic interest to the exclusion of your other characteristics!
Although many colleges require you to choose a major when applying, they also accept that many of their students will change their minds at some point. So, while it is important to detail your reasoning for applying to that particular university (and those are the details you should change for each school), it likely won’t affect your odds of getting in.
The bottom line: it’s not necessary to spend several prompts discussing your major—regardless of school.
What other aspects of their personalities and/or lives do successful students write about?
Generally, students write about a few common experiences.
- Passion projects (businesses they formed, Eagle Scout projects, etc.)
- Events in their lives that changed them or drove them to apply to that particular university (living in a different country, losing or finding a loved one, mission trips, etc.)
- A creative topic or story that displays who they are as a person (but that’s a tough one!)
There are infinite possibilities for rich storytelling material that you might not recognize at first. An external source, like a trained college admissions counselor, can help you tease out the gold!
If you’d like to work with an Empowerly representative to find out what services could help you reach your dreams, don’t wait. Start with a friendly conversation today.