Why it's Important to Stay True to Yourself When Writing Your College Essay

Student Life

For many students, college is right around the corner, and this means writing essays for colleges. While this can be nerve-racking, it's also a chance to show colleges who you are as a person as each person is different in their own right. Sometimes it can be hard to find a unique characteristic that would stick out to a college. Here's how you can show each college you apply to who you are and what is unique about you. So much of the college process is about covering everything in gold leaf and making yourself look as perfect as possible. Contrary to what so many (incorrectly) say, the college essay isn’t about pitching yourself as a perfect person; it’s about being yourself.

1.) Have a personal anecdote about a lesson you've learned.

While many students struggle to find a memorable opening to their essay, sometimes all they need is a personal anecdote to start them off and then the essay practically writes itself! This is especially useful for those who want to take a creative approach to their essay, but don’t know how to. Of course, this strategy doesn't apply to every essay prompt but it definitely works in a pinch!

2.) Write your essay as though you're introducing a friend.

This is definitely an interesting way of highlighting your unique qualities. We've all had to introduce a contact to a family member, another friend, etc, so describe yourself as though you are introducing a contact to someone who's never met them. This method allows you to get a new perspective on the quality or qualities that you may not necessarily believe are unique about you.

3.) Ask your friends and family what they believe are your best qualities.

This one may seem rather obvious, but it's useful. Try texting a few close friends. Ask them what three words they’d use to describe you and start from there. Sometimes what they say will surprise you, and it might even give you insight into yourself that triggers an essay-worthy idea. Your family and friends can provide different aspects of you that you may not believe is unique as well as give some new perspectives. This method can also be combined with other methods for an even better essay!

4.) Pick a character trait.

The first step is to pick an aspect of yourself that you want the essay to highlight. There are countless options to pick from. It might seem like a fun challenge to try to sell yourself on pessimism and impatience, but this is the time to show who you are as a person and what your true character is. You could highlight kindness, sincerity, determination, persistence, or your passion for cooperative thinking.

These methods are all well and good but is there a reason behind extenuating your uniqueness to a college? Absolutely. Thousands of students are applying to colleges across the country. This can make it hard for colleges to differentiate between students. By highlighting personal qualities such as determination, perseverance, or even creativity, a college is more likely to notice you and even offer scholarships! You have 250-650 words. The only requirement is that you have to fit your essay into that space. Other than that you can do almost anything. You can write a screenplay, a lyric essay, a poem, the possibilities are endless! You can write a monologue or a comedy scene or a recipe. You can be playful, serious, funny, introspective, or all of the above. Although these methods could be used to start the essay or help to show your creative side, they shouldn’t take the place of a traditional essay format. No matter how you start your essay, it needs a beginning, middle, and end that tells the reader something about yourself that they aren’t getting elsewhere in your application. So have some fun with it and give yourself permission to try things that are out of the ordinary, because part of standing out in a positive way is doing something that is different from the status quo.

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Kaley Buck

Kaley enjoys reading anything she can get her hands on as well as writing about anything. She is about to be a senior in high school while taking dual enrollment courses. She aims to stay busy and do her best at everything she does.


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