Application Essay


    What Admissions Officers are looking for:

    You: Reveal something about yourself that you have not revealed elsewhere in the application; offer another, more personal look at yourself.

    Surprise: Approach the topic of your essay from an unexpected angle-even if the experience is ordinary.

    Genuineness: Write without pretension and without taking yourself too seriously.

    Thoughtfulness: Write what you think about your experience and its meaning to yourself or to others (or to both).

    And how to help them find it

    • Think about who your audience is. Probably five or six recent graduates of the college and a director of admissions are reading your essay, all of whom have spent the last month reading thousands of applications.
    • Think about your purpose. Instead of thinking about "selling yourself" or "getting in," focus on being yourself, which usually means writing about yourself in human, rather than superhuman, terms.
    • Focus. Instead of generalizing about your experience ("I like sports"), be as specific as you can. (Write about a single baseball game that you will always remember, whether or not your team won).
    • Use precise and economical language.
    • Give your essay momentum. Make its parts work together and move to a point.
    • Use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Be sure to proofread your essay.

    Looking for a new approach? A different angle?

    Try using one of these questions to get your essay going.

    1. Recall a snatch of conversation you overhead while standing in line, waiting for a movie to start, or riding a bus. Why did it catch your interest?
    2. Did you ever get something odd in the mail?
    3. Which bones have you broken and how?
    4. Which childhood possession do you still own?
    5. What do you remember about the first person who ever gave you a valentine?
    6. Have you ever told a lie you wish you could take back?
    7. Have you ever received praise from an unexpected source?
    8. Have you ever been someone’s hero?
    9. If you had to start collecting something, what would you collect?
    10. Do you have a hiding place?
    11. Have you ever had an idea for an invention?
    12. Which section of the newspaper do you always read first?
    13. When you and your classmates are reminiscing at your tenth reunion, which one of your escapades or accomplishments do you think you will be remembered for?
    14. Name one thing you were taught in high school that you do not believe.
    15. Is your best friend from ninth grade still your best friend?
    16. Have you ever traveled to a place you want never to visit again?
    17. Have you ever played it safe and regretted it?
    18. Have you ever taken a chance and regretted it?
    19. Have you done something recently that you laugh about every time you think of it?
    20. Has someone ever turned to you for help because you have a particular talent, skill, or kind of knowledge?
    21. Have you ever pulled a great practical joke? A successful scam?
    22. What unusual features would you include in the design of your ideal house?
    23. What is the worst time you have ever had at an event where a good time was the point?
    24. What is the most embarrassing thing you have ever done?
    25. What is the dullest thing you have ever done?
    26. What is the best advice you have ever received? The worst?
    27. How did you learn to ride a bike, or ice skate, or drive a car?
    28. After your last argument, what did you wish you had said?
    29. Do you ever wonder what a famous person does when no one is looking?
    30. Have you ever experienced an irrepressible urge to laugh in a formal circumstance or during a solemn event?