right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Concerned about how to pay for college amid COVID-19 economic changes? Join us for a webinar on Thu, Apr. 9 at 5pm ET. REGISTER NOW and let us know what questions you have and want answered.
Check out our newest addition to the Student Lounge. Go to the "STUDENT HERE: Ask Me Anything!" and connect with fellow students who can answer your school specific questions!
Most of the decisions are in by now. Connect with fellow students and share support for those who didn't get the best news.

Can my college essay be something I've already published?

lexinizlexiniz 4 replies1 threads New Member
edited February 20 in College Essays
I wrote an article in my school paper about my transition from nyc to rural minnesota and how it impacted my studies and my life. If I edit this to fit my personal statement a little better but still kept the premise/much of it the same could I submit this to colleges for a transfer application, or does it have to be totally original?
edited February 20
16 replies
Post edited by MaineLonghorn on
· Reply · Share

Replies to: Can my college essay be something I've already published?

  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 7468 replies76 threads Senior Member
    It can be anything you like as long as you wrote it yourself, published or not.

    But: re-think it carefully, and be prepared to do more than a little editing. Both the purpose and the audience for the two essays are quite different.

    Think of your application as a whole: you only have so much space to demonstrate why you would be a better addition to the class of XX. Make sure that the essay you submit fits into the overarching narrative that you are building.
    · Reply · Share
  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35301 replies399 threads Senior Member
    I think you could be seriously misunderstanding the point of an essay in a college application versus an interest piece for a hs newspaper.

    It depends where you're applying. But this is not a writing sample or open topic for a hs teacher. How your move impacted your life may not convey the points and traits adcoms *need* to see, in reviewing you for their class. It could be amusing or a stab at profound and not your most relevant effort. That can be a big issue. Do you feel you understand what your college targets DO want to learn in the personal statement?

    And for most kids, you've got 10 months to find your best shot. What's the rush and why the shortcut?
    · Reply · Share
  • LindagafLindagaf 10171 replies564 threads Senior Member
    Remember that the goal of the essay is for colleges to get to know you. A Columbia admissions officer once said that your essay should convey who you are so well that if it fell on the floor and a friend picked it up, the friend would immediately know that it’s you.

    If the essay can do that with some tweaking, it could be a fine topic. Do consider the colleges you are applying to, as well.
    · Reply · Share
  • RichInPittRichInPitt 2078 replies33 threads Senior Member
    Is there some specific prompt where this story would be relevant? If so, using your own writing is fine.

    But don't try to force fit something written for a different purpose.
    · Reply · Share
  • PublisherPublisher 10400 replies130 threads Senior Member
    edited February 16
    Not sure that I agree with the thought that one should be recognizable to a friend from a college essay as it may be a bit too superficial. A college essay should reveal something about the applicant which is not obvious.

    Using a published piece that reveals something about you that is not readily apparent from your application is fine so long as it responds to the essay prompt.

    Nevertheless, my concern about OP's situation is that it is a transfer application. A transfer application should focus on why you want and/or need to switch schools. I doubt that one's move from NYC to a rural area would address the reasons that one needs to transfer schools unless OP is transferring to a school in NYC. Most often transfer apps focus on academic concerns or urgent need to be close to family.
    edited February 16
    · Reply · Share
  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 6165 replies26 threads Senior Member
    Simply no.... Besides the essay expressing who you are how does it match the schools mission or what they stand for? Plus you might want to present this as a published piece in your Ec section or talk about it somewhere else.

    I also don't agree with the dropping the paper analogy but totally understand it. My son happened to have a side of him that no one at school really knew about and wrote his essay on that. His family knew about it and it was an obvious (but not to him until we pressed him on it a bit), essay choice. Plus this had been written upon in different forms. What else you got?
    · Reply · Share
  • rickle1rickle1 2421 replies21 threads Senior Member
    Take the time, make the effort to really assess the prompts. The topic ( and perhaps pieces of existing work) may be great but you have grown since the original writing. Stretch yourself and view this as an opportunity to improve, share/ reveal more, etc.

    Consider other topics. Compare them to the existing one. What would be a more interesting read? One of the most important, if not THE most important aspects of your college essay is to be memorable to the AOs. Use that as a reference point.
    · Reply · Share
  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9493 replies361 threads Senior Member
    edited February 16
    I wrote an article in my school paper about my transition from nyc to rural minnesota....If I edit this to fit my personal statement.... could I submit this to colleges for a transfer application

    The article was about transitiong between high schools and you want to use it for a college transfer application? How does that relate to your reasons for wanting to change colleges? What does the new college offer that your current one doesn't? Make sure that whatever you write is relevant to your current situation.
    edited February 16
    · Reply · Share
  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35301 replies399 threads Senior Member
    All sorts of things could be recognizable as "you," if someone picked up your dropped essay. That doesn't make the topic relevant, at all, to a college application. The task isn't to tell them something everyone knows about you. Nor something no one knows.

    It's to supplement your app package in ways that make you an obvious "right choice" for their college. I'm not sure the move from super urban to rural does that. Obviously, we haven't read that essay. But maybe start by asking yourself what they *do* want to learn about you. Again, for that college, your app, not life in general.
    · Reply · Share
  • lexinizlexiniz 4 replies1 threads New Member
    I think I should clarify a little bit...

    I'm actually applying as a junior transfer student. I am currently the opinions editor for my campus paper. I wrote an editorial piece on how I developed my passion for writing/journalism through the hardships of moving to a place FOR COLLEGE so culturally different from my home. It is a piece that highlights my strengths as a writer and explains how Minnesota put me through hell (which is why – I explain – I want to transfer), but is the reason why I wish to pursue English/Journalism major at a different school.

    Every time I try to draft my personal statement or try to write a supplement on my extracurriculars, my heart wants to write about being an opinions editor, but it always comes out sounding super similar to my article. I wasn't sure if I could just use snippets from that in my essay or if it's some form of "self-plagiarism" that colleges wouldn't like.
    · Reply · Share
  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 6165 replies26 threads Senior Member
    So your telling your transfer school you can't adapt to new situations and different cultures? How does this speak to your new target school and their vision and culture at that school? The essay is not about you being a newspaper editor but mention it in a positive way. It's about you excelling on your new campus and maybe one way you will get involved in the campus community is through their newspaper etc.

    Read your school's mission statement then read this:
    https://pwp.gatech.edu/admission-blog/2017/05/16/admission-its-not-fair/
    · Reply · Share
  • lexinizlexiniz 4 replies1 threads New Member
    Hmmm... interesting point. I think I just misunderstood the prompt. I figured that if I'm applying specifically to the English department in each of these schools, they would want to know how my current school made me a passionate writer who will continue that diligence and focus at their institution. And that – although my current school fostered growth – my mental health/academic interests would benefit the most from transferring. Which is what my essay at its current state does.

    If that's not the goal, how should I write it to make it an interesting read? Is that even important? Or is it better to be dry and just say "blah, blah, blah is why I want to transfer, and blah blah is what I'd bring to this school." How important is style here? Especially considering I'm applying for English.
    · Reply · Share
  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 6165 replies26 threads Senior Member
    What's the prompt? Maybe others can chime in then
    · Reply · Share
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 7468 replies76 threads Senior Member
    edited February 19
    Unlike the UK, nobody in the English Dept will read your application. So, yes style will matter- but mostly if it's bad! And, they aren't interested in what your current school did / didn't do per se- you don't need to even mention your current school if you don't want to. They are more interested in whether you know enough about their school to know why it is a good fit both ways

    It is surprising how people can hear things. Where you might be thinking what you wrote says 'had a tough landing / moving on', somebody else might read it as 'can't adapt / won't stick it out'. One of my collegekids moved school / country / continent in grades 6 & 8., and moved schools again in grade 11. In a college interview she mentioned a specific challenge involved. The interviewer told her that she wasn't appreciating how privileged she was to have been able to live in all those countries. Seriously.

    The importance of your essay is somewhat linked to where you are applying. If you are applying to a large university with stats that are at the high end, you need something competent but not necessarily dazzling. If you are applying to a place that takes only a handful of transfer applicants dazzling is essential.
    edited February 19
    · Reply · Share
  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 6165 replies26 threads Senior Member
    ^^this. After reading how great your current school is I wonder why are you leaving it then?

    You can say you became a passionate writer due to xxx... Maybe something that is about you.

    Also there must be something in the courses, professors,major, etc in the college catalog that excites you about your potential transfer school? That would be great to know.

    How will you use your talents at your new school? Look at the clubs /activities /organizations at that school. They want to know how you will fit, in their school. Not issues you had at your old school. Keep it positive not negative. You can say that in your first 2 years you learned x and that x is really important to you and the new school supports x in your goals.
    My daughter transferred as a junior also. Her first school couldn't support her major that she wanted since they really didn't offer it. She spoke more to what school B could offer her with her educational goals. Not what school A couldn't offer. Make sense?
    · Reply · Share
  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35301 replies399 threads Senior Member
    Agree. It's difficult to tell them, on one hand, that you're such a great and ardent writer, but on the other, that you can't hack it where you are and need a different environment. And I'd say mentioning mental health is a no-no. The intellectual strength and world awareness to carry that off well is usually years away.

    Great writers don't exist just for the college context, whether assignments or ECs. Unfortunately, it's up to you, the writer, to come up with the convincing reasons for a transfer. If it can't be done with your writing as a topic, try finding another way.
    · Reply · Share
Sign In or Register to comment.

Recent Activity