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How to write a college essay without sounding arrogant?

fallenxmindfallenxmind 83 replies16 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
edited May 2010 in College Essays
I'm just wondering... I know you're supposed to try to incorporate your knowledge and accomplishments within the college essays. But how would you do it in a humble, modest way?
edited May 2010
30 replies
Post edited by fallenxmind on
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Replies to: How to write a college essay without sounding arrogant?

  • bnguyen91bnguyen91 4 replies4 threadsRegistered User New Member
    You could discuss the struggles and hardships you went through to achieve your goals and accomplishments, how it changed/impacted you into the person you are today, and the implications they hold for your future.
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  • anonymityyyanonymityyy 254 replies23 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I didn't really include anything about my knowledge, accomplishments or struggles in my essays, and it worked out fine for me.
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  • T26E4T26E4 23243 replies1031 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Maybe this will help
    Essays, Admission Information, Undergraduate Admission, U.Va.

    Admittedly, writing an introspective essay is an uncommon experience. Good luck to you
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  • paulaturcottepaulaturcotte 143 replies26 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I think everyone should read Harry Bauld's book "On Writing The College Application Essay". It helped me so much - I used a metaphor of a first boyfriend to my love of reading. It was witty, interesting and didn't end up sounding arrogant or cliched!
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  • glassesarechicglassesarechic 5471 replies16 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    It was witty, interesting and didn't end up sounding arrogant or cliched!

    How ironic.

    I think your best bet is to go into the writing process without saying to yourself "Okay, I need to work in X, Y, and Z accomplishment." You're writing to convey something less tangible about yourself than your accomplishments--after all, they have a list to refer to elsewhere in your app. So instead keep your essay narrow and focused. I find that writing about a particular instance in vivid detail is a much better tactic than an amorphous conglomeration of your abstract qualities (honesty! perserverance!). All the better if you can work in a metaphor or parallel to some abstract quality through that moment.
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  • paulaturcottepaulaturcotte 143 replies26 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    HAha, yeah I just realized how that sounded :) whoooops!
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  • ljb96ljb96 31 replies6 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Your grades and scores will give colleges information about your intelligence. Use your essay to help them see the person behind the scores. Write about something that is important to you and explain why it is important. Let them see that you are passionate about something. Have some fun writing the essay.
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  • happysunnyshinehappysunnyshine 864 replies338 threadsRegistered User Member
    Is it a good idea to write about how my ideology is shattered by the reality? Will I sound too pessimistic and idealistic and deemed "not fit" even for the current society?
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  • ReturntheFavaReturntheFava 40 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    First off this is an excellent question..it is imperative to think about how your essay comes off in the eyes of the AdCom. I believe today one of the most important factors is to come off humble but strong. They certainly are not looking for kids that are arrogant..so again good question.

    I think you can literally say it...if the case is that you are from a well known wealthy suburb for instance you can write that you realize that you have been given opportunities in your life that you are lucky to have. It might be in the essay where you are highlighting community service for instance and you might have done this as a way to give back.
    Another way is to make sure you are not talking about yourself throughout your essays. Highlighting people that have helped you along the way or pointing out ways others have inspired you with their strength shows the reader a depth that they like to see.
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  • applicannotapplicannot 4292 replies74 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I second Harry Bauld's "On Writing the College Application Essay."
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  • Objective789Objective789 424 replies9 threadsRegistered User Member
    I know of someone who was admitted to Harvard with a personal statement essay about his appreciation for Japanese manga comic books. Don't sweat it.
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  • schoolisfunschoolisfun 1103 replies135 threads- Senior Member
    ^LOL really?
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  • Objective789Objective789 424 replies9 threadsRegistered User Member
    Yes, true. Think of the poor sap admissions counselors reading the barrage of essay drivel. Something that stands out as creative or interesting will certainly get more notice than the usual self-promotional crap.
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  • CaliforniaDancerCaliforniaDancer 1565 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I third Harry Bauld's book. It was ever so slightly outdated, IMO, but incredibly helpful.
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  • ReturntheFavaReturntheFava 40 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Yes I agree it has to be interesting and descriptive rather than self promoting and preachy.
    One way is to highlight achievments in a moment of time. You were at your internship one day and this happened. In this way you can make the reader aware of your accomplishment
    without saying it directly. To prepare to write it recall details of what was going on the moment or day something significant happened..those details will be the best part of the essay..allowing you to be funny, descriptive and unique in perspective.
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  • BennnieBennnie 292 replies23 threadsRegistered User Member
    From everything that I've read or heard, the last thing the admissions dept. want is another list of your accomplishments. They want to know who you really are as a person, they want to be interested in you. They don't want to hear that you scored the winning basket in a championship game, they want to know what it meant to you to work hard to get to the point where you were in a championship game.

    Make them want to keep reading and not have their eyes glaze over and be thinking to themselves "I scored the winning basket, yada, yada, yada, you and the last six essays I've read..."
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  • YurtleYurtle 828 replies22 threadsRegistered User Member
    I know of someone who was admitted to Harvard with a personal statement essay about his appreciation for Japanese manga comic books. Don't sweat it.

    I wrote an essay about manga, comics, harry potter, star trek, and dungeons & dragons. I wrote another about being a scientist "capturing" the "Yurtle specimen of the species Homo Sapiens Sapiens" (UChicago), I wrote one comparing an entire college to the brush strokes of a chinese painting, one about books talking to me, and one that proclaimed "God is Art."

    I wouldn't worry about sounding arrogant, so much as sounding interesting. As long as you make it clear you know that you don't know everything, then I think you're less likely to come off arrogant. Confidence, intelligence, and even a lack of being entirely humble may not be so bad though.

    Personally, I'd have someone double check my essays, because there's a fine line between pride and annoying arrogance.
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  • kmaurakkmaurak 25 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I just came across this last night, and it seems timely. It's advice from an admissions officer at Oberlin College about the college application essay.

    Oberlin Blogs | Blog Entry: "My advice on the college essay"
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  • EnlightenedLuLuEnlightenedLuLu 62 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Instead of worrying about sounding arrogant, I am more worried about my essay sounding too whiny or wanting pity. This especially applies to essays about personal hardships. I mean, I have many hardships, but I don't feel very comfortable with writing about them because it sounds like you're asking for the reader's pity. It makes it sound something like "oh, you should accept me because I've gone through so much and you should pity me." <--- That's what I'm more worried about my essays will sound like.
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  • KeilexandraKeilexandra 5360 replies132 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I know of someone who was admitted to Harvard with a personal statement essay about his appreciation for Japanese manga comic books.
    I know someone who was admitted early-write to Stanford with a Common App essay on a Japanese manga character and a supplement essay on hoodies.
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