I am currently working on writing the separate essays for the colleges I want to apply to, but I am confused and stuck on how to write them. Should they be more informative and formal, or should I write it as if I am telling a story, similar to the Common App essays? For instance, Emory University asks, “If you could go back in time, what advice would you offer yourself at the beginning of secondary/high school?”, and I am not sure if I should start by saying something like, “I would advise myself to…” or if I should start by explaining something that has happened to me during the year and leading on to a “Therefore,”.
Either way is perfectly fine, as long as your overall application answers (by showing, not telling) the real questions, which are:
“How are you a match to our values and the kind of students we are looking for?”
“What will you contribute to campus and/or our wider community?”
“How will you benefit the most from our resources and what we have to offer?”
“Why should we pick you over every other applicant?”
I see, so either way I write it, I should be writing it in a way where I show them instead of tell them with the points you listed in mind. Thank you!
How would you show something instead of telling it? This is what I’m struggling with the most because I’m afraid that if I’m not direct and blunt with my answers that the admissions reader won’t get an accurate message that I’m trying to tell across.
Emory’s prompt is very helpful.
To give an example:
Telling an admissions officer that you are concerned about homelessness will not come off as very sincere if you’ve never volunteered at a shelter or soup kitchen (or only spent a total of one or two shifts there), right?
A bad essay would hype those two shifts, offer up a cliched lesson learned, profess your love and concern for the destitute in hopes of convincing the college you’re a great person.
But if your extracurricular list says you volunteered 150+ hours each year all four years at that shelter, you don’t have to say you care. They’ll know because your actions spoke louder than your words.
A good essay would then highlight a moment or a task that was important to you or a shelter guest who made an impression on you. This would reveal aspects of your personality that may not be demonstrated elsewhere on the application, but happen to match what the college values or is looking for.
If you have to be “direct and blunt” that could still be okay. But do give careful thought as to what the rest of your application is not saying about you that needs to be said, and why it might not be clearly sending the message you want it to.