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  Application Essay  


Example essay questions
Tips for addressing common application essay questions.


The "you" questions. "Tell us about yourself".
The "why do you want to attend this college" questions.
The Creative Questions.

"You" questions or personal statements. (Examples)

  • "Use this space to let us know something about you that we might not learn from the rest of your application."

  • "Your application is meant to help us learn more about you. What else would you like us to know?"

  • "Describe a significant interest, experience, challenge or value."

  • "How have you grown and developed over the 4 years of your high school career?"

  • "What is the biggest risk you have ever taken?"

  • "Evaluate a significant experience or achievement that has special meaning for you."

The "why do you want to attend this college" questions. (Examples)

  • "Why have you selected this college?"

  • "Why do you think you and college X would be a good match for each other?"

  • "Why have you chosen this college and major?"

  • "Review your reasons for attending college. Explain how earning a college degree will help fulfill your career goals."

The "be creative" questions. (Examples)

  • "Discuss some issue of personal, local or national concern and why it is important to you."

  • "If you had the chance to meet a famous person, past or present, who would it be, and why?"

  • "Write about a person who has had an influence on you, and describe that influence."

  • "Write about your favorite book or film and tell why it has influenced you."

  • "Relate the most humorous experience in your life."

  • "You have just finished writing your 300 page autobiography. Please submit page 217."


The "you" question. Tell us about yourself. How should you approach it?
The "why did you want to attend this college" question. Know your subject.
The "creative" question. If you are comfortable with taking risks, this is your chance.

How should you approach the "You" question?

  • Write about a subject you should know well---YOU! The purpose of this kind of question is to enable the college to get a clearer sense of who you are.

  • This is an open opportunity to reveal your "voice" and your personality. Take advantage of this. Your essay should focus on showing your personality, insights, ideas and a commitment to your goals.

  • A "you" question is usually very open-ended. Use the pre-writing techniques described in the next section to help narrow your choices down to just one or two things as examples of your best qualities.

  • Zero in on the essence of you by brainstorming and asking your friends and family to help you define who you are. Look at yourself and pick a version or interpretation that you are most comfortable with and write about it. Remember to back up this version with vivid events from your life to prove your interpretation of yourself.

  • Loosen up and have some fun with it. Remember that an admissions essay is generally considered an informal piece of writing. This is not an English essay. Try to achieve a natural feel or tone that reflects who you are.

The "why do you want to attend this college" question.

The best advice: KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. This question concerns a topic you should know a great deal about: the school you hope to attend.

  • This kind of question helps you focus the essay: "Why did you choose this school?" In the process of researching colleges and comparing them to what you feel is most important you should have developed a good idea why you are applying to a particular school.

  • It is important that you be clear about the real reasons a school appeals to you. You are probably more likely to succeed at a school where you really understand what the school expects from its students. The more in touch you are with your reasons, the more likely you will write a sincere essay that reflects the kind of commitment and attitude that the school is looking for.

  • Know about the college and simply state in a direct way why it is the school for you! Be able to provide proof to back up your assertion. Be specific in referring to your knowledge about the college, its programs, its philosophy, its professors, facilities and other aspects which make it a special place for you.

  • Be careful about indulging in too much praise for a school. Insincere flattery and rewriting passages (describing the advantages of a school) from college catalogs do not necessarily impress admissions officers.

The "creative" question. If you are comfortable with taking risks, this is your chance!

Creative questions are more open ended and are designed to push you towards taking some risks with your writing. Take advantage of the opportunity to explore some different ways of expressing yourself and some topics outside of the ordinary. You may find that responding to this kind of question can be fun.

  • Consider using an interesting title to help liven up your essay. Using an appropriate pun, play on words or some sort of connection between your essay and a popular film, story, or novel can be effective in catching your readers eye. Be careful to think these strategies out thoroughly and use a title that is appropriate and clever.

  • Be willing to take some risks with your writing style. Experiment with varied sentence structures (intentional use of incomplete sentences, or run ons), or try using narration or dialogue to bring your essay to life with realistic characters.

  • Use a varied vocabulary to sustain interest and readability. It is imperative you maintain an effective link with your reader by avoiding predictable prose. Re-read your work to edit out boring or trite phrases. Use a thesaurus to help avoid overuse of certain words, but remember to only use words you feel comfortable using.

  • Use humor to strengthen the impact of an essay. Humorous essays can be taken seriously by Admissions Officers if they are well done. If you haven't worked with humor in your writing previously, a college admissions essay is probably not the place to start. Don't attempt this strategy if you are not comfortable with this style of writing.

  • Remember, use the "creative question" to reveal yourself. Show who you are with well thought out examples of your interests, concerns, goals and accomplishments.