Here are a few more examples of common essays that fall short of their potential impact.
Essay Topic #5: Immigrating to the U.S. / Adopting a New Culture
Every immigrant struggles to learn a new language and culture. These barriers alone don’t tell us much that’s unique about you. Get to the heart of what this experience meant to you personally by telling us about the specific things you had to adapt to. Describe how difficult (and, hopefully, how rewarding) it was to balance your schoolwork and other activities when so many elements of your daily life were in transition. How did this learning experience influence the person you are today and the person you aim to be?
Essay Topic #6: Community Service Far From Home
A visit to an underprivileged nation is surprisingly common. Reading about the same type of “once-in-a-lifetime” experience dozens of times makes it seem precisely the opposite. To stand out from this crowd, be sure to show us not only how eye-opening your experience was, but how you’ve carried the new knowledge you gained into your everyday life. This makes your story unique and tells us what kind of person you have the potential to be.
Essay Topic #7: Repeating Your Résumé
If you simply rehash what we’ll already see elsewhere in your application, you’re wasting a valuable opportunity to show us who you really are. If you can’t think of yourself as more than a list of activities and accomplishments, how can we? Outside of your admissions interview, your essay is your best opportunity to shine. So move beyond your academic and extracurricular achievements to write about something—whether it’s on your résumé or not—that impacted you profoundly.
The Bottom Line: Keep the focus of your essay on you, regardless of your topic. Show us how something changed you, why it matters to you, and what you want to do with it.
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