Writing an outstanding college essay is not an easy task. However, listed below are several questions I use with my students to brainstorm. I ask the student to think about what they would say to an admissions officer if they happened to be sitting across a desk from her. What makes you stand out? What makes you unique? Once you have an idea, just write, write, write. Don't worry about the length until you tell your story. Try not to edit it as you go and don't be afraid to use the word "I". Be careful not to throw your resume into the essay. The essay comes with your application...the admissions director knows you are the captain of the lacrosse team or you had the lead in the play. The essay doesn't have to be about a life-changing event-it can be about a moment in time. It does need to be well-written, with no typos and truly help the admissions committee understand who you are.
How do I spend my time?
What do I like to do?
What do I think about most of the time?
What are the things that truly matter to me?
What is my family like? Do we have any interesting rituals about dinners or board games or TV shows?
What would I say about myself if I had to omit any mention of my extracurricular activities?
When I think about who I am or what I care about, is there a particular day, moment, or event that was important in shaping that?
If I had a chance to eavesdrop at my own funeral, what would people say about me?
If I had a day to do anything I wanted— no school, no work, no homework, no chores— what would I do?
What do I want this college to know about me?
What keeps me up at night?
What drives me, makes me tick?
What am I most proud of?
What are your favorite activities and hobbies? Why do you enjoy them?
Do you have any special talents or skills? These might be significant things—like playing piano or acting—or they might be more trivial things like juggling, doing a back-flip, etc.
What is your “role” in your family? (For example, are you the comedian? The responsible older sibling? The performer or athlete?)
Who in your life has been particularly influential or memorable?
What have you done during your high school summers that has been particularly meaningful, memorable, or difficult?
Have you worked any summer or after-school jobs? Describe. Was there a moment you can describe that made it special?
What was your best day or experience? The worst?
Is there anything you’ve done that, knowing what you know now, you would like to have done differently? Explain.
Please let me know if this is helpful!