Your college application essay is not a book report, term paper, individual study project, blurb for the yearbook, or a short story for the school literary magazine. It’s a unique form of writing that many high school students have never done and the requirements are different. One of those is reflected in number eighteen of the twenty five ways to make your essay the best writing you’ve ever done…

#18. Embrace your individuality.

If you are passionate about a subject, let the reader feel it. A strong point of view reflects a well formed, active personality. Don’t go too far, of course, and avoid political issues of all kind.

Do you have a flair for creative turns of phrase? Is that a part of what makes you, you? If so, be sure to include them in your essay.

Wry sense of humor? Don’t be afraid to show it. Be sure to keep it clean (that means 100% G-rated, not even remotely suggestive) and don’t turn your essay into a Chris Rock rant. But humor can be an effective way to reveal yourself to an Admissions Committee.

So can passion. If you have an atypical interest or better yet, an obsession, this can become the spine of a compelling essay. An example of this comes from a student of mine whose hobby was studying WWII, and had even gone on several trips to Europe to tour the locations of famous battles. He used that interest to answer a Common App prompt, and the essay worked beautifully.

Another way to demonstrate your individuality is by incorporating your own words, tone, attitude, and emotions. You might need to cut back on it at some point but that’s a whole lot better than starting off with no personality at all. Above all, don’t try to second guess what Admissions Directors want in an applicant and write toward that. Most likely, it will come off phony, way too politically correct, and could even work against you. So, be yourself. It got you this far, trust it will take you to the college of your choice.

For more personal help with the Common Application essay, supplemental or any other college application essays, please contact Craig Heller at, or 818-340-1276.

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