Knowing Yourself = Writing a Better College Application Essay

Most college application essay prompts ask students to reveal, in one way or another, who they are and what is important to them. Yet “knowing yourself” ( is not that easy, especially for a young adult who is still learning about the world and his or her place in it.So, for this blog, let’s put aside talking about writing university admission essays, and try to better understand that fascinating person that is “you.”

Answering these questions = Better college application essays

  1. Take an honest inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. Write them down and do three drafts of the list.
  2. In order of preference, what are five things you enjoy doing?
  3. In order of importance, what are five things that are important to you?
  4. Why are they so important?
  5. What kind of people do you choose as friends? What kind of people choose you?
  6. Are you a leader, follower, somewhere in between?
  7. Are you an extrovert, introvert, or somewhere in between?
  8. Are conservative, unconventional or somewhere in between?
  9. Are you always honest or do you equivocate?
  10. How would your best friend describe you? Your parents? Your teachers?
  11. Imagine that success, money or the approval of others had no bearing on your decision. What is your ideal career?
  12. What makes you happy? Sad? Angry? Motivated?
  13. Write a paragraph that describes you. Cut it to three sentences. Then cut it to one.
  14. On a scale of one to ten, how kind are you to others?
  15. What is a misconception about you? Why do people hold it?

Okay, pencils down…

This is by no means a definitive list of questions you can ask yourself on the way to self knowledge. (read more at But it’s a place to start, as long as you address each question honestly. It’s also important to note that the “self” you are knowing is constantly changing. Core values will probably remain in place but other areas will continue to evolve over time.

The  Round

Other than the satisfaction of self knowledge, finding out more about yourself will help you write a better college application essay and, as an added bonus, even make it easier to write.

As Irish writer Oscar Wilde said  (he wasn’t referring to the college application essay but his message still resonates),

 “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”

The Abridged Version


To write about yourself, you need to know yourself.

For more personal help with the college application essay, contact Craig Heller directly at [email protected] or 818-340-1276.


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