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How to Write About Yourself in a College Essay | Examples
Published on September 21, 2021 by Kirsten Courault . Revised on May 31, 2023.
An insightful college admissions essay requires deep self-reflection, authenticity, and a balance between confidence and vulnerability. Your essay shouldn’t just be a resume of your experiences; colleges are looking for a story that demonstrates your most important values and qualities.
To write about your achievements and qualities without sounding arrogant, use specific stories to illustrate them. You can also write about challenges you’ve faced or mistakes you’ve made to show vulnerability and personal growth.
Table of contents
Start with self-reflection, how to write about challenges and mistakes, how to write about your achievements and qualities, how to write about a cliché experience, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about college application essays.
Before you start writing, spend some time reflecting to identify your values and qualities. You should do a comprehensive brainstorming session, but here are a few questions to get you started:
- What are three words your friends or family would use to describe you, and why would they choose them?
- Whom do you admire most and why?
- What are the top five things you are thankful for?
- What has inspired your hobbies or future goals?
- What are you most proud of? Ashamed of?
As you self-reflect, consider how your values and goals reflect your prospective university’s program and culture, and brainstorm stories that demonstrate the fit between the two.
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Writing about difficult experiences can be an effective way to show authenticity and create an emotional connection to the reader, but choose carefully which details to share, and aim to demonstrate how the experience helped you learn and grow.
It’s not necessary to have a tragic story or a huge confession. But you should openly share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences to evoke an emotional response from the reader. Even a cliché or mundane topic can be made interesting with honest reflection. This honesty is a preface to self-reflection and insight in the essay’s conclusion.
With difficult topics, you shouldn’t focus too much on negative aspects. Instead, use your challenging circumstances as a brief introduction to how you responded positively.
Share what you have learned
It’s okay to include your failure or mistakes in your essay if you include a lesson learned. After telling a descriptive, honest story, you should explain what you learned and how you applied it to your life.
While it’s good to sell your strengths, you also don’t want to come across as arrogant. Instead of just stating your extracurricular activities, achievements, or personal qualities, aim to discreetly incorporate them into your story.
Mention your extracurricular activities or awards in passing, not outright, to avoid sounding like you’re bragging from a resume.
Use stories to prove your qualities
Even if you don’t have any impressive academic achievements or extracurriculars, you can still demonstrate your academic or personal character. But you should use personal examples to provide proof. In other words, show evidence of your character instead of just telling.
Many high school students write about common topics such as sports, volunteer work, or their family. Your essay topic doesn’t have to be groundbreaking, but do try to include unexpected personal details and your authentic voice to make your essay stand out .
To find an original angle, try these techniques:
- Focus on a specific moment, and describe the scene using your five senses.
- Mention objects that have special significance to you.
- Instead of following a common story arc, include a surprising twist or insight.
Your unique voice can shed new perspective on a common human experience while also revealing your personality. When read out loud, the essay should sound like you are talking.
If you want to know more about academic writing , effective communication , or parts of speech , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.
- Writing process
- Transition words
- Passive voice
- How to end an email
- Ms, mrs, miss
- How to start an email
- I hope this email finds you well
- Hope you are doing well
Parts of speech
- Personal pronouns
First, spend time reflecting on your core values and character . You can start with these questions:
However, you should do a comprehensive brainstorming session to fully understand your values. Also consider how your values and goals match your prospective university’s program and culture. Then, brainstorm stories that illustrate the fit between the two.
When writing about yourself , including difficult experiences or failures can be a great way to show vulnerability and authenticity, but be careful not to overshare, and focus on showing how you matured from the experience.
Through specific stories, you can weave your achievements and qualities into your essay so that it doesn’t seem like you’re bragging from a resume.
Include specific, personal details and use your authentic voice to shed a new perspective on a common human experience.
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- Describe Your Personality Essay
How to Masterfully Describe Your Personality in an Essay
By: Tasha Kolesnikova
What's your personality type? Knowing your personality traits and the ability to describe them in written form will help you in all aspects of your life - from your first day in school until your last job. For instance, one practical application of such essays is to impress hiring managers with your cover letter and job interviews. Being able to answer the "tell me about yourself" query properly not only enables you to answer interview questions and explain why you fit the job description perfectly but also helps you navigate through your work-life and relationships with your co-workers.
Theories on Personality
Using adjectives in your essay, sample essay on your personality, why is it not an a+ essay.
- What to Consider When Writing Your Analysis Essay
- What Questions to Answer When Writing About Your Personality
Your Portrait - Select the Key Characteristics
You don't necessarily need a personality test to know your personality. But how would you describe yourself? Talking about yourself may be hard. However, knowing yourself well is essential for profound communication skills and adaptability.
Every person has weaknesses in their personality as well. When writing your personality essay for your job application, for example, you can choose weaknesses that are unimportant to the position you're applying for, such as being shy or having limited experience. You can also include traits that you consider a weakness but can actually also be your strengths, like being self-critical or being competitive.
How does your personality develop over time? There are many explanations scattered around with different theories in various studies. One of them is the Theory of Temperaments.
Theory of Temperaments
This is the earliest known theory from Hippocrates. He divided personality based on four temperaments connected to bodily fluids he referred to as "humor."
Which descriptions fit you the best? Before you write your essay, remember that you should establish a bond between you and your reader. Using adjectives will help you in creating that connection. Adjectives are critical in expressing ourselves and how we relate with others. They help us explain and give specific information in our answers that will make others get to know us better.
Think of the words you associate with yourself the most or find synonyms you can use in your essay. You can take advantage of thesaurus sites online like WordHippo and Synonymy to properly convey your personality type. For example, you can talk about your conscientiousness or substitute it with simpler words like "dedicated" or "ethical" so your readers will easily understand what you mean.
Your peers may ask you to make an essay to prepare you for a situation when you will have to reply to the hiring managers' requests. An example of this essay is as follows:
Each individual has a personality that is unique to them, making them irreplaceable. This makes humans interesting because everyone has different experiences and reasons why they behave and feel the way they do. The three traits that describe me the most are as follows: honest, reliable, and ambitious.
I live by a strict code of honesty. Not only was I raised by my parents to always tell the truth but also because it became an integral part of my life that I can't imagine myself trying to lie. Being honest helped me keep my relationships with my family and friends strong. This is because, at any time that we have misunderstandings, we talk about it openly.
Me being honest contributes to my reliability. When I give someone my word, I always intend to keep it. I apply this philosophy at all times: from small routine tasks to critical projects on which many things depend.
I am an ambitious person, as I want to achieve all the goals that I set in life. New accomplishments make me extremely happy and help me to dream big!
The sample essay you have just read could be assessed with a B- grade. But how to make it an A+?
To be fair, the essay's introduction is rather good. It talks on the topic from a general perspective, narrowing it down to the essay's focus – the author's personality. However, to make this introductory paragraph a brilliant one, think of a more gradual transition, for instance:
"There are no two personalities that are the same, and that's the beauty of it! I always like seeing myself as a part of a shining galaxy, spreading my unique light among other fellow stars. If I think about what character traits make up my bright shine, the three major pillars that come to mind are honesty, reliability, and a great deal of ambition."
This introduction uses metaphors and will definitely be remembered by the reader!
The sample essay's main body also has parts that require improvement. While the paragraph about reliability has a connection with the previous one, the part where the author talks about ambition seems disconnected. Adding just one sentence could fix this issue:
"Speaking of grand projects, I have plenty – after all, I'm an ambitious person."
Also, it is highly advisable to elaborate on the topic. In this essay, for example, the author could share some plans or dreams with the reader, making the story more personal and relatable.
Finally, the sample essay is lacking a conclusion. Summarize what you've already said and make a memorable statement to end your essay, for example:
"As you can see, I am quite a mix. As challenging as being honest, reliable, and ambitious at the same time may be, I try to make the best of it!"
Tips on Creating a Brilliant Essay About Yourself
Writing an essay about your personality can be tough, especially if you're an introvert, as it's the same as showing your inner self to other people. In fact, you will need to brainstorm and explain why you have that personality trait - how you acquired it and why you're keeping it with you until now.
What to Consider When Writing Your Analysis Essay:
- Organization. Make a draft about what you want to talk about in your essay.
- Structure. Don't forget to write a great introduction, with the body supporting your points, and end it with a proper conclusion.
- Honesty. Talk about your real personality traits while highlighting the positive ones. Don't write traits you don't have.
What Questions to Answer When Writing About Your Personality:
1. What are the personality traits I have that I am most proud of?
Focus on traits that help make you an asset to anyone you work with. Play up your extraversion and downplay any neuroticism.
2. Why do I have these traits, and do I plan to keep them?
Expound on how you acquired these traits - were they because you were raised with these manners, or is it because of an experience you had where you realized these behaviors help? Make your readers relate to your encounters.
3. How will these traits help me in my daily life and at my workplace?
Elaborate on why you're proud of these traits and how they make your relationships flourish. Give emphasis to behaviors that assist you in having a better relationship with people. After all, teamwork is all about people's personalities working well together.
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