Put It in Context

It’s important to remember that the essay is one part of many on your application. Consider the other elements of your application, such as the activities page and transcript. What type of essay would further strengthen key points that pertain to the major you will be applying? What essential information is missing from these parts?

Consider this: You plan to apply as a Biology major. You’ve taken advantage of what was offered at your school, such as AP Biology and Human Anatomy. You participate in Science Olympiad, and last summer you interned at a local lab. Your transcript and activities are beginning to reveal a certain focus you’ve already developed, perhaps without giving it too much thought. Lately, you’ve been passionate about Environmental Issues.

You’re starting to focus and specialize. What might be a good topic in this instance? Perhaps you had a key moment when you were younger that led you on your course. Did you go on a nature walk and discover the beauty of the interconnectedness of biology? Maybe there was a key phrase you heard in one of your classes and it has played over and over again in your mind.?

Maybe you want to focus on an event that is more contemporary in your life. Perhaps you and your friends organized an independent research project. What was this process like? What was the hardest part? What did you learn about yourself? Your relationship to the subject? Why was this formative in your academic career?

Conversely, perhaps you are applying Undecided, or as I like to say Open Minded. You’ve taken the classes required at your school, and your activities are wide-spread. You are in German Club, Band, Model UN, and Scholar Bowl. Fantastic. In this case, you’ll especially want to think about your strengths and what sets you apart from other individuals. Riffing off your academic trajectory may not have the punch on your application since  you are still exploring. Instead, perhaps you focus on your love of exploration through a rigorous camping trip you went on with your friends as a type of rite of passage. Maybe you write about what you are doing when you are most content.

The best way to find the right topic is the spend time brainstorming. If you can, have a list of all you’ve accomplished in front of you. Consider the “brand” you’re creating when applying to a university. Pulling together and highlighting important elements in highly beneficial.

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