First Impressions



Think of your application as your first impression to a university. If you were meeting them for the first time, what would be the key insights that you would want them to come away knowing?

You have a few ways to do this, to a degree it depends on what you know about your potential course of study in college.

If you do know a major or general discipline you are interested in, you can use this as a foundation for your entire application.

Example: Say you are interested in Journalism. You joined your school newspaper, won awards at a state competition, and work at your local newspaper over the summer. You also have a sampling of community service, athletics, and other clubs, like debate and theatre. You were able to take a mass media class your senior year as an introduction to the field.

In this case, you are starting to show the university that you take this very seriously. You’ve taken advantage of the opportunities available to you thus far. You may wish that your essay emphasized this passion further. Do you have a formative moment? Did it take you time to adjust to the assertive nature of the journalist? Is there a particular topic you are passionate about? Did you introduce a topic to your school newspaper that required work, but enlightened your community?

Consider all these aspects together. You start to come across as someone who not only knows what he or she wants, but also how to get it.

If you do not necessarily know your major, you certainly do know yourself. You’ve had seventeen years or so to become acquainted. Now it’s time to make a list: what makes you you? What is most important?

Do you have personality traits you wish to highlight? Hobbies? Passions? When are you the most content? What experience was the most formative for you?

The prompts can help you to brainstorm. Take time to be flexible and have fun with the prompts. In seeing the material you have to work with, you can make an informed decision.

Consider this also in line with your activities and classes. Is community service a prominent thread? Do you do a lot of work around environmental conservation? Are you so invested in dance that it has become your first language?

I would recommend having all these details in front of you. When working with students, I know their transcripts, and I generally have them fill out their activities shirt first. Why? It helps you to see what you are already working with. Great, you are in Spanish club and Model UN, but if you have a different topic that greatly reflect you, your passions, you goals, that could be an asset to your application. They already have that information.

Conversely, if you have an experience in one of those clubs that has greatly shaped your mindset that someone would not gather from the 100 word description provided, it could be worth a second look.

The essay can be tricky because everyone’s ideal topic is different. But that’s also what makes it the most exciting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s