College Application Essays

Posted on: 2010 -11-29

American universities often require an applicant to provide a personal statement. The personal statement is the most time-consuming task when preparing college application materials. It is used by U.S. university admission committees to give them a more in-depth and comprehensive understanding of the applicant's quality, personality and one or two things in his/her life experience that have shaped the applicant up to the present. The content of a personal statement should focus on what the student has learned in his/her own life experience. Hence, it shouldn't be a mechanical list of the student's background. Whatever topics colleges ask you to write about in your personal statement, when writing it, be sure to focus on yourself and write how you are different from others; in addition to describing a meaningful experience, you should also express your insights and ideas. You can choose different methods to proceed, but the core is to select a unique main idea, and pick up one or two typical examples to write about. Your essay should be like a work of literature, have vivid descriptions, catching the university admission committee's eyes when they are reading your personal statement. In addition, U.S. universities also require applicants to provide a few small essays. The length of a personal statement is usually about 400-700 words. You should avoid a personal statement of more than 1000 words.

Leave your personal statement and small essays alone for a few days before editing the essays. You’ll have to edit your draft over and over, check for spelling and grammatical errors in your essays. Ask several people to read your draft, listen to their views and suggestions. However, it is worth remembering that all U.S. universities require personal statement and small essays to be written by yourself. You can ask people to provide suggestions on your college admission application essays and help you polish the sentences, but if the university admission committees finds that a student's college application essays were written by someone else, the student might be denied admission. Therefore, you should focus on the unique content of the article and having no grammatical errors in your essay, but should not ask people to write sentences or add gorgeous and rare vocabulary to your essay that cannot be written at your level of English.

College Essay Topics

Regardless of whether it is a personal statement or small essay, the titles of application essays can be various and even strange, but should cover no more than the following aspects:

(1) The effect of a person, a character in a film or a book, or a creative work on you

By describing the impact of the object you worship (people, art, music, science or other creative work that has had a significant impact on you), you allow the university admission committees learn something of your outlook on life and your personal values.

(2) Unique Environment of Growth

American universities pay close attention to a student's unique cultural or personal background. For example, if you came from a family living in extreme poverty, you may ask yourself what challenges your life has given to you, and what helped you to grow.

(3) Important Life Experience

Describe a major personal experience, achievement, risk, or ethical dilemma that you have faced and its influence on you to highlight your uniqueness and difference.

(IV) Why Have You Chosen this University?

This is a common question. If you use the same essay to answer why you choose this university for each school, the university admissions committee will think that you do not count their school as one of your favorite colleges. 

(5) Personal Talent

Essays on the subject of extracurricular activities can allow universities to understand a student's ability and disposition. If you like an activity, ask yourself: Why do I like this activity? What challenges or frustrations have I encountered during my practice? What gives me pleasure from this activity? What feelings and thoughts do I have about this activity?

(6) Community Service

In addition to extra-curricular activities, universities value volunteer experience and community service, because American universities want to see you are a caring person. Hence, thinking carefully about the volunteer activities you have done, describe your volunteer experience and insights.

However,there are also special topics:, such as :

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – A. Einstein. Describe your most interesting mistake.
-George washington University

You have just completed your 300-page autobiography. Please submit page 217.
-University of Pennsylvania

You are about to embark on a lengthy road trip in a two-passenger car with no radio. What person—real or fictional—would you choose to accompany you and why?
- Marquette University

Describe the future.
- New York University

There is a significant difference between a stupid mistake and a clever one. Give an example of a “clever” mistake you have made and explain how it benefited you or others.
- Northwestern University

If you could change any event in the course of history, what would you change and why?
-Trinity College