Twelve Topics Fast
Come up with a list of 4 ways to describe yourself (athlete, musician, reader, son/daughter). Next, think of 3 stories you could tell about yourself in each of these roles. Jot down a few notes about each story—sensory details about what you saw and heard, how you felt, what happened, what you learned. The result: twelve potential essay topics.
Who am I?
Make a quick list of characteristics that you think describe you (e.g., loyal, extroverted, diplomatic, inquisitive). Focus on positive characteristics that you believe make you a special, appealing person whom others will want to get to know better. Select one characteristic from your list and free write about a time you demonstrated that characteristic. Repeat as desired. You might to try to generate additional evidence about the first characteristic or select another characteristic on your list about which to free write.
Once you have generated notes and jottings, you will move to a phase of selecting from that beautiful mess the best of the best. The stories and themes you choose to expand upon need not be complex, glamorous, or extraordinary. But they should be meaningful, compelling, and uniquely yours. Consider how the information you present will help the admissions committee get to know you. What does it say about who you are?
A few general tips to help you avoid common pitfalls:
- Follow the instructions. Choose anecdotes that actually help you answer the question posed in the application.
- Tell a personal, memorable story, but be aware that this is not a private journal entry. Do not include information you would be embarrassed to show your grandmother. Do not include information that will make the admissions committee pity or fear you.
- Start drafting early. Give yourself plenty of time to reflect and revise as needed.