16 days ago
Admissions Advice

Is it better to keep my theme consistent in my Common App essay or talk about a completely new aspect of myself?


I'm a bit conflicted between using my main personal (Common App) essay to reinforce my spike or trying to show new information/a new side of myself. I've heard that you should make sure you never repeat information, so I don't know whether that applies in this situation.

For context: My spike is philosophy (founded a philosophy organization, featured in a magazine for creating the organization, got a graduate-level position as a philosophy teacher, & have a rec letter from a Harvard philosophy professor). So my choices are between an essay taking you through my thought processes and my overall journey with philosophy through a parallel with hand lettering (one of my other activities). It includes some of the above activities/accomplishments but mentions why/how I did those things instead of just listing them, but I'm still a little concerned about that repetition.

The other option is to talk about my background or something that isn't emphasized as much in the rest of my application, like traveling all the time growing up or another quirky activity I have like parkour or competitive typing or just something mundane that shows my personality instead of something that I'm passionate about.

What do you think would be more beneficial for my application? Reinforcing my spike/theme to try to make it more memorable or showing a different side of myself to make myself more multidimensional?

Feel free to ask any questions if you need more information. Thank you so much!


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2 answers

Accepted Answer
16 days ago

Hi, thank you for asking this question! I'm glad you know all about the concept of conveying a theme in your application, and even better you have a spike that you want to share with admissions committees! It seems like the idea for your Common App personal statement essay about your journey in philosophy and how that parallels hand lettering is well thought out; if you want to write about it here go for it! Just some words of wisdom:

1) You will have another supplemental essay for many schools that asks "Why Major?". So I would avoid including too much Why Major type information in your Common App essay. This may be unavoidable with your current Philosophy idea.

2) The "why Major?" essay prompt has a much more limited word count than the Common App essay prompt. So, if you feel you can only express your passion for philosophy with a 650-word count, then the Common App Philosophy essay may be the way to go.

3) In all parts of your application you want to express your theme. Including: essays, letter of recs, extracurriculars, classes (if possible).

4) If you discuss an alternative topic to Philosophy in your Common App essay, be sure to still emphasize the key traits that make a good Philosopher. For example this could be "critically thinking, "creative", "willingness to explore new ideas", etc. Doing so, will provide the congruity throughout the rest of your application elements.

Hope this helps!

16 days ago

Your spike sounds amazing! You've shared your achievements, so I think the AOs will be sufficiently impressed already. In my opinion you should write your essay about your personality.


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