Hi! I'm working on starting my college application essays and I'm trying to develop a strong and coherent narrative throughout my application, but I'm having a hard time doing so with my essays. Throughout my extracurriculars, the common thread is that I create and deliver resources to address deficits and bridge divides throughout different communities and fields.
For reference, I've started an organization that brings business career exploration resources to high school students, created an app that allows people with eating disorders to chat with one another to create an eating disorder support community, organized a virtual campaign to bring books to underprivileged children, and serve on the leadership board for several non profits that close several "gaps".
My dream school is UPenn Wharton, and I would like to major in Accounting and Finance.
However, with all of these individual components, I feel like it's hard for me to do something that reflects the other parts of my personality on my common app. An idea I had for a personal statement is talking about how I failed the level 1 swimming class 4 times because of my fear to put my head underwater, but after watching countless youtube videos, practice, and getting over my inner naysayer, I finally passed and even completed several swimming levels rapidly. I was initially timid, but after defeating my inner voice that held me back, few things held me back from chasing my goals. Though this is a very rough outline of a potential idea, I feel like it's hard for me to work my theme in the essay.
However, would it work if I interweave parts of my theme in the supplemental essays, like the "Why us" type essay that Penn requires of all applicants? Also, what are other ways I can show the "why" for my activities?
Sorry in advance for the wordy question!
I recommend interweaving your application theme into your supplemental essays. The CommonApp essays are one part of your application that should be personal. It would totally work to write a CommonApp essay about your experience with swim class, and then save your application theme for the Penn supplemental essays. Another thing you can do is state your "why" in each extracurricular description or a resume if possible. Hope this helps!
I suggest that you do weave in parts of your desired theme into each of the supplemental essays. I think you can build a strong narrative about how, despite your challenges and fears, you are able to overcome them, and be courageous enough to seek to establish positive change in different communities.
If there is a space or somewhere to put it in your application, add a reflection for at least some of your service activities. In each reflection, you could include why you served, why you feel it was important to serve in that way, and what things you did. It could help show that you genuinely care about helping the communities you assist, and that you don't do it just to make your college app look better.
I would recommend connecting all of them through the eyes of someone else. Don't look at your achievements as your own. Instead, take a step back. Imagine you are an author, writing about a character who has done all these things. Write all the essays following one string of a plot for this character. Then, when you go to convert this draft into an essay, keep that common string there, but write yourself in instead of the character. This will help you to maintain common ideas, while also helping you showcase your achievements and triumphs over the years.
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