6 days ago
Admissions Advice

Can I use someone else's name in my college essay?

I am writing a college essay about a wonderful elderly woman I met and I'm not sure if I can use her name in my college essay? I'm not too worried about using her first name, Betty, but her last name is important because it is a mixture of very different cultures and it plays into an important theme in my essay. Can I use her last name, or is it wrong? I know my college essay will not be disclosed outside of the admissions office, but I don't want to share too much of her information or hurt the admissions' perspective on me as a writer and applicant. This is for a Common Application essay, not for a specific school. Thank you!

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1 answer

5 days ago

Good question...I am honestly not sure about using someone's name. I think that it's fine as long as the women is okay with it (hopefully you have the ability to ask her).

However, I do have a warning; be REALLY careful about writing an essay about another person. As wonderful as this woman is, the college wants to see how wonderful/interesting YOU are. This essay is how they meet you. A huge essay mistake is sharing more about someone else than yourself. However, if it's an integral part of your personal story, make sure you circle back to sharing about yourself. I am 100% positive that if you write an essay mostly focused on someone else, that will be a bright red flag to the admissions officers. I have personally heard admissions officers share how frustrating it is to get essays about people who aren't even applying...common thing they say is: "Let your essay convince us to accept YOU--not your dad, grandmother, or friend."

That being said, briefly mentioning other people in your essay can add interest and dimention, showing that you are a personal person and you have the curiousity to benefit or learn from others.

Hope this helps, even tho I know it doesn't exactly answer your specific question. Please lmk if you have any questions!

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