4 years ago
Admissions Advice

I have two different ideas for my college application essay and wanted to know which one stands out more ?

One idea is to represent the essay through the elements of theatre. There are come major elements of a theatre....character, plot, diction etc... So I can represent the story of my life by defining them through these terms. Another route that I can work with is through explaining the importance of words in life and how they highlight and redefine a person. Which idea stand out more ?

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2 answers

Accepted Answer
4 years ago

I think @matchakombucha gave a really thoughtful answer here and I agree with what they said. Based on what you wrote I feel as if I am missing information on whether or not these essay topics suit you. I think the concepts of them both can work well depending on the style you write them in and assuming they are relevant to your life.

My question for you is, why? Why these ideas? If I were to guess I would assume you are into theatre and enjoy reading. Or maybe you just like a good story in general. Is theatre important to you? Are words in general important to you? Or are there particular words or phrases that draw you into them? If you can't answer yes to one of these questions I'm not sure if these topics are for you.

If you run with the theatre idea I think it's necessary that theatre is important to you in some aspect. It doesn't need to be the main thing that interests you but it should play an aspect in your life and should have helped shape you in some way. Don't just talk about "the story of my life" using a theatre metaphor. AO's don't really want an autobiography. They want something unique and personable from you. You could write about a specific instance/moment/memory in your life and present it through a theater lens but I don't think talking about your entire life is a good idea.

If you decide to go with the importance of words in life I think you need to be able to connect to a specific moment when you realized the importance of words. How do words highlight who a person is? How do they redefine a person? Is it the words someone might use in everyday speech or is it the words that are used against them? I think it's possible you can turn this into a good essay assuming there's a moment you can talk about/it somehow relates to your interests.

Most importantly you need to remember what @matchakombucha mentioned. This is NOT your typical essay you'd write for school and should definitely NOT be treated as one. This is your best opportunity to let a school see who you really are and what you can bring to their campus if you are accepted. I think both of these essay ideas could work but you need to think about if these are the best ways to explain who you are as a person or if there is something else/some other way to get that across more clearly.

4 years ago[edited]

Personally I think you are asking the wrong question. The personal essay is one of the few opportunities you have to use your voice to tell the application reader something about your personality, character, or other dimensions like passions, dreams, hopes, and ideas that are not clearly expressed in the rest of your application. The things you want the school to know about you that makes you uniquely qualified to have a seat at the table.

You are not being graded on the essay like an AP Lang or AP Lit paper. You are not going to be judged by your use of difficult words or phraseology or other metrics of a critical essay review. Rather, the goal is the find a way to tell a story about yourself that best describes the essence of your being, your real genuine person. They want to know who you are in real life and what makes you tick.

Their goal is to create a well-rounded class of Freshmen that all complement one another. So after they read your file or after two people read your file, the take away needs to be, "did this person write something personal that wraps up all the other elements of their application with a neat bow on top", "something that I now know who they are so they can advocate a spot for you".

Your job is to find a narrative that lets the reader know who you really are. You are not a stat, you are not a GPA, you are not an EC, so you need to use the essay to explain YOU to them in a personalized way that only you can describe and articulate. Then once they know you, well let the chips fall where they are supposed to.

Either essay can work depending on how you wordsmith and craft it. But there might be a better essay that tells the story of YOU better.

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Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
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Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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