You’re sitting down to face your application, and you are glad to see that you can choose which essay questions to answer. You’re not stuck answering a particular set of questions.
It’s good to know you have options. After all, you are determined to answer the questions that allow you to portray yourself at your best – to present your most impressive qualifications and talents, and to demonstrate to the adcom that you’re top applicant material.
But you also feel slightly insecure–what if you make a mistake and don’t choose the essay question you really should have answered? What factors should you consider when selecting the best essays to answer? [If you are applying to college through the Common Application, you can use these tips to help you pick which prompt to respond to.]
Here are our recommendations about choosing which essays to write about:
- Choose the questions that will complement other elements of your application
The essays allow you to round out and complement other information or topics that appear elsewhere in your application, such as your resume/CV, letters of recommendation, and transcript. For example, your resume presents only a snapshot of your work history, but cannot go into depth on any aspect of it. In an essay, you can relate a fuller story about a particular achievement or experience (professional or non-professional) that will help the adcom appreciate your skills, earned wisdom, or goals.
- Write within your comfort zone
You’re often told to stretch beyond your comfort zones, and it’s true–this is where growth comes from. But with these essays, there’s no reason to push yourself to write about something where you feel you’re on less solid ground. For example, if your career vision is still fuzzy, don’t pick a question that asks you to paint that picture. Choose questions where you feel confident that you have something of substance to say.
Bottom line? Write the essays that will allow you to express yourself authentically. Don’t try to be something or someone that you think the admissions board wants to see. Because you know what? They want to see the real you.
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