15 Tips to Help You Write a Stellar Essay
Essay-writing can be easier than you might think if you have a grasp of the basics and a willingness to engage with the subject matter. Here are 15 top tips for writing a stellar essay.
This is one of the most important tips you’ll ever receive. Research thoroughly, even if it means you have too many notes. It’s better to have to leave stuff out than not have enough to write about.
Make an Outline
Without a properly structured outline (with an intro, a four- to five-point body and a conclusion), your essay may be hard to write and to follow.
While you might just be writing your essay for a teacher or professor that is paid to read it, it still pays to grab their attention. A “hook” like a quote or surprising statistic in your intro can make your reader want to read on.
Lay Out Your Thesis
The intro isn’t all about flair and grabbing attention. It’s also about laying out your thesis. Make your main argument clear in the first few sentences, setting up a question to answer or statement to prove.
Avoid Passive Voice
If you want your writing to be persuasive, passive voice should be avoided. (That sentence was full of it, by the way. For example, “You should avoid passive voice” is a more convincing way to say “passive voice should be avoided.”)
Avoid First-Person Voice
If you’re writing an academic essay, you should almost certainly avoid first-person voice. In other words, avoid saying “I” or “my.” Also restrict your use of the second-person voice (e.g., don’t use “you” unless it’s necessary).
Start With Your Strongest Point
In general, it’s a good idea to start with your strongest argument in your first body paragraph. This sets the scene nicely. However, this might not be appropriate if you are structuring your essay points chronologically.
Relate All Points Back to Your Thesis
Make it clear to your reader how each point you make relates back to your thesis (i.e., the question or statement in your introduction, and probably your title too). This helps them to follow your argument.
Contextualize Without Losing Focus
Add contextualizing information for a richer presentation of your topic. For example, it’s fine (or even desirable) to discuss the historical background for certain events. Just don’t get bogged down by irrelevant details.
Use Transition Phrases
Transition phrases, such as “furthermore,” “by contrast” and “on the other hand,” can also help your reader to follow your argument. But don’t overuse them at the cost of clarity. Read your essay aloud to gauge how it flows.
Conclude With a Return to Your Thesis
A conclusion can do many things, but it’s useful to think of it as an answer to the question or statement in your intro. It’s sensible to summarize your key points, but always relate back to your thesis.
Make Your Conclusion Seem Obvious
Restating your thesis in your conclusion (after having made all of your points and arguments in the body) can be persuasive. Aim to make your conclusion feel irrefutable (at least if it’s a persuasive essay).
If your spelling is sloppy, it’s natural for your reader to assume your approach to writing the essay was too. This could harm the strength of an otherwise persuasive essay.
Grammar is also important, for the same reason. It’s usually easy to pick up on dodgy grammar if you read your essay aloud. If you’re not a native English speaker, however, you might want to ask someone who is to check your essay.
To avoid harming your persuasiveness and authority, it’s fundamentally important to use the right words. Overly obscure language can detract from the clarity of your argument, but if you feel you have to use it, then you better know what it means.
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9 Tips for Writing an Essay About Yourself
You know yourself better than anyone else, but writing about yourself can still be tough! When applying for scholarships or to college, essay prompts can feel so general (and yet so specific!) that they leave us stumped. So we’ll show you 8 tips to write an essay about yourself, so that you can land more scholarships. (Psst – Going Merry makes applying easy .)
1. Create a List of Questions
2. brainstorm and outline, 3. be vulnerable, 4. use personal examples, 5. write in the first person, 6. don’t be afraid to show off…but stay on topic, 7. show personality , 8. know your audience, 9. proofread and edit.
Let’s start with some examples of personal essay prompts:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Describe a challenge or event that made you who you are today.
- What are your short and long-term goals, and how do you plan to achieve them?
- Write about a time you failed at something. How did it affect you?
These are just a few of many scholarship essay prompts that require you to look internally, to answer a question, solve a problem, or explain a scenario in your life.
We get it. You might not be a big fan of bragging about yourself, or you might want to keep your personal stories to yourself. But by opening up and sharing your story, you can show scholarship providers, colleges and universities who you are, and why you’re deserving of their scholarship.
(Don’t just take our word for it – check out our scholarship winners page full of students like you who were brave enough to share their stories with us).
To get started, check out these 9 tips on how to write an essay about yourself:
After reading through the scholarship essay prompt, breathe, and make a list of smaller questions you can answer, which relate to the big essay prompt question.
Let’s say the main essay prompt question asks you, “What were challenges or barriers you had to work to overcome?” Then the smaller questions might be something like:
- What is your background? Family, finances, school.
- What was challenging about that background?
- What’s your greatest accomplishment? How did you get there? How have previous challenges influenced your goals?
Think of these questions as mini-prompts. They explain your story and help you answer the main essay prompt with more details than if you just answered it without a plan in place.
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Get expert 1:1 advice on finding free funding sources to pay for college with Going Merry’s FREE Concierge Program. Our experts will work with you one-on-one to help your family unlock more money for your (or your child’s) education. A scholarship expert will pick out a customized short list of scholarships based on grades, interests, and other characteristics – all through Going Merry’s FREE Concierge program. We’ll help you find small local scholarships with less competition and better chances of winning. Click “learn more” and then fill out the form to check your eligibility
After considering smaller questions, it’s time to brainstorm your answers. Take out a pen and paper – or open up a document on a computer – and take your time in answering each mini-prompt. Organize your responses in order:
- Intro to main essay prompt.
- Answer about 3 mini-prompt questions.
- Conclude by rewriting the answer to the main essay prompt with a summary of your mini-prompt answers.
This organization will help you stay on topic and answer the prompt directly. (Or check out these 6 scholarship essay examples for alternative essay structures.)
Don’t be afraid to let your strengths, challenges, and personal stories shine through in your essay! Scholarship and admissions committees love to see that you’re self-aware how you can improve as a person, or how you’ve grown because of your experiences. Honest writing can help tell the best stories (in this case, YOUR story).
Since this essay is all about you , you should make your answer as specific as possible! Avoid using generalizations (e.g., “I’m really good at music). Instead, go for more personalized statements (e.g., “My fourth-grade teacher Ms. Matay really inspired me to pursue my interest in the clarinet”). Your personal examples are what will help your scholarship essay stand out among the thousands of applicants..
You’re telling your story, so write from your perspective! You can narrate your story. You can provide an overview of what you learned from your experiences. However you choose to answer the prompt, we recommend writing in an active tone, and using “I” and “me” throughout your essay.
Most students worry about bragging in their essay, but we say go for it! This is your time to shine, so highlight your accomplishments and strengths. Review your essay to make sure that you’re keeping the tone informative and that you’re still on topic. (Brag while answering the essay prompt; don’t just mention random, unrelated but impressive facts about yourself!)You can use this brag sheet where you can brainstorm your accomplishments. While the worksheet is geared toward requesting letters of recommendation , you can still use it to write out your hobbies, interests, college list , and strengths to help you answer your scholarship essay prompt.
Just because it’s an essay doesn’t mean it has to be dry and boring. This essay is all about you, so let your personality shine through. If you’re the class clown, you can use a bit of humor. If you wear your heart on your sleeve, don’t be afraid to show emotion. Trying your best to express who you are as a person will have a huge effect on the admissions or scholarship committee!
If you’re applying for a scholarship, research the scholarship provider. If you’re applying to college, research the school. Understanding what makes the provider/college unique and what their motivations are, will allow you to incorporate that information in your essay. For example, many scholarships are funded by private companies that sell products. You might want to reference those products in your essay. A good example of this is Emily Trader’s essay for the Life Happens organization , where she uses her personal narrative to explain the importance of insurance planning, since that is the mission of the organization (which is funded by insurance companies).
The last step in answering your essay prompt is to double-check your work! One typo can be distracting and cause scholarship providers to scratch their head while reading the essay. ( Psst, humble brag: Going Merry’s application platform includes spellcheck because we’ve got your back .) In addition to proofreading for typos and grammatical errors, also consider whether the sentence or paragraph structure makes sense. Are you breaking paragraphs in the right place? Are you using topic sentences well to signpost your main ideas? Does the essay flow? Consider these “bigger” structural questions too. You might also want to ask a friend, family member, teacher, or guidance counselor to review your essay. They might catch something you didn’t see the first time around, and that can really help your essay! In fact, that is scholarship winner Daniel Gill ’s #1 tip. (Another tip is to apply for scholarships using Going Merry !)
Also, check out this helpful list of the 10 most common scholarship essay topics while you’re brainstorming!
Now that you know how to write an essay about yourself, it’s time to start applying for scholarships! Remember: You’ve got this.
Sign up for your free Going Merry profile . From there, you can easily upload and submit your essay for thousands of scholarships. We make it easy so you’ll only need to enter your profile information once! And then, you can apply away. In fact, we even have some bundled scholarships so that you only enter your essay once, to apply for multiple scholarships at the same time.
Or if you’re not ready to register, simply sign up to receive an email with 20 new scholarship opportunities each week. Just enter your email address below:
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How to Write About Yourself
Last Updated: July 31, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Lucy Yeh . Lucy Yeh is a Human Resources Director, Recruiter, and Certified Life Coach (CLC) with over 20 years of experience. With a training background with Coaching for Life and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at InsightLA, Lucy has worked with professionals of all levels to improve the quality of their careers, personal/professional relationships, self marketing, and life balance. There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 5,604,508 times.
Whether you're writing an essay about yourself for a scholarship, a self-introduction, or a personal bio for a job application, coming up with the right words to capture what makes you unique can feel challenging. Fortunately, there are tips and tricks that can make writing about yourself a breeze. Want some help getting across just how impressive, interesting, and skilled you really are? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about putting yourself into words effectively, complete with examples.
Writing of the Autobiographical Nature
- Who are you?
- What is your background?
- What are your interests?
- What are your talents?
- What are your achievements?
- What challenges have you faced?
- What is your most interesting or unique quality? What word(s) describes you the best? Choose that topic.
- Bad: I like sports.
- Ok: I'm a fan of basketball, football, tennis, and soccer.
- Good: My favorite sport is football, both to watch and to play.
- Better: When I was growing up, I would watch Big Ten football with my dad and brothers every Saturday, before we'd go outside and toss the football around. I've loved it ever since.
- Braggy: I'm the best and most dynamic worker at my company right now, so you should want to hire me for my talents.
- Humble: I was lucky enough to be awarded three employee of the month awards at my current job. Turns out it was a company record.
Writing Personal Essays for School
- Common themes or prompts for autobiographical essays include overcoming obstacles, great successes or spectacular failures, and what you learned about yourself.
- Depending on the assignment, you may need to connect a personal anecdote to a reading or an idea from class. Start brainstorming topics that are connected to that idea, to give yourself a variety of options to choose from.
- Common autobiographical essay cliches include sports stories, mission trips, and dead grandmothers. While these can all make for excellent essays if done well, it is difficult to stand out when telling the story of how your lacrosse team lost a big game, then practiced hard, then won. It has been written before.
- If you want to tell the story of your nasty break-up, start with the break-up, do not start with the star-crossed way you met. You have got to get immediately to the tension in the story.
- When you have an idea of your topic, start writing a "memory list" of specific things that you remember about the event. What was the weather like? What did it smell like? What did your mother say to you?
- Your opening paragraph will set the tone for the rest of the essay. Rather than telling the dull biographical details (your name, your place of birth, your favorite food), find a way to express the essence of the story you are going to tell and the themes you are going to explore in your essay.
Writing a Cover Letter for an Application
- Outline your qualifications and highlight your talents in a cover letter.
- Write about who you are.
- In a cover letter, describe how your education and experience qualifies you for this position.
- Explain how this opportunity will benefit your career goals.
- When in doubt, keep it brief and serious. If you are unsure whether or not telling an amusing anecdote about your friend's bachelor party is appropriate in a cover letter, it is probably best to leave it out.
- "I'm writing to apply for the entry-level position with Company Inc. advertised on your website. I think my experience and training makes me an ideal candidate for this position."
- Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary to include your name in the body of the letter: "My name is John Smith and I am applying...." Your name will be included in the signature , as well as the header of a cover letter, so there is no need to put it in the text itself.
- Who you are and where you come from.
- Where you want to go.
- How this opportunity would potentially help you get there.
- Be as specific as possible. It is alright to note that you are "A passionate leader in all walks of life" but it would be much better to write about an example of a time you lead in a surprising way.
- Stay focused on skills and talents that connect specifically to the thing you are applying for. Extracurricular involvement, leadership roles, and other types of outstanding achievement may be important to you personally, but it may be totally extraneous. If you include something, ensure to connect it specifically to the goal of the cover letter.
- Be as specific as possible. If you are writing a university cover letter, it is obvious that you have to have a degree to get a job as a doctor, but how did you come to choose this field? Why did you choose this school? What, specifically, do you want to take away from the experience?
- Be careful about using a cover letter to critique a business. It is not the time to describe the suffering of a particular brand over the previous fiscal quarter, then promising that you will be able to turn it around with your ideas. That might not go over well if you are hired, and then you are unable to live up to the promise.
- Even if it is impressive, a high GPA or class ranking does not belong in a cover letter. Highlight it on your resume, but do not include it in two different places of the application.
- Mailing address
- Telephone and/or fax number
Expert Trick : Save time and effort by creating one generic format that you can use for many different job applications by tweaking the specific content for each one. Start with a general introductory paragraph , then a section or two fleshing out your resume and expertise as it relates to the job, and finish it off with a closing paragraph and a note of thanks.
Writing a Short Biography Note
- Pretend you are writing about someone else. Write your name and start describing that person like a character or a friend: "John Smith is the Executive Vice President of Company Inc..."
- If you are a jack of all trades, say so. Do not be afraid to list "actor, musician, mother, motivational speaker, and professional rock climber" if they all apply equally.
- It is common to list degrees that you have received. Pay particular attention to anything that ties into the work you are writing about. If you have special training, include it here.
- "John Smith is the Executive Vice President of Company Inc., in charge of marketing and overseas acquisitions. He received an MBA with distinction from Harvard and lives in Montauk with his cat Cheeto."
- Do not overshare. It can seem funny to immediately start with "John Smith loves rafting and hates eating Cheetos. He's a total boss" and such bio notes can be appropriate for some venues, however be careful to avoid awkward oversharing. Telling everyone about your killer hangover might be best left for after work talk.
- Stephen King, who is one of the most successful and popular authors in recent history, has a bio note that just lists the name of his family members, his hometown, and his pets. Consider leaving out the self-congratulation entirely.
- Remember that you’re supposed to talk about yourself, it’s the main topic. Don’t talk about your friends or family, even though you may feel tempted to. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
- If you are having a difficult time writing about yourself, search online for examples of personal writing, in order to get some ideas and inspiration. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
- Don't think about how others feel about you. Everyone thinks from a different perspective. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
You Might Also Like
- ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/resumes-cover-letters/how-to-write-about-yourself
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/brainstorming/
- ↑ https://ohiostate.pressbooks.pub/choosingsources/chapter/narrowing-a-topic/
- ↑ https://www.yourdictionary.com/articles/essay-about-self-writing
- ↑ https://writingcommons.org/article/using-first-person-in-an-academic-essay-when-is-it-okay/
- ↑ https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/6-unconventional-ways-start-cover-letter/
- ↑ https://english.washington.edu/writing-cover-letter
- ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/career-goal-statement-examples
- ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/resumes-cover-letters/resume-vs-cover-letter
- ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/resumes-cover-letters/whats-the-ideal-cover-letter-length
- ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/resumes-cover-letters/how-to-format-a-cover-letter-example
- ↑ https://writingcenter.uagc.edu/first-vs-third-person
- ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/how-to-write-bio/
About This Article
If you have to write an autobiographical description of yourself, write down a list of your talents, interests, and accomplishments. Use this list to help you choose one specific topic for your description, such as your academic achievements or your leadership qualities. Use specific, unique details to support your topic, such as being awarded an academic scholarship or the fact that you were president of the newspaper in high school. You can list bits of your personal life, but be careful not to overshare. If you want to write about yourself a cover letter or personal essay, keep reading the article! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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15 Tips for Writing a College Essay About Yourself
- What is the Purpose of the College Essay?
- How to Stand Out Without Showing Off
- 15 Tips for Writing an Essay About Yourself
- Where to Get Free Feedback on Your Essay
Most students who apply to top-tier colleges have exceptional grades, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities. How do admissions officers decide which applicants to choose among all these stellar students? One way is on the strength of their college essay .
This personal statement, along with other qualitative factors like teacher recommendations, helps the admissions committee see who you really are—the person behind the transcript. So, it’s obviously important to write a great one.
What Is the Purpose of the College Essay?
Your college essay helps you stand out in a pool of qualified candidates. If effective, it will also show the admissions committee more of your personality and allow them to get a sense of how you’ll fit in with and contribute to the student body and institution. Additionally, it will show the school that you can express yourself persuasively and clearly in writing, which is an important part of most careers, no matter where you end up.
Typically, students must submit a personal statement (usually the Common App essay ) along with school-specific supplements. Some students are surprised to learn that essays typically count for around 25% of your entire application at the top 250 schools. That’s an enormous chunk, especially considering that, unlike your transcript and extracurriculars, it isn’t an assessment of your entire high school career.
The purpose of the college essay is to paint a complete picture of yourself, showing admissions committees the person behind the grades and test scores. A strong college essay shows your unique experiences, personality, perspective, interests, and values—ultimately, what makes you unique. After all, people attend college, not their grades or test scores. The college essay also provides students with a considerable amount of agency in their application, empowering them to share their own stories.
How to Stand Out Without Showing Off
It’s important to strike a balance between exploring your achievements and demonstrating humility. Your aim should be to focus on the meaning behind the experience and how it changed your outlook, not the accomplishment itself.
Confidence without cockiness is the key here. Don’t simply catalog your achievements, there are other areas on your application to share them. Rather, mention your achievements when they’re critical to the story you’re telling. It’s helpful to think of achievements as compliments, not highlights, of your college essay.
Take this essay excerpt , for example:
My parents’ separation allowed me the space to explore my own strengths and interests as each of them became individually busier. As early as middle school, I was riding the light rail train by myself, reading maps to get myself home, and applying to special academic programs without urging from my parents. Even as I took more initiatives on my own, my parents both continued to see me as somewhat immature. All of that changed three years ago, when I applied and was accepted to the SNYI-L summer exchange program in Morocco. I would be studying Arabic and learning my way around the city of Marrakesh. Although I think my parents were a little surprised when I told them my news, the addition of a fully-funded scholarship convinced them to let me go.
Instead of saying “ I received this scholarship and participated in this prestigious program, ” the author tells a story, demonstrating their growth and initiative through specific actions (riding the train alone, applying academic programs on her own, etc.)—effectively showing rather than telling.
15 Tips for Writing an Essay About Yourself
1. start early .
Leave yourself plenty of time to write your college essay—it’s stressful enough to compose a compelling essay without putting yourself under a deadline. Starting early on your essay also leaves you time to edit and refine your work, have others read your work (for example, your parents or a teacher), and carefully proofread.
2. Choose a topic that’s meaningful to you
The foundation of a great essay is selecting a topic that has real meaning for you. If you’re passionate about the subject, the reader will feel it. Alternatively, choosing a topic you think the admissions committee is looking for, but isn’t all that important to you, won’t make for a compelling essay; it will be obvious that you’re not very invested in it.
3. Show your personality
One of the main points of your college essay is to convey your personality. Admissions officers will see your transcript and read about the awards you’ve won, but the essay will help them get to know you as a person. Make sure your personality is evident in each part—if you are a jokester, incorporate some humor. Your friends should be able to pick your essay from an anonymous pile, read it, and recognize it as yours. In that same vein, someone who doesn’t know you at all should feel like they understand your personality after reading your essay.
4. Write in your own voice
In order to bring authenticity to your essay, you’ll need to write in your own voice. Don’t be overly formal (but don’t be too casual, either). Remember: you want the reader to get to know the real you, not a version of you that comes across as overly stiff or stilted. You should feel free to use contractions, incorporate dialogue, and employ vocabulary that comes naturally to you.
5. Use specific examples
Real, concrete stories and examples will help your essay come to life. They’ll add color to your narrative and make it more compelling for the reader. The goal, after all, is to engage your audience—the admissions committee.
For example, instead of stating that you care about animals, you should tell us a story about how you took care of an injured stray cat.
Consider this side-by-side comparison:
Example 1: I care deeply about animals and even once rescued a stray cat. The cat had an injured leg, and I helped nurse it back to health.
Example 2: I lost many nights of sleep trying to nurse the stray cat back to health. Its leg infection was extremely painful, and it meowed in distress up until the wee hours of the morning. I didn’t mind it though; what mattered was that the cat regained its strength. So, I stayed awake to administer its medicine and soothe it with loving ear rubs.
The second example helps us visualize this situation and is more illustrative of the writer’s personality. Because she stayed awake to care for the cat, we can infer that she is a compassionate person who cares about animals. We don’t get the same depth with the first example.
6. Don’t be afraid to show off…
You should always put your best foot forward—the whole point of your essay is to market yourself to colleges. This isn’t the time to be shy about your accomplishments, skills, or qualities.
7. …While also maintaining humility
But don’t brag. Demonstrate humility when discussing your achievements. In the example above, for instance, the author discusses her accomplishments while noting that her parents thought of her as immature. This is a great way to show humility while still highlighting that she was able to prove her parents wrong.
8. Be vulnerable
Vulnerability goes hand in hand with humility and authenticity. Don’t shy away from exploring how your experience affected you and the feelings you experienced. This, too, will help your story come to life.
Here’s an excerpt from a Common App essay that demonstrates vulnerability and allows us to connect with the writer:
“You ruined my life!” After months of quiet anger, my brother finally confronted me. To my shame, I had been appallingly ignorant of his pain.
Despite being twins, Max and I are profoundly different. Having intellectual interests from a young age that, well, interested very few of my peers, I often felt out of step in comparison with my highly-social brother. Everything appeared to come effortlessly for Max and, while we share an extremely tight bond, his frequent time away with friends left me feeling more and more alone as we grew older.
In this essay, the writer isn’t afraid to share his insecurities and feelings with us. He states that he had been “ appallingly ignorant ” of his brother’s pain, that he “ often felt out of step ” compared to his brother, and that he had felt “ more and more alone ” over time. These are all emotions that you may not necessarily share with someone you just met, but it’s exactly this vulnerability that makes the essay more raw and relatable.
9. Don’t lie or hyperbolize
This essay is about the authentic you. Lying or hyperbolizing to make yourself sound better will not only make your essay—and entire application—less genuine, but it will also weaken it. More than likely, it will be obvious that you’re exaggerating. Plus, if colleges later find out that you haven’t been truthful in any part of your application, it’s grounds for revoking your acceptance or even expulsion if you’ve already matriculated.
10. Avoid cliches
How the COVID-19 pandemic changed your life. A sports victory as a metaphor for your journey. How a pet death altered your entire outlook. Admissions officers have seen more essays on these topics than they can possibly count. Unless you have a truly unique angle, then it’s in your best interest to avoid them. Learn which topics are cliche and how to fix them .
This is a critical step. Even a small error can break your essay, however amazing it is otherwise. Make sure you read it over carefully, and get another set of eyes (or two or three other sets of eyes), just in case.
12. Abstain from using AI
There are a handful of good reasons to avoid using artificial intelligence (AI) to write your college essay. Most importantly, it’s dishonest and likely to be not very good; AI-generated essays are generally formulaic, generic, and boring—everything you’re trying to avoid being. The purpose of the college essay is to share what makes you unique and highlight your personal experiences and perspectives, something that AI can’t capture.
13. Use parents as advisors, not editors
The voice of an adult is different from that of a high schooler and admissions committees are experts at spotting the writing of parents. Parents can play a valuable role in creating your college essay—advising, proofreading, and providing encouragement during those stressful moments. However, they should not write or edit your college essay with their words.
14. Have a hook
Admissions committees have a lot of essays to read and getting their attention is essential for standing out among a crowded field of applicants. A great hook captures your reader’s imagination and encourages them to keep reading your essay. Start strong, first impressions are everything!
15. Give them something to remember
The ending of your college essay is just as important as the beginning. Give your reader something to remember by composing an engaging and punchy paragraph or line—called a kicker in journalism—that ties everything you’ve written above together.
Where to Get Free Feedback on Your College Essay
Before you send off your application, make sure you get feedback from a trusted source on your essay. CollegeVine’s free peer essay review will give you the support you need to ensure you’ve effectively presented your personality and accomplishments. Our expert essay review pairs you with an advisor to help you refine your writing, submit your best work, and boost your chances of getting into your dream school. Find the right advisor for you and get started on honing a winning essay.
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How to Write About Yourself in a College Essay | Examples
Published on September 21, 2021 by Kirsten Courault . Revised on May 31, 2023.
An insightful college admissions essay requires deep self-reflection, authenticity, and a balance between confidence and vulnerability. Your essay shouldn’t just be a resume of your experiences; colleges are looking for a story that demonstrates your most important values and qualities.
To write about your achievements and qualities without sounding arrogant, use specific stories to illustrate them. You can also write about challenges you’ve faced or mistakes you’ve made to show vulnerability and personal growth.
Table of contents
Start with self-reflection, how to write about challenges and mistakes, how to write about your achievements and qualities, how to write about a cliché experience, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about college application essays.
Before you start writing, spend some time reflecting to identify your values and qualities. You should do a comprehensive brainstorming session, but here are a few questions to get you started:
- What are three words your friends or family would use to describe you, and why would they choose them?
- Whom do you admire most and why?
- What are the top five things you are thankful for?
- What has inspired your hobbies or future goals?
- What are you most proud of? Ashamed of?
As you self-reflect, consider how your values and goals reflect your prospective university’s program and culture, and brainstorm stories that demonstrate the fit between the two.
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Writing about difficult experiences can be an effective way to show authenticity and create an emotional connection to the reader, but choose carefully which details to share, and aim to demonstrate how the experience helped you learn and grow.
It’s not necessary to have a tragic story or a huge confession. But you should openly share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences to evoke an emotional response from the reader. Even a cliché or mundane topic can be made interesting with honest reflection. This honesty is a preface to self-reflection and insight in the essay’s conclusion.
With difficult topics, you shouldn’t focus too much on negative aspects. Instead, use your challenging circumstances as a brief introduction to how you responded positively.
Share what you have learned
It’s okay to include your failure or mistakes in your essay if you include a lesson learned. After telling a descriptive, honest story, you should explain what you learned and how you applied it to your life.
While it’s good to sell your strengths, you also don’t want to come across as arrogant. Instead of just stating your extracurricular activities, achievements, or personal qualities, aim to discreetly incorporate them into your story.
Mention your extracurricular activities or awards in passing, not outright, to avoid sounding like you’re bragging from a resume.
Use stories to prove your qualities
Even if you don’t have any impressive academic achievements or extracurriculars, you can still demonstrate your academic or personal character. But you should use personal examples to provide proof. In other words, show evidence of your character instead of just telling.
Many high school students write about common topics such as sports, volunteer work, or their family. Your essay topic doesn’t have to be groundbreaking, but do try to include unexpected personal details and your authentic voice to make your essay stand out .
To find an original angle, try these techniques:
- Focus on a specific moment, and describe the scene using your five senses.
- Mention objects that have special significance to you.
- Instead of following a common story arc, include a surprising twist or insight.
Your unique voice can shed new perspective on a common human experience while also revealing your personality. When read out loud, the essay should sound like you are talking.
If you want to know more about academic writing , effective communication , or parts of speech , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.
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First, spend time reflecting on your core values and character . You can start with these questions:
However, you should do a comprehensive brainstorming session to fully understand your values. Also consider how your values and goals match your prospective university’s program and culture. Then, brainstorm stories that illustrate the fit between the two.
When writing about yourself , including difficult experiences or failures can be a great way to show vulnerability and authenticity, but be careful not to overshare, and focus on showing how you matured from the experience.
Through specific stories, you can weave your achievements and qualities into your essay so that it doesn’t seem like you’re bragging from a resume.
Include specific, personal details and use your authentic voice to shed a new perspective on a common human experience.
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Essay on My Self for Students and Children
500+ Words Essay on My Self
Seven billion people are on this Earth, and everybody is different from the rest of others. There is nothing without purpose in this world. Everything has some purpose. Humans are the best creation, and each person is exclusive. Thus, writing about myself, I’m here to express myself that what I see, what I experience and what I plan for my life. I try myself to be modest, passionate, devoted, hardworking and honest.
My Family and My Childhood
I’m from a middle-class family of Bihar, I am Naresh Shukla. Nobody comes in this world, without the support of family and friends. Actually, whatever you will be, it is just because of your family. My father is a respectable businessman in our community.
My mother is a doctor. They both love their occupation. That’s I have learned from my parents the value of time, honesty, hard work and commitment to the purpose.
We are three brothers and sisters. Being the eldest I am the most liable from my brothers and sisters. I am wanted to guide and take care of my other siblings. We all are in the same school. Reading is my passion.
I am a keen reader of novels and history books as I have a strong interest in Indian History and classical architecture. I love to read books that refer to the rich history and civilization of ancient India. At my pre-childhood, I used to listen to stories from my grandmother, and this has a long-lasting effect on me.
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I am studying at the best school in my city. I am presently in class 10th. I feel happy to be a part of this great school with the good friends, helpful and loving teacher and sound school administration. I have extraordinary skills in some subjects whereas I am very weak in the few.
In compare to studies, I am good at sports. so I am the captain of my class football team. I am the best football player at my school. Besides this, I am a fast runner also and I love athletics. I am in expert swimming.
The advice of my parents had a keen effect on my habits. I believe to speak the truth and try my best not to lie. My parents always advised me that if I commit a mistake, I should admit it. I try my best to do so. I know how to remain happy in every condition. Because I believe that: “Happiness is not out there; it’s in you.”
I am a very adventurous person too and like to take the risk. I like to do a creative thing besides doing old stuff again and again. Learning new things is one thing which I always enjoy. I always update myself with the news.
Along with this, I fond of reading a few children magazines in which different motivational stories are there. They taught me a high moral lesson. I am a very confident person and know how to talk. I always try to speak to every person according to his requirement so I understand people.
As every man have weaknesses, so have also. I am a little bit lazy at some places which I do not like. While playing time, I pass my lot of time there which is not a good habi t, but I try my best to overcome my weaknesses.
My Ambitions in Life
Everybody has an ambition in life . Aim or ambition is the inner aspiration of man. No man can do anything in the world without aim. So, all of us should be very determined about our aim in life.
Without good career planning, right from the start, one can’t be on the right track. One has to set the goals in accordance with his or her broad career goals.
I have studied biology and I will seat for the competitive entrance exam for admission to reputed medical college. I shall try to be a good and honest student. Then I shall be a qualified doctor. I will do all that to be a good doctor and will be sincere to it.
These are all the things which express me. Though nobody can be described in a few sets of sentences. One needs to have yet command of oneself before going to write something about his life. Life is meant to be lived avidly and with visualization to do good for your fellow beings. Keeping this aim in mind, I have always desired to serve my people in whatever capacity I can.
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Personal Essay Examples About Yourself In 2023
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There are times where you want to prove yourself and write an essay about yourself. Well, we’ve got you covered! Check out the already written essays below and use them as a guide to writing your own!
Essay About Myself Helps You To Establish Your Personality And Connect With An Audience
Describing yourself could be a challenging task, but when it comes to an assignment, you can’t skip it. So, are currently dealing with an essay that requires you to describe yourself? Are you finding it challenging to do so? If so, we are here to help. We understand how normal it is to go blank when asked about describing oneself. And, if you’re a student, the pressure to do so could be immense. It is because you know the reader would be marking your write-up rather than reading it for fun. The pressure to write better and follow the right structure can be overwhelming. It can end up making you freeze or feel you’re not good enough. However, the reality is otherwise. Here are a few things you can do to avoid being in that situation:
- Brainstorm key information and personality traits or personal experiences that you would want to share.
- Outline your essay before you start writing the draft.
- Make sure your draft is divided into logical paragraphs that are well-connected.
- Make sure your introduction is engaging enough to hook the reader.
- Make sure you conclude your essay that wraps up everything you wrote in the body.
- Make sure you have a unique voice in your writing by using the relevant vocabulary and letting the reader feel your feelings.
Following these simple steps will ensure you create an essay that leaves an impression.
Besides, if you’re confused about what to include in your personal essay, here are a few suggestions:
- You can talk about your personality.
- You can talk about your student life or personal life.
- You can include specific experiences or incidents to back up your claims about your personality.
Short Essay Sample About Yourself
Still confused? Here is a short sample essay to help you grab the idea if you’ve been asked to describe yourself in an essay:
Describing myself is one of the toughest tasks to do, but it’s fascinating too, to put it to words. I believe our traits – be they positive or negative – make us the person we are to the world. When it comes to my personality, people can have different opinions because they see what they want to see in me, and that’s okay. So, I would describe myself from the paradigm I see myself from in different aspects.
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As a person, I believe life is an art, and I am the artist of my life. I try to keep it full of colors and as cheerful as possible no matter what life throws at me. I am an enthusiast and a person full of curiosity. Curious to know what life is all about and what it holds in the future.
I like to keep a smile on my face no matter what I am going through, and that smile keeps me going. Besides, I was brought up in a multicultural community. Therefore, I am an extrovert, and I like to meet people, I love to experience their lives, cultures, and traditions, which makes me happy and cheerful.
Moreover, I am reliable but very short-tempered. I lose my calm if not understood properly. I get very irritated internally, but that doesn’t show in my behavior. However, I would like to change this character trait a little because my friends and dear ones often do not notice that I have some troubles. Thus, they do not offer help when I need it.
Good or bad, This is me, trying to contemplate the world as it is, revealing its true colors. I believe life is a gift, and it should be treated like one, with love, care, and respect.
Long Essay Example on “Describe Yourself “
Below is one more example to help you understand the idea of personal essays better.
Related: What Is The Best Website To Buy Essays
“Tell something about yourself?” It could be one of the toughest questions when asked impulsively. However, people who like sharing their achievements and personal life with others may find it another opportunity to reveal their unique traits. But with me, the case is quite the opposite. Talking about myself has never been my thing. Yet, I would still try to describe myself in the best way I can. I would like to start with my background and then move to how I am as a student and then how I am inside and how the world sees me.
The first thing that I would like to write to introduce myself is that I am nothing but just a unique kind of ‘substance’ made up of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, trying to leave a positive mark in the world. In the effort to do so, I have been continuously changing qualitatively. Being an only child raised by a single mother, I have had quite a rough childhood. Giving up on my aspirations and wishes was a normal part of my life. Living with limited luxuries and growing up without a father and siblings has a massive role in my personality today. I know how it is like not to have someone to hear you out when you come back home after a terrible day at school. Hence, I always try to be an ear to my friends and make them feel better.
However, I never let my financial constraints and not-so-easy family life get in the way of my academic goals. On the contrary, I have always been keen to learn new things and achieve good grades. As a result, I successfully managed to land in my dream college, that too on scholarship. Getting into college on scholarship was one of my biggest dreams as well as a major goal. Besides, it gave me a chance to make my mother proud of me. Making her a proud mother has always been my dream, and I can’t be happier to achieve some aspect of that dream.
Lastly, I would like to tell you that I may seem like a bright student who is confident and arrogant. But, in actuality, it is the opposite. I am a person that has to deal with social anxiety every day, which means I have to struggle a lot to make new friends, attend social events, and give presentations. I never tend to initiate a conversation or say enough to keep the conversation going with many people I don’t know. This may give them the impression that I am an arrogant teen. But, from the inside, I am as humble as a dove. I can never say no to anyone, and I can never ignore someone who needs help. I am as fragile as glass. My confidence level can go to zero on one uncomfortable remark.
All in all, this is precisely who I am as a person. And, I believe my experiences and relationships with others have a great role in making me what I am today. After all, humans are social animals. So, no matter how introverted or timid I am, I still need real connections that help me experience life at its best.
- Applying For Scholarships
How to Write a College Essay About Yourself
David Sep 30, 2020
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The scholarship you’re applying to requires that you write an essay about yourself. Easy peasy, how hard could it be? After all, you’ve been living with yourself for the last 17+ years! You know yourself better than anybody. You open your computer to start typing but your mind goes blank. Everything that you know about yourself suddenly seems unworthy of a $5,000 scholarship.
What in the world can you write about that will spark enough interest in the scholarship committee? Before you start panicking, check out our step-by-step guide on how to write a college essay about yourself.
Step 1: Brainstorm
The first way to tackle any scholarship essay prompt is to start with some thinking. We highly suggest that you take time before starting to write to brainstorm the essay prompt. This will not only get your creativity flowing, but your essay will be more organized and cohesive.
To start brainstorming, sit down in a quiet space with a pen and paper. Think about your background, your family life, your family’s financial state, your academic history, your childhood, your education, sports you play, and anything else about yourself that makes you who you are. If you’re stuck, strike up a conversation with your parents or friends about yourself to get you rolling. Jot notes about yourself down on the paper.
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Now, it’s time to take the facts you’ve written about yourself and dig deeper. The goal of your scholarship essay is to tell a story about yourself that will convince the scholarship committee that you deserve to win. How can you turn facts about yourself into a compelling story? What information can you provide about yourself that will broadcast your character?
It helps to think about who your audience is. To do this, get to know the scholarship organization better! Visit their website and read their ‘about’ section. What do they stand for? What kind of students do they award?
Your audience might be interested in how much you studied to get your 3.8 GPA. Your GPA and test scores may have helped get you into college, but they might not be enough to win you scholarship money. Thousands of students have near to perfect GPAs, and writing about it can be a bit dry.
Your audience wants to read about the challenges you’ve faced along the way or meaningful experiences you’ve had. Did you have to watch a younger sibling every day after school because your parents were at work? Have you experienced mental health challenges or learning disabilities that have made studying hard for you? How did you decide that you wanted to study business in college? This is what we mean when we say to dig deep. Go past the surface level. Talk about the experiences you have had that have gotten you to where you are today.
Step 2: What to Include in an Essay About Yourself
A scholarship essay about yourself is obviously very broad. You can take your essay in many directions. Remember, you want to provide information about yourself that makes your essay worth reading. Including facts about yourself in your essay is fine. But, you better be seasoning those facts with a lot of flavors.
Here are some ideas to include in your essay.
Topics You Can Address in Your Essay
There are plenty of ways you can talk about yourself in your essay. Remember, your essay must focus on yourself and your personal experiences in life. You can choose one or two of the following topics as the basis of your essay.
- Experiences that have inspired your degree choice.
- Challenges you’ve faced that have impacted your life and education.
- Unique hobbies you have or the sports you play.
- How you’ve changed over the years.
- Your experiences in school.
- Professional goals you have for the future.
- Your achievements.
- Special relationships that have inspired you. If you choose this topic, remember the essay still needs to focus on you.
The topic you choose to write about should be one that you can connect back to your education or career goals. If it didn’t impact your education or career in some way, it’s likely not relevant for the scholarship.
Remember, you need to talk about the why and the how. For example, why are you pursuing a degree in law? Why did you choose this degree path? How will a law degree help you in your future? How have past experiences led you to dream of becoming a lawyer?
Step 3: Sketch an Outline
Now that you have an idea of what you’ll write about it, it’s time to get organized. Creating an outline is your final step before starting to write. Choose one or two of the topics we suggested and start breaking down what you’ll write about in each paragraph. Your essay should consist of an introduction, 3-5 body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
Check out our tips on what you should and shouldn’t include in your essay:
- Impress from the start of your essay.
- Place yourself in the reader’s shoes. Do you show enough of your personality in your essay? Do you convince the reader that you deserve to win?
- Do your research and learn about the organization. Try and connect yourself to their initiatives. Do you have a hobby or goal that matches the organization? What can you bring to the organization?
- Only include relevant information. If something seems unnecessary or out of place, it probably is.
- Write in the first person, this is about you after all.
- Give specific examples. Don’t say you struggled during freshman year, instead, show what that struggle looked like.
- Show off your strengths and achievements.
- Make your essay interesting! If it doesn’t captivate your audience from the start, it’s not good enough.
- Proofread and edit your essay. Those little spelling mistakes can cost you the scholarship. They are distracting and they don’t do a good job at convincing the reader that you’re professional. Everybody makes mistakes but it’s on you to check your work before submitting.
- Use the correct format .
- Write about academic weaknesses in your transcripts. This is your chance to take responsibility for the ‘D’ you received during freshman year algebra. You might write about your struggles with algebra and how you were motivated to improve by getting a tutor. Definitely do not play the victim card by blaming a teacher!
- Making mistakes is human! Write about what you learned from your mistakes and how they have made you stronger.
- Be authentic- write how you speak (of course, with correct grammar). Trying to impress with big words from the thesaurus isn’t as impressive as you think.
- Follow the essay instructions! You can write the best essay but if you don’t follow instructions, you risk being disqualified.
- Lie- Making up stories to win over the scholarship judges isn’t going to win over anybody! Lies scream inauthenticity. Trust us, it’s obvious when students lie and scholarship judges aren’t impressed.
- Brag- If you think that bragging about your 4.0 GPA is going to win you scholarship money, you’re wrong. Show off your confidence in a way that doesn’t come across as overbearing and arrogant.
- Use the essay as an opportunity to divulge your deepest darkest family secrets. This is not the place to cry your heart out or disclose personal information.
- Be vague about your professional goals. What sounds better, awarding a student with clearly defined goals or a student who doesn’t know what they want to do in life?
- Repeat the same information over and over again. You will have your readers yawning!
- Use cliches. Cliches are overused! Be bold and different.
Step 4: How to Start an Essay About Yourself
As with all scholarship essays, your essay about yourself should captivate readers from the very beginning. Start your essay with a creative introduction that will make the readers want to continue reading your essay. You may choose to start with a personal story or experience.
Avoid using cliches such as “from a young age” or “for as long as I can remember.” Also, avoid using quotes. These are other peoples’ words, not your own.
At the end of your introduction paragraph, you should have a thesis statement that makes it clear to the reader why you are applying for the scholarship. They should be able to taste your enthusiasm and understand your motivation for applying.
How to Start an Essay About Yourself Example
When it comes to my passion for teaching others, you might say I wasn’t given much of a choice in life. As the older sister of four, it was my responsibility to lead the way and teach my two younger brothers and sister. At least, I assumed that responsibility. I helped them with everything from school projects to packing for camp in the summer. It’s no surprise to me that years later, I have chosen to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Education at the University of Texas in the fall. With this scholarship, I will be able to pursue my degree in education and return to my hometown to teach in a local elementary school after graduating.
Step 5: What to Include in Your Body Paragraphs
Your body paragraphs are the meat of your scholarship essay. This is where the scholarship readers really get to know you. Your body paragraphs should each contain an argument with supporting details and examples.
Your job in these paragraphs is to bring your personality out as much as possible. You also want to connect your arguments with your educational and career goals, and of course, to the scholarship you’re applying for. Make sure you relay to the reader how the scholarship will help you fulfill your goals.
How to Write a College Essay About Yourself Body Paragraphs Example
My role as a teacher to my little brothers and sister was only the start of it. As soon as I was of appropriate age, I started babysitting my neighbors on the weekends to earn extra money. Sure, that meant sacrificing my weekend nights with friends, but I was able to save up quite a lot of money from my Friday night and Saturday night gigs. For me, it was never only about the money. I loved spending time with the little kids. I would come up with fun activities to do with them, like “restaurant night,” where we would create menus and whip up ice cream sundaes in the kitchen.
By high school, it was clear to me that I wanted to be a teacher. I took several classes in high school that confirmed this dream of mine. I particularly enjoyed my early childhood education class where I learned theories in childhood development, classroom management techniques, and about developing curriculum. I even started to write up my own curriculum and made my younger siblings be in “school,” with me as their teacher. I don’t think they were too happy about all those extra hours of school…
Over the last year, I completed an internship as a teacher’s assistant. Every Tuesday and Thursday I spent half the day working with a 3rd-grade teacher at the local elementary school. I learned so much from this experience, like how to manage behavior problems and how to encourage shy students to participate in lessons. I can’t wait to come back to my hometown and work as a teacher after college.
Step 6: How to End an Essay About Yourself
By the time you get to writing your concluding paragraph, you may feel an urge to finish up your essay quickly. But, your concluding paragraph is also important in making that final last impression. Don’t rush through it.
Your concluding paragraph should wrap up your essay while giving an overview of the main points of your essay. You should do the following in your concluding sentence:
- Restate your thesis in other words.
- Give an overview of the arguments you made in your body paragraphs.
- End your concluding paragraph with a big thought related to your future.
How to End an Essay About Yourself Example
You might say that my upbringing made me who I am today, but I think it’s a lot more than that. I wouldn’t have the confidence I have today in myself and in my future goals if it weren’t for my studies and jobs throughout high school. I am so excited to start my degree at the University of Texas and keep developing the tools and skills I need to become the best teacher I can be.
Step 7: The full Example of How to Write a College Essay About Yourself
Now that you have learned how to write a solid introduction, conclusion, and body paragraphs, it’s time to put it all together. Here is the full example:
The “Tell Us About Yourself” scholarship essay prompt might feel frustrating. It can feel intimidating but it’s really not so bad once you know how to tackle it.
Use these tips and you’ll be good to go. Time to start writing!
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David Tabachnikov is the CEO of ScholarshipOwl. Formerly at Waze and Google, David is an experienced CTO/R&D manager with over 10 years of experience of leading tech teams. David fervently believes that students should have greater access to education, and is passionate about using technology to help them achieve that goal.
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- How to Write an About Myself Essay With Example
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How to write an about myself essay with example.
- Chloe Daniel
- Published On: July 09 ,2021
When you may have to write about yourself.
- Career advancement opportunities
- Internship inquiry letters
- Graduate school applications
- Cover letters
- Grant proposals
How to Write an Essay About Myself?
- Introduce yourself.
- Make sure to include your most important professional experience.
- Talk about significant awards or personal achievements.
- Introduce details about your personal life.
- Use a friendly and casual tone unless stated otherwise.
What Else Do You Need to Include in Your Self Introduction Essay?
- The things you want to learn.
- Your aspirations and dreams.
- The things you are good at.
- Your hobbies.
A Sample About Myself Essay
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