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How do I write a college application essay? How do I describe myself or my background or my interests if I'm only in high school and haven't had many profound experiences?

I'm in high school hoping to go into either a health or law profession after college. I am currently undecided about which university I want to go to and what my major will be. #college #college-applications

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John’s Answer

Harry this is the perfect time to begin thinking about essay writing, while in high school.

You have a unique background, interests and personality. This is your chance to tell your story (or at least part of it). The best way to tell your story is to write a personal, thoughtful essay about something that has meaning for you. Be honest and genuine, and your unique qualities will shine through. Admissions officers have to read an unbelievable number of college essays, most of which are forgettable. Many students try to sound smart rather than sounding like themselves. Others write about a subject that they don't care about, but that they think will impress admissions officers. You don't need to have started your own business or have spent the summer hiking the Appalachian Trail. Colleges are simply looking for thoughtful, motivated students who will add something to the first-year class.


PUT YOURSELF IN THE SHOES OF THE COLLEGE – At the end of the admissions process, colleges want to accept students who will graduate. They want to accept students who will become successful and prosperous in their endeavors. They also want to associate themselves with one’s success. So, when writing your admissions essay, it is fundamental that you exhibit yourself as a person who loves learning, thinks in a critical manner, and has a passion for your major.


• Admissions committees want to know why you are interested in their program and what makes you a good fit.
• Specific details about what interests you about the program and why you are a good fit.
• Information about your past accomplishments that have led you to choose this program.
• Your plans for the future – how you plan to succeed in the program and what you see in your future after completing the program.
• Supplemental stories and anecdotes to help drive your point home and to help you stand out.


• More is not Better – Do not ramble on.
• Do Not Brag – Tooting your own horn may come across as arrogant.
• Do Your Homework – Do not give the impression you know little about the college and your major.
• Be Real – Do not make something up about yourself just to impress the admissions readers.
• Spell Check is Not Your Friend – Make sure several people check your essay for punctuation and grammatical errors.

Stick to your unique voice and writing style and plan the layout of your college essay in advance to avoid multiple changes and time losses. After brainstorming everything you want to say in your essay. Create an effective outline, every effective essay has three major parts: introduction, body, and your essay conclusion. You need to follow this natural progression to make your paper easy and coherent to read.

Hope this was Helpful Harry

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Joseph’s Answer

First off, relax! ;-) You are an incredible person and just by asking these questions you have indicated that you probably have some story to tell about your background and interests. As a former HR professional, please heed my advice - stay away from templates and canned steps for presenting yourself.

If at all possible try and find out if your college has a screening software that searches applications with software keying in on words and phrases. Ensure that your story has what they want and does not have what they do not want.

Remember that every human being on the planet throughout history and in the future is unique. Find out what is unique about you and showcase that and all your other positive attributes - that is attributes that will reflect positively on the University's image and add value to their programs.

Use a writing voice that shows confidence without arrogance. Finally, reflect on your life experience up to this point and highlight situations where you have made a decision that caused a "ripple" and what that "ripple" ended up doing.

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Mariana’s Answer

Harry, you don't need profound experiences to write a great college essay. Some of the best essays are those that turn the reader's attention to mundane and let the writer's personality shine through. Take a look at this well known one (aka the Costco essay) https://www.businessinsider.com/high-school-senior-who-got-into-5-ivy-league-schools-shares-her-admissions-essay-2016-4

Look also at the "Essays that worked" section on John Hopkins website; right now you can find Class of 2019-23 essays there. Those are the real essays that students wrote, and JHU admission counselors added comments on what made them so remarkable. https://apply.jhu.edu/application-process/essays-that-worked/ You will find that there is not one single approach that is required to make your essay stand out. Give yourself enough time to work it through, and let your voice be heard.

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Cheryl’s Answer

Hey Harry. Picking what to write about for your essay does not require educational background. Even in your short life, you have personal experiences and background that differentiate you from others. Ask yourself, how am I different from my friends? If you cannot think of something, the Common App essay prompts give you some good ideas to think about. They pick these prompts in order to help you pick a topic that you can relate to, and then share it from your perspective. What do they need to know about you that is not already in the app. There's plenty...you just haven't thought of it yet.
Btw, the other answers listed above are excellent. :) Notice we all share the idea of simply being authentic.