They say that it’s important in life to “be yourself.” We couldn’t agree more. On a first date, it’s best not to pretend that you’re a highly successful hedge fund manager if in fact you are a barista at Starbucks. This is especially the case if you happen to arrive at your date wearing a green Starbucks apron. Oy vey. Don’t do that. Seriously. We trust this point makes sense to you and, naturally, one could make the leap that since you should always be yourself, you should be yourself in your college essays. That answer is also yes. You should be yourself. But there must be a qualifier — to an extent!
If being yourself means that you watch “General Hospital” when you come home from school, don’t write about that in your college essays. Don’t be yourself! If being yourself means that you most enjoy spending time with friends and going to the movies, don’t be yourself! If being yourself means that you’re going to write about all of the fancy trips you’ve taken with your family, don’t be yourself! If being yourself means that the most intellectual book you’ve ever read for pleasure is “Green Eggs and Ham,” don’t be yourself! If being yourself means that your essay consists of one big brag of how good you are at soccer, don’t be yourself!
Just as you should on a first date, be honest. Be true to yourself. But shape your story in a compelling way. Maybe “Green Eggs and Ham” shaped your love of literature. Maybe “General Hospital” reruns that your mom forced you to watch inspired a passion within you for cancer research that you currently conduct at Sloan Kettering. While that might be a stretch, it has the potential to make for a cute essay!