On occasion, students and their parents will very matter of factly tell us that they want to share their true selves in their Common Application Personal Statement. That’s great! Sharing who you are and what you’re all about is so very important in this college essay. But only to a point. If sharing your true self means writing about how you watch “Vampire Diaries” and “Orange Is The New Black” when you come home from school, consider not sharing your true self. If sharing your true self means writing about how you delight in breaking the law, don’t share your true self. If sharing your true self means writing about your crush on the prettiest girl at school, don’t share your true self.
Just as in dating, what you present to admissions officers — and how you present it — matters a great deal. Don’t give them information that will be used against you! Give them information that will inspire them to want to go to bat for you, to push for you should your application go to committee. Don’t share details about yourself — however true — that paint you negatively, that portray you as arrogant, disrespectful, unlikable, or dishonest. It’s the precise opposite of what you should be doing in all of your many college admissions essays.
So by all means offer college admissions officers a window into your world. Take a chance. Don’t write about something boring. Don’t write about grandpa or about that soccer game in which your team came back from being down big. Write about something interesting. Demonstrate your intellectual curiosity in your college essays. Demonstrate your passions — so long as such passions will help your case in admissions. A passion for violence will not help your case! But just be mindful that this window into your world helps rather than hurts your chances for admission.
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