The Ivy Coach Daily

October 30, 2011

Tributes in College Essays

A tribute to your grandfather in your college essay is a tough sell to admissions counselors. You need to shed insight on you — not your grandfather (photo credit: Andrew Chen).

A number of students like to put tributes in college essays. What do we mean by tributes? By tributes, we mean that a number of students like to write an essay that, say, their grandfather would be proud of. Maybe the essay is about how a student’s grandfather battled racism in Civil Rights era South Carolina. Maybe the essay is about how a student’s mother has struggled with MS and how her mother is her personal hero. Is there anything wrong with these essays? There’s nothing wrong with writing about something from the heart, no. There’s nothing wrong with writing about family members who have inspired you. But, often times, these essays aren’t the best option.

Any way you cut it — even if you write a tribute essay about your grandmother’s perseverance or your father’s courage — it has to showcase something about you. Don’t just showcase your grandfather’s personality. Don’t just tell us how courageous your sister is. Shed insight on yourself through these anecdotes. But also keep in mind that college admissions counselors are inundated with tributes in college essays. Sometimes, it’s better to dare to be different, to not write the kind of essay that everyone else is writing.

While you’re here, check out this video on one student’s college essay tribute to his deceased grandfather. We hope you get in a good laugh! And let us know your thoughts on writing tributes in your college admissions essays by posting below!

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