Telling Your Story in a College Essay

March 24, 2022

You are now in the process of applying to college and whether you have reached the essay part or not, you are in the right place. This is the time to generate some ideas about the activities, hobbies, passions, dreams, aspirations, goals, and achievements that you cannot wait to share.

Sharing your Journey

Authenticity is key. No matter what, stick to your true self and your story. The college admissions counselor that reads your story wants to know who you are by the end of it; keeping your story real is the best way to make it happen. You want to paint a picture of the most accurate version of yourself. This means including not only the best version of yourself, but also sharing challenges that you have faced and what you have overcome. That is part of what has shaped the person you are now.

As a student who went through this process myself, sharing my background, achievements, and challenges that I experienced along the way was the best way to describe who I am. There is nothing to figure out, simply tell your story. Give yourself freedom to describe it creatively. There is no formula to this process. The hardest part for me, which could be true for many students, was the beginning. How do you start? Where do you start in a seventeen or eighteen-year-old story?  

Where to Begin

I started with myself, my identity, and who I am. This can help put context in a story that only belongs to you. Who you are inside, and how you identify yourself, matters. This is a key piece of information that lets the admissions counselor step in your shoes.

The next step is to guide the reader through where your journey has taken you and what you have learned from it. Describing places you have been and how they impacted you also gives a little more insight on who you are. People you have met along the way that made a positive impact on you are definitely worth mentioning. And on top of that is sharing memorable experiences. This also gives you, as a soon-to-be first-year college student, a chance to showcase your talents and skills.

Review and Finalize

Feel free to make a draft and have at least one person you trust to have a look and suggest edits. People that are close to you are good candidates for this part. They read right through you in ways few people can. They will approve of your authenticity and see if the person they know is the one you share in your essay. And this should be no problem since you were being true to yourself all along and they can easily relate to you. It is precisely what the admissions counselor wants. To connect with you in a real and meaningful way.