By Rajkamal Rao
The Essay or Writing Sample ranked 5th in the admissions factors list and continues to be a critical component of a college application. It is the one thing that brings out the true personality of a candidate unrelated to objective measures such as grades and exams. Good essays can be winners, all other things being equal.
According to the College Board, essay questions on college applications can be broadly grouped into three types.
1. The “Describe” essay - is intended to know more about who you are. Examples:
- Please complete a one-page personal statement
- Describe a person you admire or a book that you love?
- What is an extracurricular activity that has been meaningful to you?
- Describe one way in which you have contributed to your community, whether in your family, the classroom or your neighborhood - MIT
- A community to which you belong and the footprint you have left. - Yale
- A time in the last few years when you felt genuine excitement learning about something.
- Why do you want to attend this school?
- Tell us about your career goals and any plans you may have for graduate study
3. The “Discuss the Issue" type essay - intended to evaluate your ability to think. Examples:
- Do you believe there's a generation gap? Describe the differences between your generation and others.
- What's so odd about odd numbers? - University of Chicago
- If you could live for a day as another person, past or present, who would it be? Why? (35 words or fewer)
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