The word authentic, defined by Merriam-Webster as “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character,” is an integral aspect of a successful college application. But what does it really mean to be authentic, in the context of college admissions? A majority of our work with students is getting to know you on a deeper, more personal level and helping you showcase what you care about in your applications. Our best advice when writing essays for colleges is to focus on letting your true self shine in your applications. Consider the following tips when striving for authenticity:
- Don’t be afraid of yourself! After all, your college application should be a representation of all that makes you, YOU. Go ahead and share your passion for needlepointing, even if you think it doesn’t pertain to your interest in studying chemistry. Admissions teams appreciate learning about the various layers to your interests and values, as they provide a window into the prospective role you might have on their campus.
- Be careful not to write FOR the application readers. Although we do advise reading about a school’s mission to see if it aligns with your values, don’t try guessing what application readers might be looking for in assessing applicants. Remember, there isn’t any “right answer.” Instead, write in your own voice about what matters most to you – you’ll shine through even brighter that way!
- Highlight activities that speak to your curiosity and interests. By choosing activities throughout high school that speak to your interests and values, rather than ones that “look good on your application,” your essays will be genuine. When it comes time to write about your involvement, that true passion and love for the experience will shine through, and admissions readers will better understand your motivations and values.
- Be vulnerable – yes, another buzz word! Vulnerability goes hand in hand with authenticity. The more willing you are to share the facets of yourself – your dreams, your personality, and even your fears – the easier it will be for application readers to gauge who you are as a person and how you’ll fit within the school community.
Ensuring you are unapologetically authentic in your college search process gives you the greatest chance of finding right-fit schools. So go on and BE YOURSELF. We already know how great YOU are — let colleges find out as well!