Defining Qualities Rock College Application Essays!

Defining Qualities Rock College Application Essays!

Some of my tutoring students skim via a college application essay prompt ( like the five choices for the most popular Application essay requirement), as well as in a flash, find one which speaks to them.

Other people come armed with a long list of topic ideas they are toying with for months.

But most, I would say a lot more than 80 per cent, have no idea how to start.

And it is a awful experience.

‘There’s nothing special about me personally,’ may be the common refrain from these glum and anxious rising seniors.

‘ I’m simply regular and boring,’ they state.

I listen for a bit. And try to assure them they will find an awesome topic ( simply because they all do!).

When they calm down, I introduce them to my sure-fire topic finding bag of tricks.

I always begin by looking for the things I call their ‘defining attributes.’ Occasionally I throw in their ‘defining characteristics’ and ‘core values’ as well.

How come this work?

If you start brainstorming your topic ideas around one of your defining qualities, you immediately direct your essay writing process within the right direction, on many levels.

As well as your essay will be focused and help you get noticed from the competition!

Listed here Are 5 Reasons Why Defining Qualitiesare The Best Place to begin

If you begin with ONE defining quality, your college application will…

  1. Have sharp FOCUS!By directing your brainstorming around ONE of your defining qualities, you effectively focus your topic. Instead of attempting to share many parts of your wonderful self, and risking an overly broad and dull essay, you pick someone to concentrate every thing around.With that one move, you catapult your essay topic over and beyond the tens and thousands of boring essays where students try to pack in too many ideas and information about by themselves.
  2. Feature interesting STORIES!Once you pick ONE defining quality to create about, you have a starting place to brainstorm real-life experiences and min-stories you should use to illustrate that quality. Stories would be the easiest way to power narrative style personal essays.If you produce these real-life examples from ONE defining quality, you create certain you share only stories, experiences and moments that help your overarching point, instead of random ones that are all over the place.
  3. Is likely to be in regards to you! If you showcase just one defining quality in your essay, you are making sure that your essay will likely to be in regards to you, even though you include or mention other people from you life in that essay. a common error students make with these essays is to use a real-life story about someone else, and their essay eventually ends up being way too much about that other person instead of themselves.The whole point of a individual statement essay is for the school to get to know YOU, and never your grandma or teacher or tutoring student. Stick to your ONE defining quality, and also you don’t have to worry too much about this pitfall.
  4. Your stories will likely to be RELEVANT!If you start brainstorming real-life stories around your ONE defining quality, you are 100 percent guaranteed to find good ones. Consider it: If you picked ONE defining quality that’s a big element of what turn you into unique and special, then can’t help but have experienced experiences and moments in your past that occurred for you which were somehow related to that quality.So trust that selecting just one quality will yield a great amount of fantastic ideas and experiences you can use in your essay to share, clarify, analyze and reflect upon.
  5. Your essay will be PERSONAL!If you share a defining quality, yous essay has got the most useful opportunity possible of being extremely individual. I believe individual essays are best simply because they engage and relate genuinely to readers, and are the most memorable. This is everything you wish inside a college application essay.Writing about ONE defining quality makes an essay individual because that quality is one that can help define you meaning it plays a large role in making you . In addition individual than that? While the little moments and experiences you utilize to illustrate that quality will likely to be equally individual. Hurrah!!

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To make certain that should be a strong adequate instance to convince you to definitely begin by creating a list of your defining attributes or characteristics.

This entire blog has actually helpful posts to show you how to spin that quality into a killer essay! So does my writing guide, Escape Essay Hell!, and my online essay writing program.

Even practically all the sample essays written by former students in my collection, called Heavenly Essays, started with their defining qualities.

What exactly are you waiting for? Stop all your worrying and get started!

Find Your Defining attributes and traits in this post!

Still puzzled or have questions? Ask away in the responses area. Everyone loves to listen to from you!

No doubt about this.

Supplemental essays are the nasty little vexation associated with college application process. ( And also you thought the Common App essay ended up being a pain!)

I would suggest students first tackle writing their primary essay for The Common Application, or other applications that require an extended, personal-statement variety of essay.

Get that out of the means very first. It is the most difficult and a lot of crucial.

But it’s never too early to begin knocking off those pesky shorter essays, called supplemental essays.

Many universites and colleges have circulated the prompts for their needed supplemental essays for 2016-17.

Very first, collect a list of all the supplemental essays you will need to answer in one place ( get the prompts for the supplemental essays required by all of your target schools on the web sites or on The Common Application.).

Search for ones that request common topics or themes, even though the actual questions might vary.

Generally, supplemental essays fall into three categories:

  1. The prompts that are asked the most frequently by many schools. Included in these are the ones that ask:a. Exactly why are you a fit for our college or university?b. Tell us regarding the intended major or industry of study.c. Write about one of your extracurricular interests, or a educational interest, or perhaps a talent/accomplishment/passion/goal, etc.d. Tell us about your ‘world,’ or cultural history, household, community, neighborhood, etc.
  2. The other common style of supps ask more specific questions, and often give a famous quote or statement and ask you to definitely react to it.Here’s a good example from Tufts University 2016-17 supps:’There is a Quaker saying: ‘Let your life speak.’ Describe the environment in which you were raised your family, house, neighborhood, or community and exactly how it influenced the individual you are today. (200 250 words)
  3. The brand new kid on the supp block would be the prompts that are ‘out-of-the-box’ and are looking to get students to showcase their imagination, personality and creativity.Some examples: a. Where’s Waldo? b. Produce a class c. What is your preferred word? d. What’s square one?

If you want to get super organized, sort your list of supplemental essays into these 3 categories to help recognize commonalities and overlapping questions.

This will assist you to observe how you can use similar ideas, experiences, details, topics and answers for your brief essay reactions.

You will probably find the most crossover in supps in the category number 1 since those would be the most common supp questions.

However you might be surprised how you can reuse from all three categories. (Notice how the Tufts prompts about that Quaker quote really is asking about your ‘world’ or community. This topic is also perhaps one of the most common prompts for supplemental essays from the first No. 1 group. See how they overlap?)

The concept is that you create your lifetime easier by recycling your very best tips during these supps. It is totally kosher to repeat answers and themes because each college or university has actually their own separate supplemental essays and doesn’t see or care about that which you send to the other people.

For instance, if you had a unique experience in which you learned something crucial, then you can mine that experience to simply help answer more than one supplemental essay.

The key is to recognize exactly what lessons you gleaned from that experience, and zero in on particular examples as you are able to share in your supplemental essay about this.

It mightn’t hurt to brainstorm and collect ideas and experiences on a piece of paper or computer file as you are able to develop and send back to when focusing on these supplemental essays. Possibly pull aside your resume or other list of your activities and achievements to spark ideas.

You certainly will start to observe how particular experiences and activities fall into line with the different supplemental essay prompts.


Say, for instance, you are interested in science, and also at this point, think you might like to study marine biology.

Great! This self-knowledge should assist you to answer questions from number 1, such as that which you plan to study and just why you are a fit at a particular school.

The secret would be to recognize details from past, associated experiences that first motivated your curiosity about this subject, as well as study details from your target schools that could help you develop that interest further.

Also, if you’re asked to create about an extracurricular or educational activity or interest or talent or achievement, begin by brainstorming any experiences related to your interest in technology and particularly marine biology.


If you are a student who still has no clue actually what you want to major in or study in college, don’t worry! You are in the majority of college-bound children.

The things I recommend for you personally would be to focus more in your defining attributes and core values and brainstorm associated experiences that will help you discover details to help answer those same prompts in number 1. (Find your defining attributes HERE.)

Instead of lining up your reactions based on a particular interest, you certainly will use a quality or worth to identify associated moments or experiences that illustrate them.

For instance, if you’re telling a college why it is perfect for you, talk about one particular core value you hold and explain just how and just why you developed it (using particular details from your past), and exactly how and just why (also using details) that target school has actually programs, program, facilities, etc. that could assist you to continue to develop it.

A far more specific example of this?

Say one of your defining attributes is being innovative. Think of ‘times’ and experiences from your past when you have utilized this quality, such as the time you helped run a fundraiser for orphaned iguanas at your school, or even the time you interned at a hospital and helped adapt a wheelchair for a blind patient.

You can then talk about these particular experiences to answer all sorts of prompts, such as the Why You at Our School? ( because your target school also promotes innovation…) to fairly share an achievement (recount one of these ‘times’ you did something innovative) to inform us about your ‘world’ (speak about the wheelchair in that hospital ‘world’ or community).

I know this may be a good deal to take in. (Keep breathing! This will make more sense once you begin.)

To simplify, brainstorm two lists to spur ideas of these supplemental essays:

1. list of interesting activities/experiences/moments…2. shorts list of core values and defining individual attributes

From there, start to dig up those KEY details and specific experiences that will give you something interesting and original to incorporate in your supplemental essays other than the typical, over-general dribble.

All you need is one juicy detail in order to make all the difference. Why? They truly are so brief!! (and a lot of students don’t do this.)


Okay, i’ve an additional nifty tip for you on these supplemental essays.

For every of these prompts, perhaps the most ‘crazy’ ones, this works like a charm:

  1. Browse the prompt and think about what you general solution would be. Then think some more to get something specific that happened to you that has been related in a few way to your overall solution.
  2. Chances are that thing that occurred involved some form of problem (challenge, barrier, change, failure, setback, accident, etc.). It does not have to be a huge crises. Any little, associated problem will do.
  3. Consider what you learned from managing that problem.

See if you can utilize that life lesson in your supplemental essay. Chances are that incident or experience could work as a particular example of a larger point you create about yourself in that essay. And it will make your essay more individual, which you wish!

The big secret to bumping up a general supplemental essay would be to include details and particular examples. Of course, you will probably need to include some broad, sweeping statements, but remember to pop in those smaller details to prove or support your points.


The ‘Why Do you really Fit?’ Supplemental Essay Prompt: do not simply say how you love the group character at your target school. Let them know just how you have a collection of over 30 over their activities group’s hats, including a classic one which you simply remove at church.

The Extracurricular Supplemental Essay Prompt: Don’t let them know how you are a skilled piano player and have claimed many prizes. Discuss the time you slipped off the bench throughout a competition, but jumped back without losing a beat (and that which you learned from that experience.)

The ‘ What’s Your Major?’ Supplemental Essay Prompt: Don’t simply let them know you want to study marine biology as you love dolphins and are concerned about global warming. Describe the time throughout your summertime task during the community pool in which you practiced holding your breathing so you could earn your deep sea diving certificate and someday work for Green Peace.

I bet you’ve got even better real-life example and moments than those I shared here. And remember, be on alert for ways you can re-use these ‘times’ and details to answer different prompts.

You will be amazed just how this overwhelming task can be contained with this style of brainstorming for specific moments and experiences.

Not only will you get your arms around these annoying little supplemental essays, you certainly will nail them!

Simply try it out.

Good luck!

Still puzzled? That is ok. Simply let me know you questions in the responses. ( There are not any dumb questions!)

Here is another post on How to Write Short Essays you might find helpful too!

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