Just a few months ago, I was squirming all over the thought of writing essays, ignoring my rapidly expanding to-do list, shifting uneasily over my drafts, and literally looking through deadlines like they didn’t exist. But for all incoming students, here are a few tips that I believe helped me:
- Do NOT read other people’s essays: Many prospective students read ‘successful’ essays, and to their credit, it is with the genuine intention of just ‘knowing where to start’. However, what it really does is that it creates the image of a perfect essay in the nooks and crannies of your head. So you end up moulding all your write-ups in a frame that isn’t yours. Remember, even though you painted the picture, it’s doesn’t remain yours to keep.
- Revisit your Certificates: There were many things about myself that I’d forgotten, or never considered accomplishments which helped add color to my stories, and structure to my words. If you really look up your life through school, college and at work, you will start to see a pattern. This is the link to different events, happenings and stories of your life. It’s somewhat like meditation, you’ve got to force yourself to think harder initially, but towards the end, the light shines through.
- Show varied facets of yourself: You are not a collection of certificates, but an individual with a thought process, a mind at work, a passion with a purpose, an energy with a cause – try to bring out all the different avenues that you’ve contributed to and gained from, I think that helps.
- A Failure is a Strength is a Failure: A failure can be your essay’s strength – if you know what you learnt from it. Say for example, you started a start-up, but failed because of some reason. That’s a star story! Needless to say, don’t overdo it.
- Read, Review and Replace: It’s important that your essays sound exactly like you, so make your parents/ siblings/close friends read and offer feedback. It really helped me know if my essays ‘sounded’ like me. A few additional reviews don’t hurt (Replacements do).
Wish you good luck and amazing essays, I’m sure that a few months from you won’t believe that it’s really over!
Forte Fellow, Class of 2015
Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University