September 9, 2021

Self-Revelation Essays: How to Approach

Essay questions of this type come as close to any in directly asking you to, “Tell us about yourself”:

  • “What matters most to you, and why?” (Stanford)
  • “What makes you feel alive when you are doing it, and why?” (Berkeley Haas)
  • 25 random things about yourself.” (Duke Fuqua)
  • “Tuck students recognize how their individuality adds to the fabric of Tuck. Tell us who you are.” (Dartmouth Tuck)
  • “As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?” (Harvard)

They are a varied lot, but they share one potential trap: the sheer breadth of potential subject matter they could inspire you to disclose. The danger is that you’ll try to show who you are in so many different directions that your essay will become a grab-bag of events, significant others, and personal and community experiences loosely strapped together with a blanket theme. An essay that tries to chew off too much will lack the detailed stories that really communicate your unique life experiences (note that even Cornell table of contents approach can include running text). Honing in on a limited number of personalized themes and luminous, vividly etched moments are your salvation. Identify key experiences, qualities, or interests of yours, and then drive them home with anecdotes that illustrate your theme.

For more help with your essays and the application process, contact the Admitify team!