June 10, 2022

Self-Revelation Essays

In today’s blog the Admitify team is highlighting tips on the self-revelation essay.


Self-revelation or self-disclosing essays can be powerfully helpful in showcasing the self-aware person behind your resume and test scores.  Yet these types of essays are often the most challenging precisely because they focus less on your grand ambitions and past accomplishments, but rather on your authentic personality.  Part of the challenge they pose is that effective self-revelation essays are distinctive and genuine, do not fit some template idea of what you think schools want to hear.  Focus on the real you – your background, passions, life challenges, uniqueness or diversity factors.


One group of self-revelation essay questions is the classic “Tell us about yourself” question:

  • What matters most to you, and why? (Stanford)
  • 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?
  • Tuck students recognize how their individuality adds to the fabric of Tuck. Tell us who you are.
  • What makes you feel alive when you are doing it, and why? (Haas)
  • Values are what guide you in your life and work. What values are important to you and how have they influenced you? (Kellogg)


The sheer breadth of potential subject matter these essays might inspire you to disclose is daunting.  So focus first on outlining and honing in on the key life experiences and luminous moments that you believe have changed you most or are most unique to you.  Start with your best experiences and don’t worry about your ‘theme’ – it can wait. When have you been challenged or have challenged yourself most? When has adversity or reality changed how you see yourself, people or the world? Which specific life experiences have meant the most to you? If these stories show leadership or accomplishments that you are proud of, congratulations. If not, these experiences can still be worth building an essay around.  Remember, it is not enough to describe an experience and leave it be.  You must dig deeper into the why, what, and how that experience has shaped, evolved, or made you feel.


What “Not” to do in “Tell us about yourself” questions:

  • Forget that the focus should be you. Make sure this essay corroborates with the themes of your overall application yet provides a different lens into your personality and what you bring to the table.
  • Choose inappropriate material. Tricky topics such as personal relationships, religion or politics can risk turning off the admissions reader if handled poorly (or at all).  If you must broach these topics, focus on how they have enabled you to evolve or do for others.
  • Fail to admit weaknesses. Failing to acknowledge your negatives or flipping the switch and selling them as strengths weakens your credibility.
  • Write passion essays that lack passion. While this is obvious, make sure there is enough self-reflection time to enable an authentic and vivid prose of your experiences.  Spending time to outline and read over your essay when drafted is important to ensure you are truly conveying the story in the way you want to convey it.


For expert guidance on writing and editing your self-revelation essays, contact Admitify today!