How to discover your uniqueness (for college essays)

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Yes, you are special. And one-of-a-kind. But how will the colleges you apply to know that? More importantly, how will you convey that you are unique in your application essays?

While I can’t guarantee that this article will help you discover your uniqueness or your passions, I can say that everyone has something interesting to say, no matter who you are.

So, to review–I recently wrote about the importance of uniqueness in the college admissions essays. Today I will write about how to discover what is special about you. (And read more to find the free download, an excerpt from Erin’s Admissions Magic.)Now of course I know some of you out there will have no trouble at all thinking of things to write about; a lot of you have a good and reasonable understanding of who you are, your place in the world, and how you contribute to it. This article is not intended for you, although of course you’re welcome to read it. When I’m writing this, I’m thinking of those innumerable people who come up to me after class to ask me what to write about. A lot of these people share some characteristics–they tend to be relatively quiet in class, they tend to undervalue anything that they do, and they often think that, quite simply, they truly have no special qualities at all.

Accept that you do have something important and interesting to write about

The first step is simply to accept the fact that you do have some special qualities, no matter who you are. This is probably no easy task, but certainly somewhere deep down inside you, you must have had the thought at one time or another that you wish someone could recognize your talent to draw, your ability to listen, your good study habits, or your general concern for others. Perhaps you like to read Japanese manga and sketch the characters in the stories. ¬†Maybe you’re ¬†quiet but rabid fan of hip-hop and are fascinated by hip-hop culture and the way it has spread around the globe. Or perhaps you’ve grown up in a non-traditional family (and really, what is considered traditional these days?), perhaps with only one parent in the household, and you’ve been expected to work, to help with household tasks, or to take care of a sibling or relative. Any of these things make you unique.

Interview others and ask them what makes you interesting

The next thing you could do is simply ask others what they think about you. I know that this may seem awkward, but it can actually be a mutually rewarding activity. I think that people should spend more time talking about the things they like about one another and not be afraid of giving compliments. (See the attached excerpt for a worksheet, which also contains some dos and don’t for writing your personal statements.)

Download the free handout

Below is an excerpt from Admissions Magic, which we give to our students at the TestMagic learning centers in the Bay Area of California (USA). I’ve converted a few pages to a PDF; I hope that it helps.

Of course, if you have any questions or comments, please post below. I’d like to hear how other people have found their strengths and have learned what makes them unique.

Free download! TestMagic Admissions Essays Tips

2 Responses

  1. Crystal
    Very useful tips! And very uplifting. Haha.
  2. Nora
    These are some great tips for writing your college essay. Many college applicants get “stuck” on their essay, getting discouraged about what to write. Using these tips is a great way to find something interesting and unique to include in your college essay.

    Being prepared and knowing what you need to do in order to apply for college will save you time and energy in the long run!

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