College Application Essay Guidance, Writing

Show the Real You

realyou“Sheila” bounded into our first meeting with a wide smile across her face, but that smile soon disappeared when I asked her about her essay. She’d been trying to write it for weeks but had gotten nowhere. “I don’t know what to write about!” she sighed.

We started to talk. About the subjects she enjoyed. About how she spent her time outside of school. She mentioned a summer job as a waitress, which had turned into a year-round gig. She’d been at it for four years. The restaurant had a funny name and the story of how she got the job was also funny. She mentioned once overhearing a customer talk about writing a Yelp review, and then how she started regularly reading Yelp and Trip Advisor, trying to guess which customers had written which reviews.

In that moment, I knew she had a topic for her essay. I didn’t know right away how she would structure the essay, but I knew this subject matter would show the real Sheila— go-getter, people person, hard worker, someone with a sense of humor.

“Can I really write about that?” she asked

I smiled. “Yes!”

Is that enough?

Yes, it would be enough. Rising seniors, you don’t have to cure cancer or develop a life-changing iPhone app. You just have to find a story that shows the real you in action, a story that demonstrates your strengths, your best qualities.

The real you is enough!