What Kind of Questions Can I Expect On My College Essay?

what kind of questions can i expect on my college application essayEssay questions can come in all shapes and sizes.  Depending on what the college is looking for in their student body, you may be asked to write on a specific topic or to generate your own.  Most length requirements range from 500 to 1000 words and you should be careful to adhere to the instructions.  Over the broad range of questions asked though, most fall into three main categories:

Tell us why you would like to attend our school

In the case of these kinds of questions directed at why you’re looking to attend their school, admissions officers are often looking two things:

  • What are your overall educational goals and pursuits in life
  • How much do you know about this college in the first place

Hopefully you were diligent in your research about the college's academic departments, visited the college, and brushed up on the history of the college.  This makes the answer a whole lot easier to come up with.  Admissions officers are still looking for depth in your response and your commitment to the school.  Mentioning specific conversations with professors or students during your campus visit could yield a good response.  Perhaps a specific major or courses in their catalog that is a means to your overall pursuit in life will yield the same.

Tell us about yourself

These questions tend to be more open ended and left up to you to provide the focus.  FOCUS is the word that is important to take away from this section.  The admissions officers are looking for your character and personal values to come through in describing an isolated incident.  They want to know how you handle yourself in challenging situations or validate a virtue you hold of particular importance in your life.  Avoid the tone of victimization and let your enduring qualities come through.

Demonstrate your creativity and depth of knowledge

Questions in this category are more common and target a broader range of creativity and thoughtfulness.  Perhaps even some research of your own will be required to bring factual depth into the response.  These questions can brush up against world events, historical figures you admire, and books or authors you have read.  A common pitfall is to head straight for major world events and popular avatars of the past.  Look to avoid the obvious response and search for something that demonstrates a broader range of information.

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