Early 2000s kids, aka those filling out the Common Application this fall, have a pretty funky paradigm when it comes to how big the ego should be. Generation Z falls right behind us Millennials, who have been criticized for being overly encouraged as kids. If Millennials are getting a bad rep for loving the participation trophy and being way too self-confident, what’s a Generation Z-er to do when it comes to trying to sell themselves to colleges?
Listen up, Generation Z. Take it from a so-called self-obsessed Millennial herself: a place between humble and prideful exists, and that’s the exact place you want to reach in your college application essays. Here are five “what ifs?” of college essay humble-bragging and what to do about each of them.
Related:How to Write a Great College Application Essay
If you’re afraid of bragging...
College essays are about selling yourself. If you were selling a pen, you would definitely want to talk to your buyer about the pen’s high-quality ink, super-comfy grip, and trendy appearance. You would never leave any of those amazing pen attributes out because you want the buyer to want the pen. When writing your college essays, think of yourself as the pen. Never, ever leave out something great about yourself because you are afraid of bragging. College essays are the only time you get to talk about all of the wonderful things that make you you without anyone judging you for it. So take advantage!
If you want to come off as confident…
Showing confidence in your college essays might sound tricky, but with the right anecdotes, you can fully achieve that confident aura without literally saying, “I’m confident!” If you’re passionate about something unique that you might not have mentioned in your college app thus far, write about it in the essay. Talk about the time you did an underground production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show even though you didn’t know anyone else auditioning for it. If you thought becoming a ventriloquist as a kid was really cool and eventually gave it a shot, write about it. The best way to sound confident without outright telling the reader so in your essay is to write a story that shows you are confident. That will be more than enough to sell them on you.
If you think you might sound full of yourself…
The “show, don’t tell” rule of writing applies in college essays too. For example, if you are writing an essay about your summer job, never say, “I was the best employee at the grocery store.” Rather, show that you were a great employee by telling a story about the time you caught a shoplifter or exhibited great customer service. You never need to tell the reader you are superior or the best in any way if you can show them instead.
If you feel the need to tell the reader your credentials....
There is a whole other section of the Common App where you list the leadership roles you’ve had and the awards you’ve won. You don’t need to mention them again in the essay portion unless the story you’re telling calls for it. Say you are writing an essay about the time you won a particularly interesting debate for your high school debate team—you can write about your accomplishment without sounding cocky. For instance, rather than saying “I was the best debater on my team, which is why I am captain,” you could talk about the reason you are so passionate about whatever topic you debated that day.
The place for competing with what you’ve done in high school is in the rest of the Common App. The place for letting the college know who you are and what you’d be bringing to the college’s community as a person is in the essay. The best way to make yourself more competitive in the essay portion of your application is to write an essay that describes exactly who you are on a day-to-day basis rather than talking about your achievements. There are a few colleges famous for requesting applicants to pick one of their friends and have that friend write an essay about said applicant. While that type of essay might sound pretty nerve-wracking, the takeaway from the prompt is that colleges want to know what someone you hang around all the time thinks of you. Ultimately, a university is looking for a great addition to their campus, and in the case of writing a portrait of your personality in an essay, you should never have to brag, and you should have a lot of reasons to be confident in who you are.
Ultimately, the college essay is all about balance. Don’t tell the reader how great you are—show them instead. Admission officers will rarely be turned off by an applicant who wrote a great story about something wonderful they did, but they might find it a little off-putting if you call it wonderful yourself.
Looking for more college essay tips? Check out our Application Essay Clinic.
Subject: Introducing Yourself to Your Instructor
My name is Amit Vaidya. I am from India. I am in my first semester of senior year in Civil Engineering at Clemson University, SC. In this memo, I am going to tell you little bit about my background, interests, achievements and my goals.
I was born in a small village called Bilimora. Bilimora is located about 70 kilometers south of the city of Surat which is 8th largest city in India, in the state of Gujarat. I spent my first 16 years of life in Bilimora. Bilimora is famous for temples, textile mills.
My everyday activities included going to school, playing cricket, watching television, and going to temple at the night time.
I spend my first 16 year of life in Bilimora before moving here in Greenville, SC on August 23, 2002 with my family. I started going to South Side Highschool as a sophomore and was enrolled in ESL program for a year. At South Side, I focused on achieving my goals including learning English language, participating in extracurricular activities, and doing well in all my classes. In my junior year, I had joined Math club, Robotics club and also enrolled in few honor classes. Along with school, I also found a part time job at a local restaurant to help my parents financially. Moving in to a new country and settling there (here) was a huge challenge for me and my family.
I like playing Chess and Cricket. I
always enjoyed reading, writing and doing math. Growing up as a child and until now, (my adulthood) it has been mine (my) and my parents dream for me to become a Doctor or an Engineer.
----- I decided to become a Civil Engineer because I have always been fascinated by looking at the bridges, buildings, and skyscrapers.
------I decided to become a Civil Engineer because I am always fascinated by looking at the bridges, roads, and skyscrapers.
A degree in Civil Engineering enables me to achieve my goals and also gives me an opportunity to make a difference in the community.
I have achieved many different goals in life. Some of my achievements are bigger than the others, which has given me greater satisfaction. The top five achievements that gave me the greatest personal satisfaction includes:
1. Being student of the month in my English class
2. Getting my first job
3. Going to college
4. Learning English language
5. Getting my driver's license
My achievements have helped me to get ahead in life.
I hope to get better at technical communication this term. Five years from now, I want to become a project manager of a construction project, and technical communication is one of the most important skills that a project manager should have. As a project manager, my primary goals are managing people, set budgets, and making decisions of all kinds.
need help with editing and grammar
My name is Amit Vaidya. I am from India. I am in the first semester of my senior year studying Civil Engineering at Clemson University, SC. This sentence makes me a little dizzy with all of the prepositions. You might want to break in into two sentences . . . one telling what you are studying and the other where.I'd like to tell you a little bit about my background, interests, achievements you need a comma here to keep it consistent with the rest of your writing and my goals.
Bilimora is famous for temples,take out the comma and add the word "and" textile mills.
I started going to South Side Highschool high school should be two words) as a sophomore and was enrolled in put either "the" or "an" here ESL program for a year.
Moving in to a new country and was a huge challenge for me and my family.
I like playing Chess and Cricket you don't need to capitalize either chess or cricket. I enjoy reading, writing and doing math.
Growing up as a child and until now, (my adulthood) it has been mine (my) and my parents dream for me to become a Doctor or an Engineer. This sentence is awkward. You might want to reword it to something like: Since I was a child, my parents and I have shared the dream of my becoming a doctor or an engineer.
----- I decided to become a Civil Engineer because I have always been fascinated by bridges, buildings, and skyscrapers.
includes: Should be include
I'll give my ideas to help, along with Eric's ideas.
Here is an idea for this sentence: I spent my first 16 years of life in this city, which is famous for both its temples and its textile mills.
...watching television, and going to temple at night .
While growing up, and even now, it has been my and my parents' dream that I would become a Doctor or an Engineer.
Some of my achievements are bigger than the others, but they all have given me great satisfaction.
Very impressive!! Good luck. :)
first 16 years of my life I spent in
Actually, Quaker_75, "I spent my first 16 years of life" is correct. Your correction introduced an error. In English, the subject comes first in a statement, unless it is preceded by a subordinate clause or the object and subject have been deliberately reversed for a special effect. In this sentence, "I" is the subject, "spent," is the verb, and "first 16 years of my life" is the object.
Subject-Verb-Object is the standard structure.
If I were you, firstly I will think of which one aspect of yourself can mostly attract your Instructor.Then you can emphasize that aspect ,while others you don't need to spend lots of time.
Good luck :-)