Some colleges require an essay or personal statement as part of their application. The essay gives you a chance to show admissions officers what sets you apart from other applicants, and to give them insight into what kind of person you are beyond your grades and test scores. Writing a strong essay can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection, so you’ll want to devote considerable thought, time, and effort to all your college essays. Counselors usually recommend submitting an essay even if it’s optional.
Each application will have an essay question or prompt that they want you to discuss in a specified number of words (usually 300–700). They usually offer several prompts to choose from, but most of them center on your personal experience, background, and goals. Colleges want you to use this space to discuss things like formative experiences you’ve had, what adversity has taught you, how you’ve acted on your principles, and what you find meaningful. Use your essays to show them how well-rounded, motivated, and unique you are.
Start working on your essays early, and seek feedback from a counselor or trusted teacher to help you revise and edit your work. Make sure you answer the specific essay prompt for each application and don’t just rehash facts about yourself—discuss them meaningfully. If writing isn’t your strong suit, seek help and keep working on it. Your counselor can probably recommend some essay writing resources.
Here are some past essay prompts from North Carolina colleges.
Sample Essay Prompts:
How will the experiences of higher education assist you in becoming a leader in the 21st century?
– Brevard College
Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, or risk that you have taken or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
– Davidson College
Discuss an issue you once thought you knew with certainty that you have since re-evaluated. What prompted you to change your opinion?
– Elon University
“Science and art belong to the whole world, and before them vanish the barriers of nationality.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Provide a specific example of either instance.
– Wake Forest University
Tell us about a friendship you have forged with someone from a different race, class, religion, or background. How did this friendship develop? What has it taught you?
– UNC Chapel Hill
Please provide us with a typewritten essay (500 words) that expresses who you are and why you want to attend Bennett College for Women.
– Bennett College
What is it about Warren Wilson that makes you think it might be a particularly good match for you?
– Warren Wilson College
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