Topics and Tips for the Optional Essay
This essay is a window into who you are, your passions and your potential for being a good match. It is a way of getting to know you without actually meeting you. The essay is how you stand out — or how you fall flat.
It’s not easy to write about yourself – this is likely something you haven’t done in the past. Don’t overthink it. Just write what you feel most comfortable with.
Here are the essay topics from which to write a 250-650 word essay:
Some students have a background, identity, interest or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you faced a challenge, setback or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
Discuss an accomplishment, event or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
Describe a topic, idea or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt or one of your own design.
Do’s and Don’ts
Spend a few hours brainstorming about what you would like to include in your essay.
Try to make your essay as unique and memorable as possible. Think about yourself in relation to the rest of the world, understand how you relate and, particularly, consider what’s special about you.
Write your essay in a document editor to revise and edit. Once you have the final draft, you can cut and paste it into your online application.
Have someone else proofread your essay to avoid making common grammatical or spelling errors. Have at least three individuals other than family members review your essay and make suggestions for improvement.
Last but not least, take a few minutes to read your essay out loud.
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