Write a coherent and interesting essay.

There are two reasons why this application is so important (one known and one not so known):

Make your first paragraph the best paragraph in your essay.

Personal statements are most important when you are applying to an extremely competitive program, where all the applicants have high test scores and GPA's, and when you are a marginal candidate and need the essay to compensate for low test scores or a low GPA.

We published an updated version of this list,  as well as a companion piece,

Retrospectively, there are two reasons it worked:

While you have hundreds of potential career paths, what is it that drives you to get a college degree from Illinois and more importantly, what do you want to do with it regardless of specialization?

Develop a thesis about yourself early in the essay and argue it throughout.

Don't summarize your entire life. Don't include needless details that take space away from a discussion of your professionalism, maturity, and ability to do intellectual work in your chosen field.

Each piece of information you give about yourself in the essay should somehow support your thesis.


Senior Year, College and Applications

So dive into this admittedly overwhelming list and pick the questions that most inspire you to tell an interesting story, describe a memorable event, observe the details in your world, imagine a possibility, or reflect on who you are and what you believe.

Holidays, Seasons, Weather and Weekends

Think of the essay as not only an answer to a specific question but as an opportunity to introduce yourself, especially if your program doesn't interview applicants.

This blog is just what I needed, honestly.

Hi, I may not go to this school but I was looking into it. I’m a 12th grader living in Memphis scared to death about what I should write in my admission essay. This really helped me out because I didn’t do too much in high school. But this blog opened a new door to how i should write. Thanks so much

Beliefs, Politics and Current Events

The categorized list below touches on everything from sports to travel, education, gender roles, video games, fashion, family, pop culture, social media and more, and, like all our , each links to a related Times article and includes a series of follow-up questions. What’s more, all these questions are still open for comment by any student 13 or older.

What do you think is too risky when submiting and essay.

Don’t be scared to death of the admission essay. I would definitely characterize it as more of an opportunity to shine than a chance to fail. Your accomplishments will speak for themselves in the application. However, the essay gives you a chance to expand on who you are and why Illinois (or any other school) is the place for you. At least that’s how I perceive it. Good luck!

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I’m a senior and i’m in the process of editing my personal essay. I was so nervous to write it but i just had to make myself sit down and do it. thanks for sharing your story. Now i won’t be afraid to do something unique for my essay. I’m applying here and this blog realyl helped!