How to Write a Compelling UG Essay 2024?

How to Write a Compelling UG Essay 2024?

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Rahul Singha
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Sep 1, 2022 16:08 IST

Essays let you speak directly to an admissions committee (Ad Com) and help them learn about you as a person. While writing your essays, you should illustrate that you are a good match for the university, by reviewing your thoughts, intellectualism, worldview, attitudes, experiences, aspirations, and personal qualities. Through essays, you can bring your application to life.

Compelling UG Essay

Common Essay Topics

Here are some essay topics that undergraduate applicants may come across during their application process:

  • Tell us about yourself: Talk about yourself, but do not tell everything. Keep it short and do not write about your whole life story. Mention some vital things about any life incident, which may have helped shape your personality. Include things that you want to communicate to the Ad Com.
  • Academic interest: If you have an interest in a particular area, then mention that. Mention why you are interested in that particular area/ topic/ subject. Go beyond ‘I am good in that’ and do some research; mention a concrete reason why you like that subject.
  • Activity essay: It is an opportunity to tell the Ad Com about you, what you like, and what you have done beyond the classroom. It can be any activity, sports, music or anything you are passionate about. Remember, there is a difference between writing about the activity and writing about what you have done in that particular activity. You can talk about your accomplishments. It can be related to your job or work you are doing or maybe you led a team. Mention what makes you different from others.
  • Why this school: It is considered as one of the most important questions while applying to universities abroad. You need to do thorough research before writing this essay. Always visit the university’s website for the program you are applying to, before writing this essay. Mention some specific features of the university. Talk about why this university is best for you; always check which course you are applying to, and why it is best to pursue this course from this university. Specify your goals, and mention how studying at that particular university will help you in achieving those goals. Apart from this, you can talk about any communities, which you can join there, what you are going to study there, or maybe any other thing, which can help you in enhancing your profile. Maybe the university is offering some particular course, training or internship program that can help you in networking as well.
  • Important current issue: Sometimes, colleges are looking for students who are well informed about current issues. It is always best to stay aware of important issues, related to politics, music, or your specific field. You need to do thorough research before writing this essay and showcase that you can easily talk about the essay you are writing on. If you are writing about any topic which is highlighted at a global level, then you must be aware of each and everything related to that topic.
  • Amaze us with your cleverness and creativity: If you are a creative person, then this is your chance to show it and prove that you have it in you. Give details about the skills you possess or the activity in which you excel. If you are not so creative then you need not worry; colleges are not looking for one type of student. You need not be a creative person; however, you have to prove how you are different from others. Think about your personality and draft this essay accordingly.
  • Important risk or event: Students generally have a perception that it has to be a life-changing event. As you are just 17 or 18 years old, so, maybe you haven’t experienced something very significant. It can be something which you do on a daily basis but you like to do it or you do it differently or it is special for you. Maybe it is something that has challenged you in some way or pushed you and you have given complete efforts from your end.

Watch: How to Write a Compelling UG Application Essay

How to Select a Topic?

Before selecting a topic, you need to introspect about yourself. You also need to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, which will help you in writing a convincing UG Essay.

  • Think about what in your personality or accomplishments illustrates your strongest points. What makes you who you are?
  • Identify three main themes in your life? Explain what defines you? You can ask your parents or friends who know you better to describe you as a person, so, you can get an idea of how to write about it.
  • Decide which theme(s) are most important to you that you are keen to write about? What do you want the reader to know about you?

Guidelines for Writing a Compelling Essay

There is no select list of things that you need to focus on while writing an essay. However, there are a few points you need to keep in mind while writing a UG essay/ Personal Statement:

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  • If you are talking about an important event, then don’t just give details related to that event, but also mention your reaction to it or your learning from it.
  • What do you want the Ad Com to know about you and your personality?
  • Remember, your aim is to ‘show’ them who you are, and not ‘tell’ them who you are.
  • Focus not just on how you are in a classroom but how you are outside the classroom too. You need not focus only on your academics, you can also focus on any of your strong areas, whether it is music, sports, or any other activity.
  • Before writing the essay think about who you are, what you have accomplished, and eventually where you are heading.
  • You need not explain your whole life story. Also, you don’t need to explain all your extracurricular or academic accomplishments.
  • Remember, you don’t know who is going to check the essay, so, try to avoid controversial topics as it can give a negative outlook to your application.
  • Avoid topics like the bathroom, drugs, bitter family situations, romantic relationships and the like.
  • Don’t try to be someone you are not! Be authentic to who you are.
  • If you are a funny person, write a humorous essay, but if you are not, then don’t go for something you are not. Also, try to avoid writing an outrageous or over-the-top essay.
  • You need not use fancy or flowery language; be careful while selecting your words; this is not an essay for your English class.
  • Be careful with the flow and structure; it must be simple yet appealing with no grammatical mistakes.
  • Follow application directions/guidelines completely whether it is with regard to the question/prompt, the formatting, word count, or spacing.
  • Don’t argue with the question while answering it and always ensure that you answer the question/prompt entirely and convincingly.
  • Remember that the reader, who is the admission representative, could be anywhere between 25-65 years of age, and from a variety of backgrounds.
  • As the author of the essay, it is all about you. Though it is fine to do a bit of research, you need not follow whatever you find on the internet. Be authentic and original!

Always conduct thorough research, prior to applying to any university. Check the specific features of the university and make sure that the course offered by the university will help you in achieving your goals. So, now that you have all the necessary information to write the essay, just go for it! All the best!

FAQs for UG Essays

Q. Can the essays compensate for something missing in your application? (For example – a low academic score)

A. You can use this space to write the essay, do not miss this opportunity and give details asked in the essay. You can use the details which you want the Ad Com should know about you in the space provided under the section ‘Additional Information’.

Q. Do essays matter more than extracurricular?

A. Universities are not necessarily looking for any particular skills in the candidates. The Ad Com will look at the complete profile and not focus only on one aspect of a student’s personality.

Q. What if a student is more inclined towards academics and doesn’t have much to show in areas of extracurricular or other activities?

A. The Ad Com considers the background from where he/she is coming from, what all opportunities he/she got, and how he/she made use of those opportunities. The admissions committee wants to know you as a person, so, even if the student does not have many activities to showcase in the essay, he/she can talk about themselves, their likes/dislikes, or anything which highlights their personality.

Q. Can the common app essay and supplement essay be similar?

A. The topic for both the Common App Essay and the Supplemental essay can be similar at times. In such a scenario, do not make the mistake of using the same content in both essays. Write different content/instances for different essays.

Q. Do I need to add the extracurricular activities in the resume or should I mention these in my essay?

A. Essays are meant to respond to specific questions e.g. a common app essay can be about a failure you experienced in your life. In that case, you need to focus on the topic and give the answer accordingly. However, if there is scope for giving your achievements, then you can write about your accomplishments in the various activities you achieved.

Q. Does a student need to make a tailor-made essay for any university?

A. If you are applying through Common App, then create a generic essay, and try to avoid writing about any particular school. However, some universities have supplemental essays with specific questions.

Q. If a candidate has a strong SAT score but is not good in terms of writing skills, what can one do in that case?

A. Even if a candidate does not have strong writing skills, he/should be able to communicate his thoughts effectively, otherwise, he/she will not be able to draft a compelling essay.

Q. Most of the members in the Ad Com are between the age group of 25-65 years. So we need to keep that in mind while writing the essay?

A. Focusing on your own strengths and accomplishments will be more effective for writing a compelling essay. Always focus on your skills rather than on pleasing anyone, so be authentic while giving the information. The content you provide should be accurate and interesting.

Q. I do beat-boxing. Can I mention that in an essay?

A. It is all about the candidate who is applying. It can be beat-boxing or any other activity, if you think you are good at something, you can write about it, but always adhere to the guidelines or the essay prompt.

Q. What will happen if the content of the essay is found to be plagiarized?

A. You are the author of the essay, so, the information has to be about you. Plagiarizing content can have negative consequences on your application, it is always best to avoid it. A plagiarised application can even result in a rejection from the university.
About the Author
Written by
Rahul Singha
Study Abroad Expert

Rahul Singha is a seasoned editor with Shiksha Study Abroad, specializing in overseas education. With over 8 years of domain experience, he has made a significant impact in contributing to the study abroad industry ... Read Full Bio

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