Resourceful Essay Recycling

Tired from writing endless personal statements? Check out Accepted’s top tips for thoughtfully recycling and adapting your admissions essays.

You’re applying to six different schools and each one requires 2-7 essays/personal statements which equals…a whole lot of writing. How can you draft so many essays and still maintain a fresh and original voice in each?

Did you know that you can probably adapt one essay from a given application to another essay on another application?

You can, and you should – that is, if you follow the guidelines below to ensure that you’re not simply cutting and pasting (no matter how similar the questions appear to be) and that you’re not sloppy about it.

A few helpful tips:

1. Give Each Essay a Unique Theme and Focus on Different Experiences: If you present two essays on the same experience in a single application, you’ll probably end up with duplicate copy, and at least one of the essays will be boring. Within a single application, you want to present varied experiences, and keep repetition as close to zero as possible.

2. Chart Yourself: If you have multiple essays/personal statements to manage, consider making a chart and attributing certain experiences, accomplishments, and skills to certain questions so you don’t end up using the same experience, accomplishment, or skill for more than one question at a given school.

3. Portray Your Multi-Dimensional Self: While composing multiple essays, keep in mind the different layers and textures of your personality. Try to present these layers in your essays so the adcoms receive a rich, multi-dimensional portrait of you as a human being.

4. Double Check Your Name Dropping: Check CAREFULLY (and then check again) to make sure that you don’t forget to change an occurrence of “Columbia” to “Cornell” when you adapt your essay.

This article was originally published on the Accepted Admissions Blog. 


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  • Linda Abraham

    Linda Abraham is the founder and CEO of Accepted, the top-tier admissions consultancy that helps you unlock your competitive advantage. Linda has written or co-authored 13 ebooks on the college admissions process. In 2007, she co-founded the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) and became its first president. For the last 20 years Linda and her highly credentialed, experienced team have helped thousands of applicants get accepted to top colleges and graduate schools worldwide, including but not limited to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Columbia, Kellogg, and MIT. She has been featured in The Wall St. Journal, The New York Times, US News, The Sunday Times of London, Businessweek, Poets & Quants and MBA Podcaster.

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