Today we’re continuing with our mission to simplify the process of applying to college through QuestBridge, and so we’re asking this: What’s the difference between the Common Application’s personal statement and the QuestBridge application’s biographical essay or Essay #2?
Answer: It depends on the prompt you chose for the Common Application, but there is not a huge difference. The Biographical Essay is a personal statement about your life. The Essay #2 gives you a chance to address a plethora of topics from the lens in which you view the subject. Think of it this way: the QuestBridge application gives you many opportunities to give the admissions officer information to advocate for you in committee... use it!
A common mistake is trying to tackle your entire life. Don’t do that! Where writing is concerned, less is more: you can’t jam that much information into 800 words. Think instead about pivotal moments in which you’ve learned life lessons. What were those moments? And how did you respond to those lessons? Because you’re applying through QuestBridge, an admissions officer might expect that you’ve faced obstacles on your path to college. So, what have you learned from your surroundings that helps you stay optimistic about the future and push forward with your goals?
The other common mistake in the Biographical Essay and Essay #2 is writing about the same topic or moment. I know the prompts on the QuestBridge application can feel similar, but I'm sure there is more than one aspect of you, or your life, that you want the admissions officer to know. It feels like a wasted opportunity to an admissions officer if we read similar essays back to back.
Consider approaching your entire application this way: "I would like the admissions committee to know about these aspects about my personality, my life, my surroundings, my goals, and/or my views" (...and it doesn't need to be all of those). Your ultimate goal is to convey who you are to someone who doesn’t know you at all, so I suggest working backward. Start by identifying the most important aspects to understanding who you are, and frame all of the writing in your application around conveying those elements of yourself.
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*Photo Courtesy of Kid President