When it comes down to it, what each college and scholarship essay question is essentially asking is, “How are you unique?”

Why is this so good to know? Because you can check your essay content to see if you’re giving colleges just what they are looking for. Doing so frees you to confidently share your unique perspective!

The next step then is to figure out, how do you answer this question?

One way is to put the college application questions aside and answer a few other questions that are typically easier to handle—questions that help your brain focus on your own perspective while taking you out of the pressure to respond to school prompts.

By doing this, you can also find a doorway into your unique experiences, qualities, and gifts that allow you to differentiate from your friends and community. Here are some options to help you:

Option 1:
• What do you love to do? Why?
• Has that interest or something similar stayed with you throughout much of your childhood?
• Can you see yourself keeping this interest in the future?
• Would you like it to fit into your career?
• What could that look like?

For more insights: What do each of these answers show about you?

Option 2:
• If the committee could know one thing about you, what would it be?
• Why is this important to know?

• How does this play into your future?
• How you would change your social group, school, city, and world if you could?
• What causes or issues would you be compelled to stand up for?

For more insights: What do each of these answers show about you?

Option 3:
• What are some things people love or appreciate about you?
• What are some qualities you appreciate about yourself?
• How do you use these in your life?
• How can you see these qualities affecting your future?

For more insights: What do each of these answers show about you?

• If talking seems to help you think more clearly, you can use your phone to record the answers.
• Writing notes, knowing you don’t have to make real sentences yet, frees your mind up from having to get things right.
• Let your mind go from idea to idea without having your thoughts need to make sense initially.

Next, apply what you articulate to your essay question and go with it. Use these Pro Tips above to capture your thoughts. Allow yourself to answer as much as you can and then step away from it for a while. After a few hours or days, pick it up again. See if you’re answering the key question.

Lastly, find someone to help you edit your essays. Also, if having some help deciding on your content or receiving content editing sounds like something you’d like to have, a coach or a mentor can help you with this process. Usually in a single session, my clients can get a hold of what they need in order to write at least one strong college essay and influence their other essays!

I’ve struggled with this question of my uniqueness myself. For me, talking some of it out with someone outside my immediate circle of close friends and family helped me identify what was unique and let it settle in—one of these people in my life was a coach. Part of the reason she helped is that she kept asking good questions that led me to realizations about myself—questions that my friends and family didn’t know to ask. Then afterward, writing those reflections in an essay, and talking about them in interviews, has been much easier.

The key of answering the question, how are you unique?, can help you articulate your story well—and ultimately even help you get into the college you want to attend!