The Best College Essays About Identity

Identity is a word that you’ll see often during the college process and it can be daunting to anyone, not just someone writing a college essay.

When students hear the word identity they tend to think that it’s their job to prove that their lineage makes them unique. And this is where most get stuck. But this is not a family tree assignment. Before you start writing about your religious beliefs, ethnicity, or family background – ask yourself “what does this really have to do with me?”

Instead of going down that often triggering hole, start thinking about your identity in a micro sense. The best way to do that is to think small and find something that is genuinely important to you. Remember that you only have 650 words, so this essay shouldn’t aim to tackle something huge.

Make a list of 30 things that make you who you are

Think about experiences and life events that have impacted you, what keeps you up at night, what gets you out of bed in the morning, your rituals, what meals you make, things you do with your family, things you do with your friends, things that bother you, communities that you’re a part of, strange YouTube holes you go down (to name a few)

Cut the list in half

Cross off the things that you didn’t affect you for more than a day. If there was a period of your life that you were hell bent on shutting down Sea World...until a new season of Game of Thrones came out, be done with that.

Then, look at your shortened list and compare it with the rest of your application. Find something that you have not been able to represent anywhere else, and focus on that.

It’s important to keep in mind that an essay about identity doesn’t have to be an emotionally taxing sob story. We’re firm believers in the fact that whoever is reading your essay is looking, perhaps begging, for some levity in their day. Keep in personal, genuine, and light.


Want some help brainstorming ideas? We’re pros at that.