The Best College Essays about Art

The college application is holistic. What that means is each part of it should help to complete a picture of the applicant for the admissions committee. As such, no two parts should be the same. A lot of kids end up writing their essays about something that’s already represented elsewhere in the application, like an extra-curricular. While we typically advise against doing that, there is an exception.

If you are an artist, your essay can be about your artistic medium.

Tell a Story

When we talk about art, we mean to include all activities across the artistic spectrum. Film, dance, and any other visual medium are fair game, among numerous others. If you’re a chocolatier, an opera singer, a musician of any kind, that all counts, too. The trick, however, is to tell a story that conveys some part of your personality to the reader. You can’t just pontificate. The trait that you probably want to shine through most of all is your creativity. But creativity alone does not a successful artist make. Prima ballerinas are usually disciplined. Violinists are usually meticulous. Potters are usually patient. And if you’ve found success thus far in your artistic medium, the odds are, you’ve got something going for you, and you need to let that something shine in your essay. So, begin by identifying a few character traits you plan to convey and then, pick a story with a beginning, middle, and end that conveys them.

The Medium Is Not the Message

One quick thing: your story shouldn’t be explicitly about your art. We know, that pretty much contradicts what we said at the beginning of this blog post. But, ever heard of the expression, “show, don’t tell?” That’s the objective here.  The best business people don’t tell you what their revenue was. They just demonstrate a portfolio of goods or services that are really awesome and let you connect the dots.  

Similarly, a kid who makes movies isn’t going to describe her movie-making abilities in her essay. She’s not just going to be like “I’m great at making films. I love it. My last film was about cats.” No. She might do as one of our kids, a budding young filmmaker, did recently, and write her essay in the form of a film script, with quick-cuts and dialogue between characters. In essence, you should write about your art form tangentially. Another one of our students is a ballerina. As you might have guessed, she did not write about ballet as the theme of her piece, either. Instead, the way her phrasing worked was as though she outlined the steps and movements of a dance performance. It was a framing device that had rhythm.

So, the general rule of thumb is that if you’re going to write about singing, you want the essay to sing. And if you can’t do that, choose another topic.


Need some help crafting a great arts essay? Reach out to us here. We are experts at helping students develop supplements that capture the attention of the admissions committee.