For a flawless college essay, use your flaws- wisely.
(We’re not actually sure anything is “flawless”– but humor us.)
“But don’t I want colleges to think I have No Flaws?” you might object cautiously.
No! It’s a sign of maturity to know and name your flaws, and then treat them as opportunity for growth (crucial!).
That, in short, is learning! And colleges want applicants committed to learning. So here’s how to use what you’ve got for what you want to get. (Admitted. Admit it.).
What should you do with your flaws to tell a good story and also showcase your strengths?
Well first, notice your flaws. Honestly.
Start by watching your mind for 1-5 minutes. Set a timer, close your eyes and observe “your” thoughts go by like rush-hour traffic.
Examine their content objectively: errors in judgment about yourself or others; weak places in your character that could use reinforcement. Insecurities and doubts.
Find the right story: Ask yourself what anecdotes or events from your life–don’t overlook the small stuff!– could inform your reader how you’re working with and through these flaws.
If you’re timid, did you finally get up the nerve to ask your boss for a raise? If you’re easily overwhelmed, did you regain balance through service, by sorting cans for a food bank? And now what?
Another approach: look at the flawed world and make analogies
Many of us have an easier time looking outside than inside ourselves. If that describes you, I suggest you start by using the above technique anyway (watch your mind).
Then try commenting on the flaws in the world as a mirror to look inward for similar themes.
Plus, this approach works your observation and “critical eye” muscles.
And gives you material to be snarky about.
Read this example from my life; then try your own.
I start with the context: There is a sub-par Indian restaurant near my house; they do so much of their business take-out that they will basically pay you to eat the place. To give their venue an air of importance, they accordion fold their cotton-candy pink napkins and wedge them in thick-stemmed wine glasses. Salt is the first ingredient in whatever you order, and the last. Usually, the tables are all unoccupied when you go to pick up your food. If you’re lazy or tired or far away enough to have it delivered, you will often be handed a bag within a bag within a bag by a chirpy bright-eyed 8 year-old. Mind you, she might be 12, but she looks 8.
I go on to find the obvious flaw: When I go to pick up our food late on a cold, snowy night, I notice the sign that must have always been there, in the window, in block letters, on an 8’11” sheet of paper: “WE SELL WINE AND BERR.” That’s right: B-E-R-R. Coupled with the word “wine” (and a little bottle icon), we know what they mean, but…?
If they sell beer, can’t they look at the bottle for correct spelling? Or at the sprawling deli next door, whose awning advertises, “Beer….Cigarettes…Fresh Fruits….Vegetables” (as if the redeeming qualities of the latter could balance out the best-selling sins of the former).
I speculate: Perhaps their youngest employee wrote their sign– when you’re 8, you shouldn’t know how to spell BEER. Perhaps fixing it is irrelevant, because everyone knows what it should say– like leaving off the terminal “d” in McDonald’s. Surely the misspelling doesn’t change the appeal of the beer, if that’s what you want to order. But still.
I relate: I look inside for a flaw or mistake I have similarly left uncorrected or have not yet had the opportunity to improve– little, nagging errors of judgment or attention. I will surely find something I can follow through to its lesson.
I stretch my comparison: Maybe the flaw is the way I don’t answer the phone when so-and-so calls because I don’t want to talk and so I text a fib, “In mtg, call you back?”; so-and-so therefore thinks I have an unrelenting work schedule, but it’s more like I don’t have the courage to correct this assumption.
Or maybe the flaw is the way I write countless essays and leave them to age in my computer’s hard drive, not making sufficient effort to get them into the world. As if they will find their way to publication by themselves, like baby sea turtles who have a natural compass for the sea.
Nah, they won’t. It is my version of not correcting the double-R in B E R R.
I just go for it: The fit doesn’t have to be absolute– you’re just trying to look at yourself a little harder than you might normally. Add commentary on what you find, and think about how it could be– or is– transformed into a gift.
Observing has benefits, period
This strategy– of using observation in world as reflection for observation within– is also a great way to go about your day. You’ll pay more attention to everything.
Your college essay will be better for it, and you just might find you have some things to say about the way the world is.
So use your flaws to write a flawless essay you really mean. Sign up with us to do just that.
Eat your Fruits & Veggies with Flaws– and let your Essay be flawless
Remember– flawed fruit and veggies are the ones least heavily sprayed with pesticides– they taste the best and they are kindest to the planet. So don’t think the polished product is the preferred one.