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Sample College Essays on Growth & Development

Sample Essays Referenced in this Section:

These questions try to find out about you by asking how you have grown and developed over the past few years. Some ask this directly. Others are more creative, like this question, which asks you to attach a picture of yourself and describe how you have grown.

Making you compare yourself at two different stages of your life is a clever way to get you to open up about who you really are. Although you do want to show that you have matured, remember that “the child is father of the man.” Do not overplay what a terrible person you once were just to make the point of what a great person you are now. No one changes that much in five years. Besides, the before portrait might be the one that sticks in the admissions officer’s head.

This Princeton applicant did a poor job by overemphasizing how insecure and fearful a person he was but then mentions only briefly in the final paragraph that he is now confident and successful. Learn from this example and show, do not tell, how you have changed and who you are now.

Lastly, describe real events and scenarios to prove that your growth resulted from the decisions you made and actions you took. Significant events and people can serve as inspiration. Real change, though, always results from your own work, effort, and initiative.

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