In asking this question, admissions officers want to see another dimension to your personality. Some schools will ask you to describe one important activity, while others will simply ask how you spend your free time. Regardless of which question you’re answering, try to achieve depth. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that they just want to see well-rounded people and take the approach of listing everything that interests you. While it’s important to show that you lead a balanced life, you should treat this question as you treat all the others—as a chance to make yourself stand out. That means focusing on what you’re truly passionate about, instead of trying to say what you think they want to hear.
Many people choose to write about sports. If you choose to discuss a physical activity, you’re immediately going to face the obstacle of writing about something your readers have seen many times. You will have a difficult time finding something unique to say, but as long as you focus on personal details, you can create a strong answer. On the other hand, you should resist the temptation to cite the clichéd lessons about working hard and being a team player. Moreover, if you try to force connections back to your business skills, your entire essay will seem contrived.
Approach the essay as though you were trying to get someone else excited about your hobby through your own enthusiasm. Of course, it should still be a personal account rather than a sales pitch. So if your hobby is rare book collecting, don’t try to tell the reader about how it demonstrates your organizational skills. Instead, describe your feelings when you make a serendipitous discovery or complete a set that you started many years ago.
Another tactic you can use to keep the essay grounded in personal details is to focus on a particular episode from your past involvement. If you’re writing about your love for chess, focus on a particular match that epitomizes your passion.
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