The “What Makes You Unique?” Essay

August 16, 2023
By AdmissionSight
Checking for typographical errors in an essay.

The “What Makes You Unique?” Essay

The college application process is a journey of self-discovery, reflection, and articulation of one’s identity. The “what-makes-you-unique” essay is a pivotal opportunity to express who you are and what you bring to the table.

This essay is more than just a written document; it’s a window into your soul, a chance to convey your individuality, and a platform to showcase what makes you unique. It’s not about boasting or trying to impress with grand achievements; it’s about honesty, introspection, and the courage to share your true self with the admissions committee.

Why Is the “What-Makes-You-Unique” Essay Important?

In a sea of qualified applicants, the “what-makes-you-unique” essay serves as a distinguishing factor that sets you apart. Colleges and universities are not merely looking for high grades or impressive extracurriculars; they are seeking individuals who will contribute something special to their community.

What makes you unique is not just a catchphrase; it’s a question that invites you to delve into your passions, values, and the very essence of who you are. This essay is your chance to demonstrate how your unique perspective, experiences, and aspirations align with the institution’s mission and how you will enrich the campus culture.

Understanding the purpose of uniqueness in college applications

The concept of uniqueness in college applications goes beyond mere differentiation. It’s about showcasing your authentic self and how your individuality will contribute to the diverse tapestry of the college community.

Understanding what makes you unique requires a deep exploration of your interests, strengths, and the values that guide your life. It’s not about trying to fit a mold or conforming to what you think the college wants to see.

Instead, it’s about embracing your true self and articulating how your uniqueness will add value to the educational environment. This understanding guides the writing process, ensuring that your essay resonates with sincerity and relevance.

How do you write an essay about yourself?

How does one go about writing an essay about themselves? We get it. It’d be that boasting about oneself isn’t your thing, or that you just prefer to keep your personal anecdotes to yourself. Both of these are perfectly valid reasons.

a female student studying with her laptop and looking at the camera

But if you are honest about who you are and share your experiences, you may demonstrate to prospective colleges and universities, and even scholarship sponsors, who you are and why you ought to be given the coveted spot. When you are writing an essay about yourself, keep in mind the following points:

Make a List of Questions

After you have finished reading the scholarship essay prompt, take a moment to collect your thoughts and create a list of several questions that you are able to answer and that are connected to the main question posed in the essay prompt.

Let’s imagine the major question that prompts you to write your essay asks, “What were the obstacles or problems that you had to work hard to overcome?” The more specific inquiries could be anything along the lines of:

What is your background?

What makes you unique in terms of overcoming challenges? What’s your greatest accomplishment? How did you get there? How have previous challenges influenced your goals?

Consider each of these questions a little provocation on its own. They assist you in describing your tale and answer the main essay prompt with more details than you would be able to provide if you simply responded to the prompt without having a plan in place.

Conceptualize and Outline

After you’ve thought about the more specific questions, it’s time to come up with some replies. Take some time to respond to each of the mini-prompts, and for your convenience, you can either open a document on your computer or get out a pen and paper.

Arrange your answers in the following order:

  1. Intro to the main essay prompt.
  2. Answer about 3 mini-prompt questions.
  3. To conclude, rewrite your response to the primary essay prompt, including a synopsis of how you addressed the supplementary essay questions.

You will be able to keep on topic and directly respond to the prompt with the assistance of this organization. Outlining can also help you be strategic about word count restriction because you can compartmentalize words within the mini-prompt questions/subtopics.

Be Vulnerable

In your essay, don’t be hesitant to allow your personality, including your skills, struggles, and personal tales, to show through.

Scholarship and admissions committees absolutely adore it when applicants demonstrate an awareness of either their own personal shortcomings or the ways in which they have developed as a result of the experiences they have had.

The best stories can be told through writing that is sincere.

Utilize Personal Examples

The essay is going to be all about you, you need to make sure that your response is as detailed as it can be!

Avoid making broad statements like “I’m really good at music” or “I’m really good at everything.” Rather than that, you should focus on making statements that are more individualized (for example, “My fourth-grade teacher Ms. Matay really pushed me to pursue my passion in the clarinet”). Your own specific examples are what will set your scholarship application essay apart from the thousands of others that have been submitted.

Write in the First Person

Since you are the one narrating what makes you unique, you should write it from your point of view. You can tell your story in narrative form. You are able to submit a summary of what you discovered from your various encounters.

No matter how you decide to respond to the question, we advise you to write in an active voice and make frequent use of the pronouns “I” and “me” throughout your essay.

Try to discuss more but stick to the topic

The majority of students are concerned about bragging too much about themselves in their essays, but we say go for it! This is your moment to shine, so make the most of it by highlighting your previous successes and qualities.

Young woman using a laptop while sitting.

Check over your essay to make certain that you are maintaining an informative tone and that you are staying on the topic at all times. (Brag about yourself when you’re answering the essay prompt; don’t just list random things about yourself that have nothing to do with each other but are remarkable!)

Show Personality

Given that this essay is all about you, it is important to convey your own message of what makes you unique. You are allowed to make light of the situation if you are the class clown. If you’re the type of person who wears their feelings on their sleeve, don’t be scared to show how you feel.

Making an effort to convey who you are as a person will have a significant impact on the panel deciding whether or not to grant you admission or a scholarship.

Know Your Audience

Always do your homework on the organization offering the scholarship before applying for it. This may not necessarily mean that you need to write an essay worthy of a Pulitzer nomination, but you need to be conscious of including vital information about the service or college in your essay.

Furthermore, highlight what sets them apart from other providers or colleges and what motivated you to choose them. For instance, many different scholarships are supported by private businesses in the form of product sales. You should probably make some sort of mention of those items in your essay.

Edit constantly

Checking your work again should be the final step in responding to the prompt for your essay. Even one misspelling can be distracting and make the people providing the scholarships scratch their heads while they are reading the essay. We can’t stress this enough, check for typos.
In addition to checking for typos and grammatical mistakes, when you proofread, you should also examine whether the structure of the sentence or paragraph makes sense.

Are you skipping the appropriate paragraphs at the appropriate times? Are you able to effectively signpost your primary ideas by utilizing topic sentences? Does the essay read smoothly?

Also, take into consideration the following “larger” structural problems. You should also consider getting the opinion of a close friend, a member of your family, a teacher, or a guidance counselor regarding your essay. They might notice something that you missed the first time, and if they do, it could be something that truly helps your writing.

What are some ideas I could use in my personal essay?

Few people are aware of the ways in which they are unique. Because of nature, each individual human might have their own set of characteristics that are distinctive. If you are the kind of student who keeps to themselves in the classroom, always turns in their work on time, and leads a seemingly typical life, it may be difficult to appreciate how exceptional you truly are.

Young woman using a laptop in a bench.

Having said that, everybody is odd in their own way. It is important to make sure that you ask yourself questions in order to produce the greatest possible essay. The questions will take you to the answers, which will reveal your true self. The following are some points to think about.

  • Where and with whom do you live?
  • What was your childhood like and how does it affect your life today?
  • What makes you unique as a family member?
  • What languages can you speak?
  • How committed are you to your religion?

If you are having trouble identifying the possible distinguishing characteristics that you possess, you can try the following:

  • Hear your friends out
  • Ask your classmates to describe you
  • Note down everything you know about yourself

What Are the Best Practices for Revising?

Revising your “what-makes-you-unique” essay is not merely a process of correcting errors; it’s an opportunity to refine your message, enhance your voice, and ensure that your unique qualities shine through. The best practices for revising involve a combination of self-review and external feedback, focusing on both content and form.

Young woman using a laptop in a library.

Seeking feedback from teachers, peers, or mentors

One of the most effective ways to elevate your essay is to seek feedback from those who know you well and those who have expertise in writing. Teachers, peers, or mentors can provide valuable perspectives on what makes you unique and how you’ve articulated it in your essay.

They can identify areas where your uniqueness may not be fully expressed or where additional examples or explanations might enhance your narrative. This collaborative process not only enriches your essay but also fosters a deeper understanding of yourself, as you see your unique qualities reflected through the eyes of others.

Reviewing for clarity, coherence, and grammar

An essay that explores what makes you unique must be clear, coherent, and grammatically correct to effectively convey your message. Clarity ensures that your unique traits and experiences are understood, coherence ensures that your ideas flow logically, and proper grammar ensures that your writing is professional and polished.

Reviewing your essay with these principles in mind requires careful reading and a critical eye. It may involve reorganizing paragraphs, rewriting sentences, or fine-tuning word choices. This meticulous attention to detail ensures that your unique story is told in a way that engages the reader and leaves a lasting impression.

Avoiding clichés and overused phrases

To truly capture what makes you unique, your writing must be fresh and original. Clichés and overused phrases can dilute your message and make your essay feel generic. Avoiding these pitfalls requires a conscious effort to express your unique qualities in a way that is genuine and distinctive.

Instead of relying on familiar expressions, strive to find your own voice and articulate your uniqueness in a way that is true to you. This doesn’t mean you have to be overly creative or unconventional; it simply means being authentic and thoughtful in your word choices.

By avoiding clichés and overused phrases, you ensure that your essay stands out, not because it’s flashy or extravagant, but because it’s a true reflection of what makes you unique.

How Can You Make Your Essay Stand Out Even More?

In the competitive landscape of college admissions, making your essay stand out is paramount. While articulating what makes you unique is the core of the essay, there are additional strategies to elevate your writing and make it truly memorable.

These strategies go beyond mere content and delve into the art of storytelling, the connection to broader themes, and the alignment with the college’s values.

Adding creative elements or a unique writing style

Creativity is not just about artistic expression; it’s about finding novel ways to convey what makes you unique. Adding creative elements or a unique writing style to your essay can transform it from a mere statement of facts into a compelling narrative.

Whether it’s through metaphor, imagery, or a distinctive voice, these creative touches add depth and texture to your story. They allow you to express your uniqueness in a way that goes beyond mere description, capturing the essence of who you are in a manner that is both engaging and insightful.

This creative approach not only enhances your essay but also reflects your ability to think outside the box and approach challenges with innovation and originality.

Connecting your uniqueness to broader societal or community themes

Your uniqueness is not an isolated trait; it’s part of a larger context that includes your community, society, and the world at large. Connecting what makes you unique to broader societal or community themes adds a layer of relevance and significance to your essay.

It shows that you are not just self-aware but also socially aware, recognizing how your unique qualities relate to larger issues or values. Whether it’s a commitment to social justice, a passion for environmental stewardship, or a dedication to community service, linking your uniqueness to these broader themes creates a powerful narrative that resonates with both personal authenticity and social responsibility.

Demonstrating how your uniqueness will contribute to the college community

Colleges and universities are not just looking for students with high grades or impressive resumes; they are looking for individuals who will enrich their community.

Students answering a test on a classroom.

Demonstrating how what makes you unique will contribute to the college community is a critical aspect of your essay. It’s about showing how your unique perspective, talents, or values align with the institution’s mission and how you will actively contribute to campus life.

Whether it’s through leadership, collaboration, or innovation, articulating how your uniqueness will positively impact the college community creates a compelling argument for your admission.

Inspiring confidence in the application process

The college application process can be daunting, filled with uncertainty and anxiety. The “what-makes-you-unique” essay, however, is an opportunity to take control, express yourself with clarity and confidence, and make a compelling case for your admission.

By focusing on what makes you unique, you shift the narrative from trying to meet external expectations to expressing your authentic self. This approach not only enhances your essay but also inspires confidence in the application process. It shows that you are not just seeking to fit in but to stand out, contribute something special to the college community, and pursue a path that reflects your unique identity and potential.

This confidence is not just about believing in your ability to write a great essay; it’s about believing in your ability to make a meaningful impact, pursue your dreams, and create a future that is uniquely yours.


The journey of crafting a “what-makes-you-unique” essay is more than a mere exercise in writing; it’s a profound exploration of self, an opportunity to articulate your identity, values, and vision. Through this process, you not only answer the question of what makes you unique but also create a narrative that resonates with authenticity, insight, and purpose.

This essay is not just a gateway to college admission; it’s a reflection of who you are and what you aspire to be. By embracing the strategies and principles outlined in this article, you can craft an essay that stands out, not merely for its eloquence or creativity but for its truth, relevance, and impact.

Get Started With Your Scholarship Essay

It’s time to get started on that stellar application essay you’ll send off to dozens of universities. In order to help you achieve your goal of enrolling in the prominent university of your choice and subsequently pursuing your dream profession, AdmissionSight is here to help.

AdmissionSight has more than a decade of expertise assisting students just like you gain entry to their dream schools. Don’t hesitate to contact us right away so that we can set up your free initial consultation.

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