Many college applications, including The Common Application , ask an essay question about “the most influential person in your life” and why, or how, that person influenced you. A key tip to answering this essay is to remember that it is not necessarily about whom you choose to write about but how you write the essay and connect it back to yourself.
One of the most common responses that students give when writing on this essay topic was that it was either a parent or a grandparent who influenced them. For some, it may be a teacher, a coach, a friend, a child, a counselor, or numerous other options. When writing this essay think about spending less time writing about whom that person was, but actually how they influenced you. Remember that the admission counselor reading your application wants to learn about you, not necessarily the person who influenced you.
For example, if you choose to write about your grandfather consider the following. Many students write that their grandfather influenced their life because they were kind, generous, overcame adversity, taught them new things, were a hard worker, etc. Some students spend the entire essay spouting all of the wonderful attributes about their grandfather but forget that the essay is supposed to show the admission committee who they (the student) are. You don’t want the admission committee to want to admit your grandfather at the end of reading your essay- you want them to want to admit you!
This is not to say don’t write about your grandfather (or grandmother, mother, father, or person of your choice). It is simply to say, think about writing the essay in a way that connects the individual you choose to write about back to you. What makes you a person that the college would want to have as part of their community? Can you elaborate on specific examples from your relationship with that influential person that impacted your way of thinking? Or, can you can discuss certain actions you took as a result of lessons learned from that individual? Perhaps, you can even consider relating what you learned from that influential person to something that you hope to do, or accomplish, in college or in the future.
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Filed Under: Application TipsTagged With: College admission, college advice, college essay, Common Application, influential person
Violent staccatos of the jackhammer coupled with rhythmic pounding of nails and muffled obscenities comprise the symphony of the construction site that has been my father’s accompaniment more than half of his life. While initially a position as a laborer seemed appealing to a junior in high school, strenuous physical labor loses its glamour to a man eclipsing fifty with a son about to enter college. As I battled through high school, I always found myself using my father as a blueprint to build me into the person I am today. If I could have only one friend for the rest of my life, I would choose my father; he has taught me lessons that I will never forget as long as I live.
My father will be the first one to admit that he regrets postponing college and has always instilled in me the importance of education. I see the importance of education every night in the scratches and calluses on his hands and the ache in his knees. After every scholarship or award I receive, my father firmly shakes my hand and I tacitly promise to ease his pain. As I fill out my college applications, I officially become the first member of my family to apply to college immediately after high school. I broke the chain because while my friends spent summer at the beach, I worked to save money for my future. While my friends honed their wakeboarding skills, I discovered my passion for politics on the campaign trail. I never faltered because every night I gazed into a set of the proudest eyes before I went to bed.
I remember that several weeks after my parents attended my middle school graduation, I had the enormous honor of congratulating my father after he realized his dream and got a college diploma, albeit 30 years overdue. My father’s college diploma reminds me that, no matter how bleak a situation may appear, I have the power to better it through diligence. As a freshman, my school resembled more accurately a 3 year-old construction site with tradition and identity yet to be established. However, rather than become discouraged, I took the initiative to pioneer Mock Trial, Speech and Debate and Junior State of America—things of which my father nor my school had never heard. In a school stained with prejudice, I co-founded Unity Through Diversity to advocate tolerance of all races, sexual orientations and faiths. In a community bitterly divided by political affiliation and marred by apathy, I spearheaded the Junior State of America to promote intelligent political discourse and activism. In a school with zero football victories, our freshman Mock Trial team gave the school championship trophies and pride.
My father is not only a member of my family; he is a friend who I can talk to after a tough day. With the clock ticking down until I leave home for college and my father working longer days and weeks, I relish every moment with him. However, I also realize that I must stand on my own. It is not my father’s responsibility to make sure that I get what I want out of life; I must do this independently. As I say my final farewell to my father, I will forever remember that he has given me tools, but it is my job to use them to craft my future.
Huber, Nick. "Describe a Person Who’s Had an Influence on You - "Dad"" StudyNotes.org. Study Notes, LLC., 07 Oct. 2013. Web. 10 Mar. 2018. <https://www.apstudynotes.org/harvard/dad/>.