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Writing an essay about yourself: describing your skills

There are many occasions for which a student may be required to write an essay about themselves. These include entrance applications, scholarship applications, portfolios required for entry into special programs, and for certain classes, like communications or business classes. It seems as though writing about oneself would be the easiest of all possible topics—after all, who knows more about the subject than the author? However, many students are uncomfortable with describing their skills. Here are some strategies that can help:

  1. Write Your First Draft in Third Person
  2. While the instructions for your essay may be to write in first person, there are a few reasons for writing your first draft in a third person point of view.

    • First person point of view is a rare assignment requirement and as a result, many students may not do their best work (initially) in first person POV.
    • The tone of your essay should be matter of fact, neither falsely modest nor unrealistically self promoting. It can be easier to maintain this sort of objective tone when you aren’t writing in first person.

    Once the first draft is complete, the student can then re-write it in first person without losing the objectivity and structure of the third person point of view article.

  3. Plan Ahead
  4. Because one is so comfortable with the topic (at least in terms of knowing about it) the writer may have a tendency to ramble more than usual. An outline is an absolute necessity, yet many students skip outlines for self-descriptive essays, because they feel they don’t really need to outline something they know so much about. To make a great outline, follow these steps:

    • First, read over the essay instructions carefully and make a list of what should be included.
    • Second, make a list of the skills you have which are relevant to the essay.
    • Third, determine the topic for each body paragraph.
    • Fourth, divide the skills you’ve listed up according to category based on the topics of each body paragraph.
    • Finally, craft the outline, making notes on the introduction, each body paragraph, and the conclusion, including notes on how you will transition between each paragraph.

  5. Proofreading and Editing
  6. More than any other type of essay, it’s a good idea to have a third party assist you in proofing and editing an essay about yourself. Another perspective can be invaluable.

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