Do You Have a “Universal Truth” in Your College Essay?

Finding the Life Lesson
in Your College Admission Essay


A key component of a powerful personal narrative (essay) is what’s called a “universal truth.”

They are also called “life lessons.”

Basically, when the writer starts to reflect upon the personal lessons learned from an experience, she or he needs to make sure to show why the lesson is important to everyone else as well—that is, why it is true on a universal level.

What is a universal truth?

Often, they are so “true” that they seem almost silly to say out loud.


Love hurts.

Be true to yourself.

What goes around comes around.

Cheaters never win.

Never say never.

Sometimes you have to lose in order to win.

You can’t always get what you want.

Face your fears.

What goes around comes around(eg Karma).

You reap what you sow (you get out of life what you put into it).

(Try putting, “In life, …” before the universal truth to test it out.)

Read some sample essays and see if you can find the “universal truth.”

In your own college application essay, you don’t necessarily have to state the universal truth, however, at some point you should at least touch on it, usually toward the end.

If you need help getting started with your college application essay or personal statement, try my Jumpstart Guide.