A good selfie can define and shape your personal image that you blast out to the world. The same goes with your college application essay.

Both selfies and personal statement essays are supposed to capture your essence on some level, and reveal what makes you stand out from the crowd of other applicants. Some of the same tricks you use to snap your selfies apply to writing these admission essays, such as for The Common App and other universities and colleges.

If you are starting the college admissions process, it’s time to put down the cell phone and pick up your pens now or this summer or as soon as you can. Here are five ways that selfies and college admission essays are similar, and some tips that can help you craft an awesome essay snapshot of yourself (click the links for more help):

1. A good one catches everyone’s attention. There is something about a great selfie that grabs the viewer; they can’t take their eyes off you. Same thing with your personal statement: It’s imperative to hook the reader’s attention at the start with a compelling introduction, such as starting with an anecdote.

2. The unexpected or a twist makes them better. If you can show something about yourself that surprises the viewer, you will make a stronger impact. You are riding an elephant or diving off a cliff or eating live bugs. Great stuff! Same with your personal statement: Featuring something college admissions officers wouldn’t expect to learn about you only makes you that much more interesting and memorable.


Don’t pucker in your college app essay!

3. They are in focus. If they are blurry or unclear, they lose their impact. Same with your personal statement: If you try to cover too much ground about yourself, and start listing your talents or accomplishments or your life story, you start to get fuzzy around the edges. Better to zero in on one specific quality, value or experience to keep the point your are making about yourself in sharp focus.

4. The best capture your personal style. Are you a jokester who likes mugging for the camera or someone who loves big hats or a serious type who always has a more intense message? Same thing with your personal statement: A strong personal statement will reveal your individuality through the topic and details you choose, as well as your writing style and voice.


5. A few tweaks can turn a mediocre image into one that pops. With some simple Photoshop or phone app editing tweaks, you can often transform yourself and highlight your best angles and features. Same with your personal statement: Once you write a rough draft (which is like your original shot), go back and tweak your writing by editing it and making changes that improve the message and overall picture you are making of yourself.

So is your college application essay #selfie going to be dull and predicable or show a little attitude? Often, it’s worth the risk to get that great shot!