The titular college prompt can be asked in many areas within the college application process—it may be a college essay or interview, come up in a college interview, or even appear as an icebreaker for visits or orientations. Some students dread this question and freeze up as they scramble to produce an answer. Other students are all too happy to talk about themselves and ramble on and on. A middle ground answer is preferable. So, how do you answer “tell us about yourself?”
Tailor the Answer to the Situation
Different scenarios might call for different answers to “tell us about yourself.” When you’re at orientation with fellow students, you might list your favorite movies or TV shows you’re into. But, at an interview, those likely shouldn’t be your go-to description of yourself
If you’re interviewing with the college, find an answer that relates to what you hope to study there. For example, if you want to study marine biology, include your passion for oceanic environmental protection and your ultimate goal of being an NOAA scientist in your answer. Or if you want to go into computer science, talk about clubs, competitions, or passion-projects you’ve done in the past. The point is: make it relevant to the school and your studies.
If you’re applying to a scholarship for students who involved with the community, talk about your volunteering experience or how helping others impacts you. What is the scholarship about? How do you relate to it? Start piecing together an answer from that information.
Answer the Question by Talking About Your Passion, Hobbies, Activities, Etc.
If you’re being asked “tell us about yourself,” it means whoever is doing the asking wants to get to know you. Sometimes it feels that the college application process boils down to numbers and data. The interview is your chance to put some humanity and personality into your application.
So how do you talk about what makes you you? Think of things that you’re passionate about—equality, the cinematography in movies, the environment, debating, world events, the history of East Asia, etc—it can really be anything. Bonus points if your passion is what drives you to attend that particular school.
Hobbies are also a big part of who you are. What do you do in your free time? While “napping” might be your answer, it may not fit best in these situations. Do you like to draw? Read? Play community sports? Volunteer? Build robots? LARP? Passion and hobbies are often closely linked.
School isn’t all classes and tests. Many students are involved in a ton of extracurricular activities—so talk about them! Did you start a school book club? Have you been in the choir since kindergarten? Did you have a track meet and a mock trial debate on the same weekend? Talk about what you’re involved in, what you enjoy about these activities. What you do reflects who you are, or at least an aspect of who you are.
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