Applying for college often feels stressful and time consuming when you consider all the files, information, and essays you need to put together to send off. While the majority of this is simply data compilation, the college essay is often the one document that can set you apart. Sure, you may have the volunteer hours, the club memberships, and even a very nice GPA. However, the essay is your chance to really showcase who you are and why you deserve a shot at the school you're applying for. This is true for all institutions, including HBCUs. The essay is crucial for these schools in regard to your why—why an HBCU instead of a PWI? Questions like these are ones you must consider to truly nail your essay. Here are some quality tips to help make your HBCU application stand out.
You've probably heard this one before, but it couldn't be more true. You wouldn't believe how many students use the same dry cookie-cutter schematic for their essays. Essays like these get overlooked simply because they aren't offering anything worthwhile. You can avoid this by being yourself. Instead of writing about your favorite sport and how it impacted your life—which the board may already see listed in your extracurriculars—tell them something that they wouldn't see. Are you involved in social justice or have a knack for animals? Tell them! Tying in personal stories to your academic goals will differentiate your essay. Allow it to highlight your strengths, not just things you like. Doing this will help prove you'll be a successful addition to the incoming freshman class.
No matter what you do, do NOT use the same essay for every school you apply for. This method may save you time but could cost you in the long run if you've left in another school's name or information. If you're applying for Howard, you want your essay to feel like you've written it just for them, not Tuskegee. Take the time to research the department you're interested in or facets about the school you want to be involved in. Show the board that you put the time and effort into your HBCU application to be a competitive candidate.
What's Your Why?
This is a simple yet effective question to guide you through your HBCU application. Asking yourself, "Why an HBCU?" will help you create the argument you want to present in your essay. The goal of the essay is to show you're passionate and excited for an opportunity at a particular school. The board will notice if it seems as if they're one of a dozen on your list. Why do you truly want to attend that specific HBCU? What makes them special to you? Take some time thinking about your "why," and the essay will feel easier to pen.