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The Office of Undergraduate Admissions recruits students for Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (including Corcoran School of the Arts and Design and School of Media and Public Affairs), Elliott School of International Affairs, School of Business, School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Milken Institute School of Public Health. Applicants to other schools at GW should refer to their respective school for admission policies.
This prompt can be misleading in the sense that it may cause you to write an essay that doesn’t focus on showing the admissions office more of who you are. Avoid spending too much of your essay word count writing solely about the other person. One strategy could be to write your essay first without mentioning them, then write a couple of sentences on them and find where would be best to incorporate them afterwards (without sounding choppy). Be careful to find a balance between addressing the prompt and not letting your comments on your mentor take over.
Another point to consider is whether this mentor is already writing you a letter of recommendation. If so, it’s highly possible that they will already write about this challenge in their letter for you and end up making this essay somewhat repetitive. In that case, you may want to consider other people who played supporting roles for you.
Ironically, the most significant challenge involved with addressing this prompt, besides writing about your mentor, is coming up with an appropriate and significant challenge to center the essay around. If you have gone through personal issues that you don’t feel comfortable sharing, you are by no means obligated to write about them or to even choose this prompt.
On the other hand, if you need to spend more than a minute after reading the prompt questioning whether you have had a challenge worth writing about, we urge you to avoid arbitrarily choosing something and over emphasizing its significance to you.
For example, if you were involved in competitive groups such as Debate, DECA, FBLA, SkillsUSA, MUN etc., you could write generally about feeling grateful for the time and effort your advisors or mentors put into getting you through losses and failures inevitable to these types of clubs.
However, picking a more specific challenge that you have experienced instead will typically engage the readers more since you won’t need to write in abstract or vague terms. For example, you could write about how your mentor was able to calm you down right before an important competition as you were experiencing extreme anxiety or dealing with an intense family/personal issue. This could be a moment that really fits the theme of writing about someone providing support and wisdom through difficulty while still highlighting your participation in that activity.
Getting creative with the syntax of this essay could also greatly increase the originality. For example, you could write the essay in the form of a thank you letter addressing your person of importance, or you could write about them more abstractly before revealing who they are at the end of the essay. Think about how authors write forwards in their books as short inspirations for how to credit others for the help they received from them.
Also, if you happen to have had a struggle during high school that at any point impacted your ability to perform academically, this is a good space to provide a clarifying narrative (while avoiding making excuses).