Keep the Quirk!

Learn how ‘awkward and unpolished’ traits can draw out your unique personality and make your college admissions essay stand out.

Bill Gates has a ‘fixation’, he keeps his left hand inside his pocket. Steve Jobs’ quirk was to break down into a sob whenever he came across an especially brilliant idea during team meetings. And movie star Amitabh Bachchan reportedly loves wearing two watches – his habit started when his son was studying abroad and the silver screen legend wanted to keep track of both the time zones at the same time.

there’s a mountain of evidence that suggests our brain loves quirky and offbeat

Memory Medic William R. Klemm says, “Memories that stick with us for a lifetime are those that fit other things we remember—but have a slightly weird twist”. Per Sederberg, professor of psychology at The Ohio State University opines, “You have to build a memory on the scaffolding of what you already know, but then you have to violate the expectations somewhat. Wikipedia confirms the existence of something called the Negativity Bias : The notion that, even when of equal intensity, negative things – such as unpleasant emotions or traumatic moments – leave a greater imprint on our mind than events that are positive or neutral.

Being ‘Differently Wired’ can make you an attention magnet

Being uncommon doesn’t necessarily mean being negative. There are pleasant ways to underline and differentiate our presence, too. After all, it’s not evil that our brain seeks per se. What our minds really crave is change. We are constantly seeking a departure from the drudgery of the daily ritual. One practical application of this is marketing, where ‘being different’ lies at the heart of brand and communication strategy. 

Dare to be different in your study abroad admissions essay

If you have an unconventional attitude towards life, or a different way of looking at things, consider it a gift. Your signature schtick.  The entirely incorruptible USP of your very own Personal Brand. This is what study abroad admissions teams want to see. So cherish it, celebrate it, and try to design your college admissions essay around it. 


study abroad admissions essay

Ways to make your study abroad admissions essay stand out by showcasing your quirks

Here are some ways to demonstrate your unique differentiation in your college admissions essay. 

  • Mix up writing genres and styles when crafting your study abroad admissions essay. For example, try inserting a short 4 line poem (that fits the context and mood) between two paragraph to shake things up.

  • You may, under the guidance of a language expert, take certain liberties with grammar – yes, even for your university or college admissions essay. The initial ‘jarring sensation’ will ultimately give way, and draw the admissions essay examiner’s attention to your unique style of expressing emotions.

  • You don’t always have to tell your story in a linear chronological fashion. Try reversing the storyline of your admissions essay, or travelling forward and backward in time with flash-back approach.

  • Enthusiastically use minor details that most of us avoid for fear of embarrassment or because they think it’s not important. The reality is just the opposite. Peppering your admissions essay with interesting little details about setting and location not only brings every situation to life, but informs the reader about what matters to you (and what doesn’t), thereby helping them form a vivid mental image of your persona.

  • If you don’t like mincing words and have a direct way of approaching life, try radical candor while writing your study abroad admissions essay. Use short, staccato sentences, consider addressing ‘difficult’ or taboo topics head on, praise yourself unabashedly if it is helps you make a point.

  • A great writing hack is to write like you speak, and this applies to study abroad admissions essays as well. A natural tone, carrying your unfiltered flavour, turns every phrase into an ambassador of your unique persona. The best part? You don’t have to prepare too hard, either : Just be you!

Being true to yourself if a highly valued trait

Not just your college admissions essay. Being fearlessly unique can help you in various walks of life, including your professional journey. Leaders who embrace their ‘inner weirdness’, so to speak, tend to encourage D&I (diversity and inclusion) in their teams, have more authentic relationships with their colleagues, and contribute to happier and more innovative workplace cultures which impacts team productivity and business outcomes directly.  

Don’t let go of this ‘heaven sent’ opportunity to BE UNFORGETTABLE with your audiences – be it your friends, peers or the admissions essay examiner of your dream college.