See? The prompt is kind of fun, right? 

This isn’t to say that what you write in your answer isn’t important. It is. Just because the question seems lighthearted, doesn’t mean your answer can’t be meaningful. In fact, it’s sometimes in moments of humor, awkwardness, or amusement that we happen upon our greatest insights.

And, if looking at this prompt still stresses you out and you’re unsure what to write about, we totally get that too. It can be hard to answer such an open-ended question with a limited word count. “Interesting” and “amusing” are extremely broad adjectives and you could take your essay in a lot of different directions.

For now, just take a deep breath and consider these general tips before you start writing:

  1. Tip #1: Don’t repeat what’s in your personal statement. The prompt explicitly asks you to touch on topics that you haven’t already mentioned in other parts of your application. This is an opportunity to talk about something new.

  2. Tip #2: Get specific. The more details you give, the more nuanced you’ll seem to your readers. If you’re scared your topic or story is generic, specificity is the antidote. Think of it like this. Every detail you give is like a filter, making it less and less likely that anyone else could’ve written what you wrote. You could talk about that one time you drew a painting in art class OR you could talk about how you spent a whole year in your Mixed Media art class recreating Monet’s Water Lillies out of recycled soda cans. Which one makes you want to read more? Definitely the second one.

  3. Tip #3: Use the space they give you. You only have 200-300 words, which isn’t a lot of space, so make use of it as best you can. If you don’t have that many words to say about something, consider writing about something else.

  4. Tip #4: Use humor… or don’t. This prompt may make you feel like you have to be funny because it uses the word “amusing.” However, while humor is a great tool to use in some cases, it’s not the only way to answer this question. If you’re a person who’s comfortable cracking a joke or two, go for it. If being funny doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t try and force it. Remember that the prompt also asks you to talk about something “interesting” that’s happened to you. It’s easy to focus on the word “amusing” but that’s not the only direction to take your answer.

  5. Tip #5: Expand on the impact of your topic. Just because this is a seemingly lighthearted question doesn’t mean you can’t talk about meaningful things. Why does impact matter? It helps the reader understand why they should care. Hopefully the topic you’ve chosen is something you’re jazzed about, remember fondly, or learned something from. The key here is getting your reader to understand why you chose that random story about how you saved the class gerbil from getting eaten by a hawk on the playground in second grade. Showing impact is the way to do it. Here are some ways to think about impact:

    1. Numbers. Perhaps what you choose to talk about has a particularly shocking statistic. Maybe your interest in that topic inspired you to do something that had a significant numerical effect. Consider adding specific numbers to bolster your claims and give your readers a sense of magnitude.

    2. Anecdotal evidence of impact, or quotations. Impact doesn’t have to be quantitative to convey urgency, importance, or power. The more of you that you put in your essay, the better.

    3. Personal impact (on you, the author) in the form of lessons learned, skills gained. It’s especially interesting to note if these skills transferred to other areas of your life. 

  6. Tip #6: Write it long first, then cut it. In our experience, this tends to be easier than writing a very short version and then trying to figure out what to add.

We’ve never actually seen a really great example essay for this topic, but if you have one you’d like to share, we’d love to see it! Email [email protected]

Special thanks to Luci for her contributions to this post.