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3 Tips: Creating Your Application Theme

Updated: May 30, 2023

Take a moment to think about your favorite movie character or protagonist from a novel or short story. It's likely that this character comes to mind because the story they tell helps the audience understand the full scope of who they are. When considering your favorite book or movie, it's interesting to reflect on the depth of understanding and connection you feel towards your favorite character despite the limited space available in these media.

You may feel like you really “know” them – how they think, what motivates them, their good, and their bad qualities.

When it comes to creating your university application theme or persona, we're essentially doing the same thing – providing a depth of understanding and a feeling of real connection to you as the applicant within the limited space of the college application.

Choosing your application persona or theme is not easy, but without it, you will struggle to create a compelling story about who you are and why you should be admitted.

Here Are Some Important Tips

To start, it's important to acknowledge what the best application themes and personas have in common: they incorporate multiple elements of the student's personal and academic life throughout each piece of the application.

Here are some tips to help you tell your most compelling story:

Tip #1: A strong application must include information about the student's academic talents, interests, and goals for the future in their chosen field. However, we want to avoid simply listing the number of math and science courses you've taken, for example, as a student interested in engineering. We want to dig deeper into your personal feelings of excitement, engagement, or possibility when you are exploring these individual talents, interests, and goals.

Tip #2: Your extracurricular profile is very important. I encourage students to get involved in extracurricular activities that reflect their genuine interests. While these activities may seem unrelated to each other, identifying which of them support your application theme can strengthen your application profile. Be sure to order them on your resume and in the extracurricular section of the application accordingly. In other words, those activities most connected to your theme appear first in all listings.

Tip #3: Essays are crucial in strengthening your theme or persona. Use every essay to showcase your alignment with your chosen field, and identify significant extracurricular activities that further support your application theme. This helps the admissions officer understand who you are and why you should be admitted.

By identifying your application persona or theme and working hard to highlight it through the different pieces of your university application, you can create a compelling story about who you are and why you're the perfect candidate for admission.


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