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Articles / Applying to College / What should Africa trip college essay include?

Oct. 7, 2008

What should Africa trip college essay include?

Question: In my major college essay, I discuss a my trip to Africa. I was wondering if I should include a brief summary of what I did there or should I just say what I learned and have gained from it?

It's hard to answer your question because it seems that what you learned from being in Africa would be intertwined with what you did there. Thus it would be necessary to reveal at least some of the purpose of your trip as you discuss what you gained from it.


As you begin to write, also note that admission officials--especially at the most selective colleges--are usually deluged with "My trip abroad and what I learned from it" essays. These commonly end with predictable refrains such as, "As different as the people were, I found we had much in common," or "I came home very changed and grateful for the advantages of my homeland," etc.

Although a great essay can be written about almost any topic, do keep in mind that admission folks see a lot of travel essays, so you'll have to write yours especially well to make it stand out from the crowd.

Good luck!

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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