Admitted Essay for Barnard College: Essay Review

Admitted Essay Reviews
September 3, 2020
Writing An Essay That’s Focused On One, Specific Person Can Be A Real Challenge...

If your college essay prompt asks you to choose a person from history that inspires you, you may be wondering how to even begin. After all, there are so many people that have changed the course of history, and choosing the person to focus your essay on is only half the battle.

Fortunately, by choosing someone who is well-known and ensuring that you’re truly inspired by them and their work, you can create an impressive person-focused essay that helps college admissions officers learn more about you; and learn what makes you a perfect fit for their college!

An Admitted Essay For Barnard College

Pick one woman in history or fiction to converse with for an hour and explain your choice. What would you talk about?

“In 1974, U.S. Representative Bella Abzug went to American Express to obtain a credit card. However, she was denied because she was told she needed her husband’s signature to obtain a line of credit. Shocked, she decided to use her congressional power to change credit laws so all women would be able to obtain credit by themselves. This was one of the many circumstances where she used her intelligence, wit, perseverance, and values to help women obtain their inalienable rights. Nicknamed “Battling Bella,” Abzug served in Congress for three terms, fighting passionately for activist causes pertaining to the environment, war, and particularly women’s rights. I admire her dedication to fight for others’, which continues to be a pertinent issue in our lives.

Two years ago, I volunteered with a state assembly candidate who sought to voice the concerns of members of marginalized communities. If given the opportunity, my passion for activism in my community would compel me to ask Abzug about the changes she witnessed in relation to women’s rights. I would seek her advice on how she maintained her positions despite fierce dissent, her opinion on today’s political situation, and how we can achieve equality, especially after events such as Hillary Clinton’s presidential defeat. Finally, I would seek her advice for young women who are working to become leaders of their community. Abzug is one of the reasons why I can pursue psychology as a profession, and she inspires me to make a difference through my work.”

Our Expert Review

It can be easy for students to overthink an essay that requires them to choose a person from history. After all, there are so many significant figures to choose from, and a student may have multiple role models. With the added stress of getting their point across in only a couple hundred words, students have a real challenge on their hands with person-focused essays.

Fortunately, this student got right to the point in the very first sentence of their Barnard College essay by giving a short summary of why this historical figure is important. They also did a great job clearly connecting what the historical figure did and why they admire this person. The student’s perspective is what matters most in essays like this. This is why students should be careful to not just give a biographical essay; they should go deeper and connect why the person they chose means a lot to them.

How To Apply This Advice To Your Own College Essays


When you choose someone from history who is well-known, you significantly cut down on the amount of explaining you’ll have to do about the person. Remember that you don’t have much space in your college essay to give an in-depth background about someone. If you’ll be writing an essay on a historical figure, choose someone who is widely recognized. This way, when you give their name, your reader will already have a general idea of what kind of work they did.

Once you give the name of your chosen figure, you can dedicate a larger majority of your essay connecting this person and their work to yourself and your future goals. The most important thing for you to remember is that college admission officers want to know more about you through your choice, not more about the historical figure themselves.

When writing your own college essays, ask these questions:

  • Is this person prominent enough that I won’t have to give a lengthy explanation about their place in history?
  • How can I quickly and efficiently give an accurate summary of my chosen person’s work?


After you provide a short summary of the person you’ve chosen as the centerpiece of your essay, focus on drawing clear connections between yourself and them. The best way to do this is to emulate what this student expressed in the second paragraph of their essay. Talk a bit about the work you’re passionate about, and even consider explaining what you plan on studying or what you hope to accomplish in college.

With this specific prompt, the student was automatically given the opportunity to draw their connection because they were asked to express what they’d like to ask their chosen historical figure. However, regardless of the specifics of your essay prompt, connect your person’s work to your own work and you’ll be adding depth into your essay.

When writing your own college essays, ask these questions:

  • How did this person’s work inspire your own work?
  • In the future, are you interested in doing the same kind of work they did?


Lastly, you’ll want to briefly explain why you chose this person. You may not necessarily even like this person as an individual; all that matters is that you’re able to connect to them and their place in history. The better you can describe how you relate to this person, the more you’ll be drawing in your reader.

When writing your own college essays, ask these questions:

  • Why did you choose this person, and how do you relate to them personally?
  • How are you able to empathize with them and their work?

Use Someone Else To Reveal Who You Are

The most important thing to remember when you’re writing your person-focused essay is that your admission officers want to learn more about you through your essay’s subject.

For an essay that will grab their attention and keep them invested:

  • Choose someone well-known
  • Spend a small portion of your essay explaining who your subject is, and a larger portion focusing on yourself
  • Connect how their work inspires your work and passions
  • Make your reasons for choosing that person clear

As you’re writing your college essay, be confident in your writing style and who inspires you! When it comes to delivering a unique, one-of-a-kind essay, your best bet is to stay true to who you are and be proud of how specific historical figures have inspired you. By being direct and simple, you can write an essay that answers the prompt quickly and accurately and showcases who you are in a positive way.

Of course, essay writing is probably one of the more difficult and time-consuming steps of the college application process, so if you run into any hurdles along the way, remember that WeAdmit’s professional counselors are experts when it comes to essays. We’d love to help you with everything from choosing the right prompts to polishing your final draft before you send it off to your dream college!



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