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Last updated July 7, 2023

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College Essay About Hair: Dos and Don’ts

Key Takeaway

Good college essays about hair are more than just hair; they should reveal deeper aspects of your identity or significant relationships. Avoid surface-level descriptions or challenges that lack depth and don't provide insights about you.

As an admissions officer, I read quite a few essays about hair. After all, hair can be an important part of your identity for a lot of reasons.

At best, college essays about hair can reveal vulnerable insights into an applicant’s life.

But at worst, college essays about hair can be boring, cliche, and inauthentic.

Let’s go over how to write yours the right way.

Effective Ways to Approach a College Essay About Hair

To put it simply, good college essays about hair are in reality about a lot more than your hair.

Hair becomes a mechanism for telling a meaningful story about your life, and there are two main ways applicants tend to do this.

How your hair relates to or symbolizes another significant aspect of your identity

Hair can be symbolic, religious, political, and more. It can be a significant part of people’s daily experiences in a way that goes way beyond looks.

Maybe you want to write about your experience wearing a hijab. Or perhaps you have an illness or condition that affects your hair. Or maybe you want to write about not being able to cut your hair because of your upbringing, or even the process of coming to terms with your hair texture as it relates to your identity.

There are so many directions a good college essay about hair can take. Relating your hair to a deeper aspect of your identity can be a great way to draw out meaning and reveal important insights to admissions officers.

How hair has been part of your close relationships

If you had long hair as a child, you probably know the pain of having a loved one brush through a knot in your hair or tie a ponytail too tight.

Hair can be a way you relate to those around you.

Whether you fondly remember your grandma braiding your hair or you always connected with your dad because you were the only two in the family with curly hair, using your hair as a way to talk about a close relationship can be an impactful college essay topic.

But as with any college essay that relates to another person, just be sure to keep the ultimate message of the essay on you, not the other person.

Bad Ways to Approach a College Essay About Hair

Like any popular college essay topic, there are wrong ways to write about your hair.

So what makes an essay about hair a bad personal statement?

It doesn’t reveal any genuine insights that give admissions officers more reason to admit you.

Let’s say you’re applying for a competitive engineering program. You have great supplementals, solid activities, and an outstanding transcript. But you decided to write your personal statement about what it’s like to have curly hair.

Admissions officers breeze through your application—it looks promising. When they get to your personal statement, though, things fall flat. Your personal statement was a good read, but it doesn’t sway the admissions officer in your favor because it doesn’t give them any insight into why you’d be a good addition to their engineering program. They end up voting to reject you.

Avoid the following two approaches to prevent this story from happening to you.

Simple description of what your hair is like

Curly, straight, frizzy, sleek, short, long, voluminous, thin—there are so many ways to describe hair. The topic can actually make for fantastic material for creative writing.

But too many applicants start and stop with a description of their hair. They explain what it’s been like to have hair of a particular type, color, or texture. They might even detail the journey of coming to terms with their hair. But they leave it at that.

Unfortunately, that’s not enough for a college essay.

If you want to write about your experiences with your hair, be sure to connect them to a deeper part of your identity.

Surface-level account of a challenge you had with your hair

Maybe you were bullied because of your hair. Or maybe you finally got the courage to change your signature style, and it didn’t go well. Maybe you got gum in your hair and had to cut it all off and felt lost without it.

Those sound like impactful moments, but they alone aren’t strong topics for a college essay.

When challenges stay on the surface level, they leave admissions officers asking, “So what?” So what if you go gum in your hair? So what if you changed your signature style and had to wait a couple weeks for people to get used to it?

Connecting your hair to a deeper part of your lived experience answers the “So what?” question up front. Don’t leave your admissions officer guessing.


Your hair should be a tool you use to talk about a deeper part of yourself or your experiences. Staying at the level of looks isn’t enough.

That’s why it’s critical that you use the right approach.

It’s all about creating a seamless application narrative, one that shows admissions officers exactly why you’d be a great addition to their campuses.

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