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Last updated April 12, 2023

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Should you write your college essay about siblings?

Key Takeaway

College essays about siblings are pretty popular. To write one that stands out, avoid focusing too much on your sibling. Remember: your college essay should be, at its core, about you.

Siblings. Love them or hate them, they shape who you are, especially as a high school student.

If your relationship with your sibling(s) has significantly impacted your life, then you may be considering it as a topic for your college essay.

But how do you decide if writing about siblings is right for you? If it is, what’s the best way to write about them in a college essay?

Like a fight with your sibling, let’s get into it.

When should you write a college essay about your siblings?

Essays about siblings have a lot of potential as personal statements because your personality and values can implicitly shine through your relationship with your sibling(s).

They can also be downright adorable. In fact, one of the essays I remember most fondly from my time as an admissions officer was about the student’s close relationship with her sibling. I could tell that she was a really sweet, caring person from how she wrote about their good memories together.

But “adorable” isn’t always the message you want your admissions officers to take away from your essay.

Students commonly err by spending too much valuable essay real estate describing their sibling or relationship and not enough on themselves.

At the end of the day, your college essay needs to be a genuine reflection that tells the admissions committee who you are and why they should admit you.

If your own relationship with your sibling(s) does that for you, then go for it. If not, consider another topic that does.

Dos and don’ts when writing about siblings in your college essay

Once you’ve determined whether you should write about your siblings, you’re likely asking how you should write about them. Consider the following advice before you begin writing your essay.

Do write about a memory or tradition that significantly shaped who you are.

One way to write a successful essay about siblings is to hone in on a specific memory or tradition.

Focusing on a specific event gives your admissions officer insight into what your life has actually been like. It’ll also help keep you on track and prevent you from going on too many tangents.

You can set the scene through your language and extract broader meaning from those special moments with your sibling.

The key is that the memory or tradition has to have had a concrete and prominent effect on who you are today. Otherwise, why write about it?

You could write about how you and your sister are renowned tennis stars, how you hiked the Pacific Crest Trail with your three siblings, or how yearly Groundhog Day celebrations with your brother led to your interest in physics.

Choose a memory or tradition that molded your values or dramatically changed something about you.

Do explain how a specific part of you exists because of your sibling.

Another effective approach is to explain how your sibling directly influenced you.

Beware of focusing too much on your sibling. But sometimes the only way we can truly explain who we are is by discussing the events or people that affected us.

If your sibling’s personality, activities, or behavior made you into who you are today, then this approach may be for you.

Probably the most common version of this essay is about sibling competition. Students like to write about how they have always competed with or lived in the shadow of a sibling. This approach can sometimes work, but it’s a common topic that tends to be too negative, so you may consider alternatives.

Better methods might include: identifying an impactful activity you did together, reconciling different beliefs, or analyzing how your personality developed in response to theirs.

Whichever approach you choose, try to avoid the following common mistakes.

Don’t write a college essay about how great your siblings are.

Your college admissions essay isn’t Yelp. Don’t just write a glowing review of your sibling rather than a college essay about yourself. Your sibling should not be the main character of your essay. You should.

Your essay also shouldn’t provide a simple or generic explanation of why you love, hate, admire, etc. them.

Think about it: does an essay on those topics actually advocate for you to be admitted? Likely not. That’s why it’s important that your essay is, at its core, about you.

Don’t get lost in negative emotions.

While you may have been negatively impacted in some way by your sibling, your college essay isn’t a burn book, either. And its goal isn’t to get your sibling into (or out of) college.

Your college essay needs to serve you.

While it’s okay to explore the darker sides of life in a college essay, you don’t want to write something that ultimately leaves your admissions officer with a negative taste.

You want them to envision you as a happy, engaged college student. However you write about your relationship with your sibling should, in the end, help your admissions officer to make these positive connections.

Final Thoughts

College essays about siblings don’t always work in your favor. They can be too much about your sibling, too superficial, or filled with too much emotion that doesn’t serve a clear purpose.

So if you’re going to write about your siblings, make sure that you are doing so because it is the best way to tell the admissions committee about you.

If you’re ready start writing your college essay about siblings, check out our How to Write a College Essay guide.

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