This prompt reminds us of the classic job interview question: “What is your biggest weakness?” When answering questions like these, it’s important to demonstrate honesty and self-awareness, but it’s even more important to showcase your strengths through the discussion of your “weaknesses” or anticipated challenges.
A possible route you could take for this essay could be briefly describing something you have struggled with previously (e.g., social anxiety when around a lot of new people) and explain ways in which you’ve overcome this in the past and how it has positively affected you (for example, by putting yourself out there and joining the chess club, which is now one of your favorite hobbies and greatest skills).
This type of response not only shows strength through your willingness to be somewhat vulnerable, but also illustrates your growth, problem-solving skills, and ability to deal with tough situations.
Keep in mind, though, that you should definitely spend more time detailing how you’ve overcome a problem than talking about the problem itself. It won’t give the admissions team much confidence in your ability to deal with the inevitably stressful situations of college if you spend 150 out of 200 words talking about how much of a burden your crippling social anxiety has been for you. Avoid writing a sob story; instead, reflect on your growth and maturity.
Remember: You are trying to demonstrate how you’ve grown from challenges and learned to face your fears, not just describe how your fears have negatively affected you.
Another route you could take is to talk about an anticipated challenge you have not previously faced, but how your strengths and other experiences you’ve had will help you with them. For example, perhaps you come from a small private school with a graduating class of 60 people. Or maybe you live in a rural town in Oklahoma and have never been to a city on the East Coast. Both of these backgrounds would potentially make attending Pitt overwhelming and nerve-wracking for you at first.
For this kind of response, it is still important to focus more on how you will handle the challenge than the actual challenge itself. If, like mentioned in the example above, you are coming from an extremely small high school, you could talk about how your strengths (e.g., outgoing or adventurous personality) or past experiences (for example, doing a summer study-abroad program) will help you deal with the challenge.
What We Need From You
If you have not attended any schools since high school graduation, please complete our transfer application, and leave the “College Information” section of the application blank. If you have attended a college, university or other post-secondary school after graduating from high school or earning a GED, apply using our transfer application and make sure to complete the “College Information” section of the application.
Veterans are eligible for an application fee waiver.
Official high school transcript and official transcripts from all colleges/universities attended (if transferring from another post-secondary school).
Self presentation in the form of a personal essay about experiences in the military, additional training, leadership opportunities, educational pursuits, and/or advancements/promotions, will help the admissions committee in its holistic review process.
If you have taken the SAT/ACT and you are in your first year of college, please arrange for all of your official test results to be forwarded directly to Pitt from the testing agency. Veterans will be exempted from the SAT/ACT requirement by applying for admission to the College of General Studies.
Military transcripts or other supportive documents such as letters of recommendation may also be provided.