Autobiographies Every College Applicant Should Read

Posted January 16, 2015 by
Illustration depicting a book with a life story concept title. White background.

Illustration depicting a book with a life story concept title. White background. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Writing about oneself in a personal statement can be incredibly challenging. We are taught from a young age to underplay our achievements, affect modesty when we have excelled and not to boast about good grades or awards. Then, all of a sudden, in order to gain entry to college or secure a great job, we must do a quick about-turn, and talk ourselves up to get the admissions board salivating over our application! Along with the usual tips and tricks, it can be valuable to get in the right mindset for your application and remind yourself of the many reasons you’re passionate about your chosen topic. What better way to get motivated than to read about the accomplishments of some of the most inspiring minds of our time?

For Science majors

An astrophysicist from the mean streets of NYC, Neil de Grasse Tyson has made it his mission to make the night skies accessible to millions of people across the world. His semi-autobiography, The Sky is not the Limit will appeal to anyone with an inquisitive mind and a fascination with the forces that order our universe. Tyson writes on topics as diverse as prejudice and the likelihood of meteoric apocalypse with warmth and humor, and his exquisite attitude to life will stay with you long after you’ve closed the cover.

For English applications

There is an abundance of prime, iconic autobiographies available in literature; George Orwell, Sylvia Plath and Joseph Conrad have all written excellent essays, or memoirs. If you must pick one, perhaps Ernest Hemingway is the most rigorous introduction to a very literary turn of phrase and attitude. His sparse, sensational A Moveable Feast concerns his time in 1920s Paris and in his words “if the reader prefers, this book may be regarded as fiction.”

For IT degrees

Although not an autobiography, the official biography of Steve Jobs, written by Walter Isaacson, was produced from forty interviews held with the inventor, as well as hundreds of people that knew the man behind the inventions that have become synonymous with the word ‘innovation’. The energy and impetus of his story drives the narrative forward: it was his mission to ‘put a dent in the universe’. His inspirational contributions have undoubtedly achieved this for generations to come.

For studying Political Science

If you’re after insightful true stories and autobiographies by those in the upper echelons of power, Hilary Clinton’s Hard Choices is a set of inspiring memoirs filled with vision. After running for the US presidency in 2008, Hilary Clinton expected to return to representing New York in the Senate. Instead she was asked by President Barack Obama to serve as Secretary of State. This autobiography tells of the four years that followed, of the difficult decisions they faced to rebuild damaged international relations, gradually bring two wars to a head and tackle the financial crisis that had engulfed the world. Drawing on conversations with leaders and experts, Hilary Clinton offers real insight and perspective as to how the US can compete and thrive and makes a heartfelt case for human rights and the equal participation of different members of society.

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