I share words of wisdom from Jay Mathews on this blog often enough that I probably no longer need to identify him as "from the Washington post and author of Harvard Schmarvard." Jay's advice is just so easy to follow and, frankly, correct that I think he deserves as many mentions as we can give him.
Here's my favorite blurb from his latest piece "Words to The Wise about Writing College Application Essays":
Reveal an endearing flaw…some bit of self-deprecation that will convince the college that you would be a pleasant person to have around. Is the essay about your love of chess? Describe the day you set your high school team's record for being checkmated. Are you writing about your effort to ride every bike trail in the state? Say how you felt when you got hopelessly lost in the woods and had to be guided to safety by a passing Cub Scout troop."
It's good advice. There's a book called "Getting In" in which the former Dean of Admission at Princeton recalls that one of the students he admitted the fastest was a kid who wrote that he was the worst soccer player on the worst soccer team in the state.
Have you ever known someone who could admit when he wasn't good at something, someone who laughed at herself easily, or a person who was just generally was confident enough not to be ashamed when he made a mistake? It's hard not to like those people. And since your college essay is all about making the admissions officers like you, it doesn't hurt to occasionally poke a little fun at yourself.