Not just humor, but the overall tone of your application essay is remarkably important. It's also difficult to get right. When you are asked to write about your accomplishments, those 750 words on how great you are can make you sound like a braggart. Be careful to balance your pride in your achievements with humility and generosity towards others. You also want to avoid sounding like a whiner -- use your essay to show off your skills, not to explain the injustices that lead to your low math score or failure to graduate #1 in your class.
I’m sure many people would probably make blanket statements that are hard to understand…”don’t write about something too grandiose” “don’t write about something too mundane” “don’t make it too intellectual-sounding” “don’t make it sound like intellectualism is not a part of your life”–but the best advice I can give is figure out a writing style that works for you, and run with it. If you look hard enough, you will find people in your life who know you well enough to give you tips on your writing style while staying true to yourself and making it genuine. Take this advice with a grain of salt. Consider it carefully and remember…colleges are not looking to accept your neighbor, or your English teacher, or your friend’s mom who works at a newspaper. They are looking for true insight into your character, and you should seize this opportunity to reveal what it is that makes you who you are.
It may sound like a chore, and it will certainly take a substantial amount of work. But it's also a unique opportunity that can make a difference at decision time. Admissions committees put the most weight on your high school grades and your test scores . However, selective colleges receive applications from many worthy students with similar scores and grades—too many to admit. So they use your essay, along with your letters of recommendation and extracurricular activities , to find out what sets you apart from the other talented candidates.