For example: I like Math but also love History and am pretty good at sports. This is for my Statement of Purpose.

  • 1
    I just tell people I have too many interests. Conveys the situation accurately, and avoids self-aggrandization.
    – Fake Name
    May 5 '16 at 17:01
  • 1
    Why would being interested in lots of things be seen as either? It would (to me, anyway) show that you're a well-rounded & engaged person, rather than one with narrow interests. Now if you claimed that you were expert in all those things, that might be arrogance.
    – jamesqf
    May 5 '16 at 17:50
  • You have varied interests, which is extremely common and nothing to feel self-conscious of.
    – lux
    May 6 '16 at 23:06

11 Answers 11


Try jack of all trades. It means you're good at many things and have a variety of skills.

A word would be versatile.

Addition - If the above two options don't work for you, try a fancy word that would make you sound smart and good at english, just the way you want them to think of you, good at many things, a protean.

  • 4
    Jack of all trades - doesn't that have a kind of negative connotation? May 5 '16 at 12:22
  • 2
    As long as you don't mention the "master at none" part of the idiom, it is fine. Just for your information, the whole saying is "jack of all trades, master at none." The last part is omitted here to drop the negative connotation.
    – vickyace
    May 5 '16 at 12:25
  • Yeah I do know that but so do most people, especially the admission committee at the grad school i am applying to. It's for an SOP May 5 '16 at 12:28
  • @Karan see the new word that I added. Look for synonyms.
    – vickyace
    May 5 '16 at 12:33
  • 2
    @vickyace I'm pretty sure the whole saying is "Jack of all trades, master of none, though oftentimes better than master of one." The short version you mention has a negative connotation, but the shorter version has about the same effect as the original whole saying.
    – Poik
    May 5 '16 at 23:05

Quite avoiding terms like Renaissance Man I'd suggest versatile.

2: embracing a variety of subjects, fields, or skills; also : turning with ease from one thing to another


  • We seem to sharing a seat while riding in the same train of thought. +1
    – vickyace
    May 5 '16 at 12:20
  • I am working on my grad school SOP. So the problem with versatile is that declaring yourself to be versatile seems arrogant. Doesn't it? May 5 '16 at 12:21
  • @Karan, versatility declares broad interest and flexibility in a society focussed on specialism. No claim on excellence. So I do not think so. But in the end it is about what YOU think.
    – Bookeater
    May 5 '16 at 12:25
  • To me, versatile suggests: you're very flexible or, you don't really care what subject you study and will deal with whatever comes your way. May 5 '16 at 13:31

Keeping it simple: "I have a wide range of interests, including...".

But be forewarned, each of your example subjects can be broken up into smaller subjects, some of which you may actually dislike! The more you learn, the more you discover how little you really know!


Most of the replies here imply a level of skill. Being interested at something doesn't necessarily mean being good at it.

If you're simply looking tor something that means interest in subjects, here are some suggestions:

  • eclectic tastes
  • varied interests
  • diverse hobbies
  • engrossed in many subjects
  • a kaleidoscope of topics

(feel free to pick & mix)

  • Best answer in my opinion. May 6 '16 at 11:10

Polymath could work:

I'm a bit of a polymath: I like maths but also love history and am pretty good at sports.

This fits the "not arrogant" part as long as you say it in a self-deprecating way, perhaps with a smile and a slightly sardonic tone.

From Wikipedia:

A polymath is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas; such a person is known to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems. The term was first used in the 17th century; the related term, polyhistor, is an ancient term with similar meaning.

  • 14
    Polymath means you're good at lots of different things, which isn't necessarily the same as being Interested in lots of different things. May 5 '16 at 12:52
  • Yes but I think it fits perfectly. May 5 '16 at 13:11
  • 10
    This probably ticks the "not arrogant" and "not superficial" boxes but not sure about "not pretentious".
    – Nobilis
    May 5 '16 at 13:38
  • 1
    @karan - if you want to show a considerable command over language, and use "polymath", aren't you misusing it? If you just are interested in various topics, the word doesn't really work, as it means you have expertise in various fields...not simply an interest.
    – BruceWayne
    May 5 '16 at 13:44
  • 6
    @Nobilis I'm not sure about the "not arrogant" part, either. The word "polymath" most frequently occurs in biographies of great intellectuals of the past and present. If a friend said "I'm a polymath", my first inclination would be to complete the sentence with "...just like da Vinci," in a mocking tone of voice. May 5 '16 at 13:47

See also: "The Hedgehog and the Fox".

There is some literature that highlights to role of folks who are "interdisciplinary" as key to major innovations. If you want to know more about that looks for scholarly papers and chase the citations. This is sometimes call boundry crossing.

This habit, that of being a generalist, is at great enabling the importing of metaphors from one domain into another. See litoral region for example.


If you want to come across as humble, after discussing your many talents, a common, self-effacing disclaimer is:

"I just haven't decided what I want to be, when I grow up."(US)

  • I am working on a grad school SOP, so I have pretty much grown up. May 5 '16 at 12:19
  • 1
    I've passed the mid-century mark, and I often say it... It's kind of a tongue-in-cheek thing. (Hence, the self-effacing.)
    – Oldbag
    May 5 '16 at 12:22
  • Yeah well, but again - "I just haven't decided what I want to be, when I grow up." might even seem indecisive. Any thoughts? May 5 '16 at 12:25
  • @Oldbag: I have that problem solved. I've decided not to grow up :-) Which indeed is sort of a relevant answer to the OP, since children tend to be interested in everything.
    – jamesqf
    May 6 '16 at 2:53
  • @Karan, that statement up there is decidedly tongue-in-cheek, just a joking way to bring across your thoughts. Nobody will think that you mean to say that you are still a kid. You just have to decide whether you want to use such a light tone in your SOP; the image can fit your person or not. You have to decide.
    – AnoE
    May 6 '16 at 11:38

Why not play it fairly straight, which is how the header of your question reads, and describe yourself as well-rounded 1. Comprehensively developed and well-balanced in a range or variety of aspects.

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/well-rounded "involving or having experience in a wide range of ideas or activities."

Your comments on other answers seem to stress a desire to side on modesty. Plain language is probably an asset in achieving this.


You could say that you have catholic tastes, with "catholic" (note the small 'c') meaning "diverse" in this context.


Having said that, uneducated people might think that you are saying that you're a Catholic.

  • 1
    In the context of a college submission, there will be many typos across all the different entries, so this could easily be misunderstood. May 5 '16 at 13:32
  • The problem you state is a real one. Especially since the question didn't say that this is written communication. Verbal communication has no concept of capital and lowercase letters. (As Max stated, the issue is that the syllables "katholik" are most frequently used to refer to the Roman Catholic Church. This is true by a significant preponderance, so that will be the natural assumption. In fact, even in writing, I would suspect many people will assume that starting the word with a lowercase c is a spelling error. I guess that, to prevent that confusion, I simply avoid that one word.)
    – TOOGAM
    May 5 '16 at 16:38

"I have a broad skillset." (This may be a little bit more prone to being viewed as arrogant. However, this may be very appropriate if you are pursuing a job. As long as you're not claiming tons of depth/expertise in every skillset, people may be less prone to seeing that as arrogant.)

"I have a broad range of interests."

"I have a wide variety of activities that I love."

"I'm a dabbler. I dabble in many things."


Somewhat less known, but still intuitive:

I am a student of many disciplines.

This implies a certain humility (in recognizing that you still have room to learn) without the connotation of lacking mastery in something like:

Jack of all trades, master of none.

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