How to write a college essay

How to write a college essay

The college application package has several components so that a prospective student can be evaluated on several levels. SAT stats show an aptitude for test-taking, grades reflect a student’s work ethic, recommendations speak of the student’s character, interviews demonstrate a student’s candor and communication skills, and resumes indicate how diverse the applicant is in work and extracurricular activities.

The final part of the application package is the essay. The essay is the student’s platform for speaking directly to the very people who control whether he or she will gain admittance without the pressure of a face to face interview. The essay, for this reason, is a very important component of the application process.

Before you begin writing you must put yourself in shoes of the people who are going to review your essay. These people will, over the course of several weeks and months, read hundreds of essays. After reading countless essays written by students showcasing their credentials (sadly, many essays reduce to this), admissions board members want something refreshing. There is nothing more refreshing than honesty.

Admissions members take pride in the academy they are associated with and tend to think of their college affectionately as a community, not simply a place where students take tests. When they are reading your essay they are unquestionably asking themselves if you would fit into the community. Essentially, they are deciding if they like you.

If you have spelling mistakes and your sentences have no flow you will not impress anyone, but it is what you say, and not the vocabulary words you use to say it, which counts. The essay is the make-or-break item for students having similar school room and extracurricular credentials; remember that admissions board members are human and will naturally be gravitated towards the more likable candidate.

How do you come across as likable? Here are some starters. Do not make your essay see-through. Spending six-hundred words patting yourself on the back does not fly with most admission boards. Board members look at your statistics and know that you have a 4.0 GPA do not include that in your essay.

Similarly, do not try to subtly litter your essay with accolades you’ve received in the past four years your resume if it is thorough, will have these. Long impressive words are great if you are a contestant for Jeopardy but not if you are trying to gain the approval of a panel of readers your readers should not have to have a thesaurus on their laps when they read your essay.

Do not tackle topics you are not entirely informed about or ones you think may bore your readers remember your job is to write skillfully and knowledgeable, but also to entertain, to excite, and to stand-out. Be humble in your essay but not overly humble false modesty in abundance can be as poisonous as egotism.

While it may sound overly-simplistic your best bet is to choose a topic that is really important to you. If you write about something close to your heart chances are you will be able to convey your point and emotions to the reader, and this pathos is exactly what you want.

A story about a struggle in your life can be a good subject, however, you need to steer clear from total sob stories, as board members will get many of these. If you have a remarkable, outstanding, or very usual story that you think has only happened to you, then you should write about it.

When you finally have an approach and you begin writing, keep in mind your ultimate goal: to produce a well-written, grammatically correct, and above all else, refreshingly poignant essay.

Honest and heartfelt (but not sappy) writing is the key to this goal. And remember that just because it is honest does not mean the essay can’t be witty, polished, and moving. Good luck.

Honest and heartfelt

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