5 College Application Essay Tips

laptopWriting a personal essay for your college application may feel daunting.  After all, you’re being asked to “sell yourself” with your own words, which is probably something you don’t have much experience with.  Here are five tips to help you put together a stellar essay.

  1. Be yourself. The folks at the college admissions office have read more than their share of student essays.  They know what sounds genuine, and they know what sounds phony.  When writing an essay, never try to sound like what you think you should sound like.  Be yourself– you best self, of course, but always yourself.
  2. Be original. The people reading these essays have read an awful lot of essays about Spirit Week, student volunteer work, and typical student experiences.  To make your essay stand out from the crowd, write about an experience or two that is unique to your own experiences.   Did you overcome some kind of difficult experience in your life?  Did you visit someplace not everybody goes?  Be creative.  And yes, even if you feel like you’ve led a perfectly average existence, if you think hard enough you’ll realize that you’ve done something unique and noteworthy.
  3. Be specific.  When writing any kind of essay (including an essay for a class), it’s important to talk about specific experiences instead of general ones.  Otherwise, your essay could be writing by anyone, as opposed to you.  Instead of writing, “My parents are immigrants, and I learned a lot about hard work from them,” explain in detail specifically what you learned about hard work from them.  Tell stories of things they did that demonstrated their work ethic and what you learned from these.
  4. Be a good match. If you are filling out the Common App, obviously you can’t specifically explain why you’re a good fit for each specific college.  But if you’re applying to a specific school that doesn’t use the Common App, be sure to explain why you are a good match specifically for that school.  This requires a little basic research, as you need to know the school, their values, and what they offer.  There’s two ways to demonstrate that you’re a good match. First, explain why the school is right for you. You do that through statements such as, “I want to study marine biology, and I know you have one of the top ranked programs in the country.”  Second, explain what you could personally contribute to the school.  This is much harder, but if you can do this, it really helps!
  5. Proofread and polish. Would you go to a job interview with a big stain on your shirt, or with dirt all over your face?  Of course not.  And typos and grammatical errors in your essay make an equally bad impression.  To make sure your essay is flawless, get someone (or several someones) to look it over carefully–a parent, a guidance counselor, a brainy older sister, or anyone with a good sense of language.  Don’t just rely on spell check–it’s a good start, but it isn’t enough.

For other tips see https://writingdone.com/college-essay-writing.html

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