College Essays: A Chance To Tell Your Own Story, In Your Own Words
The college essay is a unique part of the application process. It is a piece of writing that could potentially change your life - which should motivate you to want to write as well as possible! Colleges across the USA receive thousands of admission essays every year, and it is an overwhelming job for the admissions officers to read all of them. If you can write a powerful essay that is captivating, descriptive and emotionally engaging for the reader, you will stand out from the crowd.
But how do you write a knockout essay? What can you do to establish yourself as someone the university wants to welcome into its student body? We've got some tips for you to look at before you start writing, and these ideas will help you craft the perfect college essay - one that can get you into the university of your dreams.
1. What Matters To You?
The most important thing is to write something that impacts you - not something that you think the admissions office will like. You need to reflect on how the experience changed you - simply recounting it is something anyone can do. Talk about how it played out in your life, and what you learned from it. In a similar way, ditch the thesaurus and aim instead for a sophisticated piece that vividly displays the ideas you feel are most important to the story.
2. No Repeats
The essay should not contradict what is contained in the rest of your application - whether that is marks, extracurriculars, achievements, or even recommendations from teachers or peers. Nor should it repeat anything already in your application - the essay is not a space to list your awards. Rather, use the space to talk about something that makes you unique - the essay should tell the most important story about you that the rest of your application cannot.
3. Start Early and Write Several Drafts
With something this important, it's crucial to spend enough time thinking about it and making sure you've put the best version of the story down. Start with a brainstorm - put down topics and points you can write about, and the ideas you want to convey. After you've written a first draft, set it aside for a couple of days, and then read it again. Try to put yourself in the place of the admissions officers who will be reading it. Does it reveal something about you? Is it clear in its intent and purpose? Does it actually answer the prompt you were given?
4. Have Someone Check Your Essay
It is always best to get other peoples' eyes on your essay. Outside perspective is most helpful when trying to ensure your essay flows logically, and your points are clear and well-made. For this, a teacher or adult is your best bet - but if you have willing friends and family members, that's great too. Make sure to get everyone to check your grammar and sentence structure - and remember to be open to suggestions and constructive criticism. Taking other peoples' thoughts on board is one of the best ways to improve a piece of writing - just make sure not to edit your own perspective out of it!
5. Read the Success Stories
You can find tons of successful college essays online - sit down and read ones that have gotten people into their dream schools. You'll probably be at least a little bit surprised by their content - they are pieces of people, not award-winning novels. You want your story to be the one the admissions committee can't put down. Once you find a topic that you care about, writing the essay should come easily - it should come from a place of passion.
College essays shouldn't be overwhelming. Like all good things in life, you need to dedicate time to it. Remember, admissions officers want to get to know who you are, so don't think you should focus on what's already been told.
“No one can tell your story, so tell it yourself. No one can write your story, so write it yourself.”
To all students: we wish you the best of luck in your upcoming application essays. Good luck!
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