Tips On Writing A Great College Application Essay
Your college application essay carries A lot of weight. In some cases, your essay can even be the tipping point when a school is on the fence about whether to accept you. If you’re a glass-half-empty kind of person, that sounds like way too much pressure. But if you’re a glass-half-full optimist, you’ll see it as an opportunity! After all, your essay is the one place you can really stand out from the crowd.
So how do you write a great application essay? We have some tips.
1. Answer the prompt question(s).
Colleges ask specific questions because they want to know more about you than just your grades and test scores. If you don’t answer the question, it sends a clear message that you can’t follow directions.
2. Stick to the rules.
Deadlines, formatting instructions and word limits are there for a reason. Imagine if every applicant wrote 1,000 words instead of the maximum 500.
Don’t be that person who thinks the rules don’t apply to them.
3. Tell your story.
If you can’t think of something that no one else could write about, at least put a unique spin on an experience. What was it like living in Peru without speaking the language? What went through your mind when you were diagnosed with lupus? You could also talk about times you failed, overcame challenges, helped others or demonstrated leadership.
4. Be creative (and maybe even funny).
Your application essay isn’t an English paper. As long as you answer the prompt, you can choose any format you want. Write a poem, a short story, a song or a screenplay. Don’t be afraid to use humor. It’ll stick out among a pile of serious essays.
5. Proofread. Proofread. Proofread.
Triple-check your work for spelling and grammatical errors. Read it out loud—slowly. Have someone else review the essay for mistakes and content, and ask them to read it to you so you can hear the flow. Perhaps most important, check that you’re using the correct school’s name in the essay, or you’ll be committing a surprisingly common faux pas.
6. Start planning your essay early.
Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither should your essay be written in one fell swoop. Start brainstorming early, taking notes, creating an outline and crafting a strong opening that will catch the reader’s attention immediately. Tie up the essay with a nice conclusion that really hits home. Ideally, you want the admissions team thinking about your piece long after they’ve finished reading it.
7. Convey your interest in the school.
Although it’s OK to use pieces of your essay for different schools, each submission should be tailored to that specific institution. Talk about why you’re applying, why you think you’re a good match and what you can bring to the institution that others can’t.
With some planning and strong writing skills, you can make your essay a true selling point for all the great things about you!