Writing A Great Admissions Essay
IF WRITING YOUR ADMISSIONS ESSAY puts you in a state of panic, you might need a new perspective.
Your college admissions essay is your chance to set yourself apart. This is your opportunity to sell the school on your amazing personality, your ability to overcome obstacles, and your unique characteristics. In other words, unless you got a perfect SAT score, straight A’s in every honors class and have great extracurriculars, the admissions essay can help you raise the appeal of your application package. Just follow these guidelines:
• Get personal. Don’t write about what’s happening across the globe unless it’s personally affecting you somehow (e.g. you visited the country and saw the suffering first-hand or your father served in a war zone). Granted you’re not the only person who has survived a chronic illness the death of a loved one or extreme poverty but you can put your own spin on the standard story. Instead of focusing on your role as a victim write about how you took back control of your life what you did to get through the most difficult times and how your life has been changed by the event. Schools aren’t going to admit you just because they feel sorry for you; they want to see that you can handle tough situations and grow from them.
• Get to the point. Depending on the school you won’t have that many words (maybe 250 to 500 words which is about one to two pages) to tell your story. A little mystery is OK at the beginning to keep someone reading but don’t make the admissions rep read through 300 words of background details before you get to anything interesting.
• Get specific. Think memoir not autobiography. Instead of writing about your entire life choose one or two meaningful events and then fill in the details. And while the essay questions or directions are usually broad be sure your essay is responsive to what’s being asked!
• Get a second opinion. Have someone (besides your mom who loves everything you write!) read your essay and give you honest feedback. A guidance counselor trusted teacher or even clergy may be able to point out where you rambled missed some detail or even chose the wrong topic.
• Get down from your pedestal. There’s a difference between showing and telling. Use your essay to show admissions officials how great you are through your past obstacles actions and demonstrated character traits rather than boasting about your generosity accomplishments or awards.
• Get a dictionary. Poor punctuation spelling slips or grossly inaccurate grammar has no place in a college admissions essay. Schools expect more from applicants in terms of knowledge and they also expect more in terms of effort. Check your work get a second reader and if possible have an English teacher review it.
Remember writing is a big part of college. Your admissions essay isn’t just about getting in; it’s also about showing the school you can keep up once you’re accepted.