It’s that time of year again. High school students are desperately looking for ways to be accepted by schools of their dreams. College application season is in full swing.
One of the most effective tactics is to ace your application essay. In trying to achieve this goal, you may have many questions. How can you make your essay stand out? What do you include, and which parts of your biography do you exclude? What does the admission committee want to read in your essay?
You should just stay calm and consider the following 21 proven tips that will help with your college essay.
Tip 1: Discuss a Subject You Care About
An interesting topic is essential for success. When deciding what to write about, avoid wasting time trying to guess what topic may delight the committee. You should focus on your own interests. On one hand, it is almost impossible to predict the mood and preferences of an admission officer. On the other, you will likely spend days crafting your application paper. To reduce stress, choose a topic that sparks your curiosity.
Tip 2: Follow Instructions
The next step is to read the instructions of a particular institution. Be sure to pay attention to the requested word count and range of topics.
Tip 3: Brainstorm
The idea is always fundamental. When you already know your topic, try to generate ideas related to it. Create conditions for effective brainstorming: sit by yourself in a room, set the timer, and generate as many ideas as possible within a set period of time.
Tip 4: Answer the Question “Why You?”
In short, your application paper should make it obvious to the admission officer that the college should accept you.
Tip 5: Answer the Question “Why This School?”
Customizing your essay for every school you’re applying to is a simple, yet effective trick. If you’re going to send the same paper to several colleges, change this one paragraph. It may convince the readers that their school is your top choice.
Tip 6: Sound like Yourself
Your college essay can help you show who you are as a personality. It’s a way to have a distinct voice behind your official faceless documents. Share your vision and your unique views. If you reread your essay and hear the voice of your mother or your teacher at some point, rewrite that part.
Tip 7: Write What They Want to Read
Imagine you could talk to the committee in person. What would you tell them? Imagine the perfect candidate who would be accepted. Determine if you have any of the desired qualities and emphasize them.
A perfect candidate profile:
Tip 8: Be Honest
At the same time, avoid distorting reality just to get accepted. Your sincere voice and a personal vision are much more important than any exaggerated or nonexistent difficulties or achievements you may want to add to your autobiography.
Tip 9: Keep It Simple
Most admission officers agree that students should not worry about complex sentences and sophisticated language. Simply expressing your point of view and highlighting your perspective is a better idea.
The following tips from Orwell may help bring your college essay to the next level in terms of grammar and readability:
- Avoid clichés; never use a metaphor, simile, or any other figure of speech that is overused in print.
- Never use a long word if a short one will do just as well.
- Eliminate excess wording.
- The active voice is better than the passive.
- Never use a foreign word or scientific jargon if an everyday English word can be used instead.
Your primary goal is to have the admission officer read your essay, which is why keeping it simple and easy to read is so important.
Tip 10: Review Effective Essays
Learning from examples is easy and straightforward. Read college essays that helped students be accepted by their selected colleges in previous years:
Tip 11: Write a Nice Introduction
A strong introduction that grabs the reader’s attention is essential. Such hooks include:
- A story
- An anecdote
- A striking fact
- A confession
Tip 12: Write 3 Sections
Although creativity has its place in your application essay, you should stay with the classical structure:
- Introduction (including a thesis statement)
- Main body (several sections)
Tip 13: Don’t Try Too Hard
Trying to be too creative can have negative consequences. Just relax, be yourself, and present your unique perspective to the committee.
Tip 14: Write and Rewrite
Depending on your personal writing style, you may want to start by writing a couple of sentences for each section and then expand on these later. Or you may write down everything that crosses your mind and then edit and eliminate the redundant parts later.
Tip 15: Proofread
Invest time in eliminating style and grammar errors. Be sure to pause after you finish writing and before you start editing your draft.
Tip 16: A Second Pair of Eyes
After proofreading, ask someone to look at your personal statement. You can invite your parents, siblings, or friends, but this person should know you well and have good writing skills.
Tip 17: Eliminate the Odd Parts
If you reread your college essay and start to yawn at a certain point, don’t hesitate to rewrite or even delete this part. If your own writing bores you, the admission officer won’t enjoy reading it either.
Tip 18: Make It Neat and Accurate
Don’t include photos or graphs, and be sure your essay is neatly formatted and easy to read.
Tip 19: Be Original
Try to read your essay through the eyes of the admission committee. Try to think of the commonplace stories they read in most essays and avoid repeating them.
Tip 20: Take Risks
Bearing in mind the possible side effects, consider risky options of attracting attention if necessary. An example of such an approach would be to make some unexpected confession or be a bit too sincere in your personal statement.
Tip 21: Relax and Wait
After you’ve done everything possible to polish your paper, sit back and relax. At this point, you can’t influence the outcome. Hope for the best and the acceptance letter may arrive before you even start to worry.