Nearly all colleges and universities require applicants to submit a college application essay. However, the thought of writing an essay makes many college-bound students break into a nervous sweat. After all, a poorly written essay is enough to cause students with stellar grades to be rejected from their top choice universities. Below are some useful tips for writing a college essay to help you through this crucial aspect of successfully applying to college.
1.) Write Your Own Essay
While this bit of advice may be obvious, it is important that you write your own essay. Although it is okay to get some outside help in editing your essay, some applicants will have one of their parents or a professional essay writing service write their essay for them. When you submit your essay, like with all college coursework, it is assumed that it is your own personal work, and there could be long-term repercussions down the line if your misrepresentation were to be discovered.
2.) Don’t Just Repeat Your Resume
Writing a college admissions essay about your academic accomplishments and the extracurricular activities you are involved in will read like a list and bore admissions officers. Not only is your college application essay a chance to expose your personality beyond your test scores and resume, it is also an opportunity to tell a story that helps you stand out from other applicants. For example, you could talk about a very difficult time in your life and how you overcame it. This tells admissions officers a lot more about who you are as a person than a list of achievements.
3.) Make Sure You Answer the Essay Question
This college essay writing tip may also seem like a no-brainer, but a lot of students find it difficult to talk about themselves. In writing your college essay, you might start out answering the question but get off track along the way. Before you begin your essay, make a brief outline of the points you would like to convey, so that you can ensure that you have fully answered the question.
4.) Write About Yourself, Not a Hero
College admissions officers want to get to know the person behind the transcript, and your essay gives you a chance to reveal who you are. Many college admissions officers warn applicants against writing about a hero in their lives, because it often does not tell admissions officers enough about the applicants themselves. For example, if you write about how big of an influence your mother has been in your life, a college admissions officer would only learn about your mother and not you.
5.) Keep it Clear and Concise
A great college essay does not have to be long. Admissions officers have to go through a stack of applications every day, so they expect to spend only a couple of minutes reading each essay. If your essay is over the set word requirement, you run the risk of losing their interest—some admissions officers may not even finish reading.
6.) Toss the Thesaurus Aside
Do not use a thesaurus to write your admissions essay. If you use the synonyms of a word incorrectly in your essay, you are not impressing anyone. Be true to your own writing style, and stick with words that you normally use so that your essay is readable.
7.) Don’t Reuse Your Essay
Your personal statement is not a one-size-fits-all essay. Each college will ask you to respond to different essay questions. While some parts of your essays may be applicable to a variety of questions, it is important that you tailor your overall answer to each school.
8.) Check for Errors
Although it goes without saying that a college application essay should be error-free, plenty of applicants submit essays riddled with grammatical and spelling mistake. Run your essay through spell check and ask someone with strong editorial skills to review it.
9.) Showcase Your Writing
Lastly, make sure that your essay showcases your writing ability. Part of your success in college relies on strong writing skills, which is why it is essential to ensure that you submit your best work.
Your college application essay reveals something important about you that your transcripts and standardized test scores cannot—who you are as a person. An application essay also illustrates your writing skills. At selective colleges and universities, essays carry even more weight since, on paper, applicants are all very similar in terms of their academic achievements and extracurricular activities. If you want to craft a winning essay that gets you into your top-choice colleges, follow the above college essay tips.