Mastering the college admissions essay.
- You are preparing to enter a new phase of your life by applying to college, and ultimately becoming a young adult. You have experienced a life filled with childhood memories, educational milestones, family issues and world events. Now you're being asked to write an essay that will be read and judged by a panel of college admissions officers, and undoubtedly you are apprehensive. But here's what you need to realize - all they are looking for are those experiences written on paper, so it's a no-brainer!
- Key Influence: you may be asked to describe how the impact of a certain influence in your life has shaped you and made you a better person.
- Goal: you will be describing your goals and how they relate to your future, including academic, personal and career goals. If you can work in a correlation as to how the college you are writing the essay for falls into your plans, by all means write about it.
- Personal Growth: you will focus on specific things that have helped you grow and have shaped you through milestones, accomplishments and overcoming obstacles.
- Open-Ended: you will basically be asked to provide information that you would like the review committee to know. In this case your best bet is to write an essay based on one of the example topics discussed above.
- Creative: based upon the topic chosen, here you will have the freedom of expression. You may be asked to talk about a timely issue or perhaps why you have chosen a certain path for your future.
- Use positive wording and action phrases as well as an active voice. This will help engage your reader. Using the passive voice sounds redundant and too wordy.
- Pick a topic that will stand out from the thousands of other essays being reviewed. Examples: experience in a specific country, volunteer help that changed your life, etc.
- Talk about yourself and how your topic has been incorporated into your life. Relay any moments of growth, epiphanies and insight stemming from your topic.
- Don't be improper. Foul language, racism and topics that are too controversial can almost guarantee a rejection from the panel. Don't be too dramatic, either. Keep everything comfortable, yet steadily engaging.
- Don't just tell the panel what you think they want to hear. It's not about reiterating your entire academic career; they are looking to create a diverse student body and looking for you to explain how you will contribute to it as a knowledgeable person with a unique perspective. No one is exactly like you!
- Introduction: this should include your thesis statement, which will be your main idea that will be carried throughout your essay and will set the tone for what the reader is about to learn about you. Most importantly, make sure it is answering the question given to you.
- Body: The information in the body of your essay will support your thesis statement throughout. This is where your story will be told. Don't be too hasty to tell them everything - pace yourself and create a little suspense. The body should be at least two and up to four paragraphs in length.
- Conclusion: this will link together everything you have told the reader from the introduction and the body of your essay. This is a little tricky though; you are not expected to summarize your entire essay here. Instead, you are to be forward thinking as to how what you have discussed relates to your future, and should use the opportunity to introduce your finalizing idea and leave your reader with something to think about.
- Spell check! There is NO excuse for having typos in your essay, and the admissions officers will pick up on any misspellings and incorrect grammar immediately - and they won't be happy.
- Have someone else read your essay. Family, friends, teachers, advisors, the neighbor who is an editor for the local newspaper; make sure someone else reads your essay and comprehends clearly what you are conveying with your words. Be open to criticism, change all grammatical mistakes, but don't change the entire essay so that the voice is no longer yours.
- Revise. And after you've revised, revise again. Put your essay down for a couple of days and then revisit it. Look at it from a new perspective and get rid of all the wordy sentences, the pointless ramblings and the multitude of commas (unless they belong there). When you're done, revise it again. The end result will be a clean and concise essay.
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