These 10 Tips for Writing a Great College Admission Essay will give you an advantage over the competition, and help relieve the stress of procrastination.
There is one thing to remember before you start writing that essay: it’s your chance to shine and make a first impression. While that fact creates some pressure, it also gives you an opportunity to explore the format in a unique way. The tips below not only will help you land that spot at your dream school but also give you useful tools for your future college classes.
1. Start Early
The challenge can seem daunting , and that’s exactly why you have to face it as soon as possible. An admission essay doesn’t have to take too long. You may wrap it up in a few hours, but you may also spend days staring at a blank page. Create a creative and quiet workspace and set aside large blocks of time to complete the task.
As the application deadline approaches, you do not want to risk the added pressure of waiting until the last minute. Of course, as a last resort option, you can call on an essay service , but you should still give yourself enough space to complete the paper before asking for help.
2. Start with Brainstorming
Brainstorming is a process that forces you to give all ideas a chance. Take a piece of paper and write down every single idea that comes to your mind. Research online different topics and ideas that interest you and expose you to new ideas.
Once you have created a lengthy list of ideas , funnel through and map out how the essay would look with the best ones among them. One unique idea is to combine a couple of varied ideas on your list into one major discussion topic, either comparing or contrasting the two. Once you pick your best approach, the hardest part is over and it will be easy to write a creative, unique essay.
3. Don’t Mention Your Grades
You want to stand out among the rest of the applicants, as well as provide new information that the admission officers do not already know about you. They will know what GPA you have before they start reading the essay as it’s one of the details they get with the application. Mentioning the GPA in your essay will sound like bragging and be uninteresting.
The essay is your opportunity to share a personal experience that the numbers and lists on the application don’t convey. Share a story about your life, a struggle that you have overcome, special skills and how you have used them to contribute to your education. Your personality is more valuable than your GPA, etc.
4. Answer the College Application Essay Question
If you’re using the Common App to apply for college, you’ll need to answer a specific prompt in the essay. The topics are broad enough to fit any experience of yours. For example: “Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?”
Although the questions are quite flexible, you need to answer the chosen prompt very precisely. Don’t go off topic! Again, answering this question with a twist that shows your personal story or life experience will give your essay more color and stand out among the others.
5. Share a Personal Experience
There is only one recipe for admission essay writing that never fails: share a compelling personal experience that shows how you’re ready to build your future in this school. You can always lean into how you have always been of fan of the school sports team, or it’s been a family tradition to attend this school. Most schools love nostalgia and personal connections to their university.
Or you can focus on what your field of study will be. If, for example, you want to choose literature for your major, you can talk about a vivid memory from your childhood: your grandfather telling your favorite story, and the way that connection affected your life choices and led you to this college.
6. Don’t Try Too Hard
You want to come across as a smart person who knows how to write. That doesn’t mean you should take the dictionary and start looking for big words to use. This essay shouldn’t sound like it was written by Shakespeare. It should present you as a down-to-earth person who can convey a clear message.
Use strong, clear sentences with simple words. Think about your audience and rather than providing unnecessary wording for the sake of seeming smart, impact your readers more with your imagery and storytelling.
7. Grab the Reader’s Attention with the First Sentence
If you run into a blog post with an interesting headline and then read a boring first sentence, what do you do? You search for a better way to spend your time. That first sentence is just as important in admission essays. Just as in newspaper editing, the first sentence should provide a quick summary of what your essay will be about, and any important details to grab attention.
Some ideas will be starting with an anecdote, a quote, or a memory. Whatever you do, make sure the first sentence triggers the reader’s curiosity to find out what your essay is all about.
8. Don’t Send the Same Essay with Multiple Applications
The admission essay should show how you’re the right fit for that particular school. Every college has a culture that they are very proud of. With this paper, you show how you were meant to be part of that environment. You can always stick to a similar topic with each essay but tailor it to the school.
A way to do this is to do your research. Learn about the school, their student climate, sports teams, values, awards and recognitions. You can always start with their social media accounts, Facebook, Twitter, etc. With that information, the paper could be relevant to the school’s mission and values. So yes, you’ll have to write a different admission essay for every school you apply to.
9. Be Yourself
There’s no need to pretend to be someone you’re not. You can be passionate in your writing only when you relate it to your personal values and experience. The passion will shine through, and you can rest assured that the admission officers will know when it’s genuine.
Be proud of what is unique about you, and feel comfortable telling your story to the admission officers.
10. Don’t Forget to Edit!
Editing and proofreading is the most important and final step that could be damaging if forgotten. Check the word count and make sure it fits into the requirements. Then, make sure every sentence makes sense, and every thought is fully developed. Lastly, of course, check spelling.
If you need help with the editing, ask a friend or hire a professional editing service.
These 10 Tips for Writing a Great College Admission Essay should be simple and helpful that you can take with you in your college and professional life. And remember the first and likely the most important tip. Start early. Start today! It’s not smart to waste your time. Follow the tips above and you’ll boost your chances to write an impressive admission essay on time!
Julie Petersen is an English tutor and the founder of educational blog askpetersen.com. In her articles, she shares educational and career tips for students.