Weirdly, including painful memories and what you learned from them! Chances are, you also shared a mini-story that was interesting, entertaining and memorable. This college essay tip is by Janine Robinson, journalist, credentialed high school English teacher, and founder of Essay Hell , has spent the last decade coaching college-bound students on their college application essays.
Crafting an Unforgettable College Essay
I believe everyone has a story worth telling. Sometimes the seemingly smallest moments lead us to the biggest breakthroughs. No one is expecting you to solve the issue of world peace with your essay. Remember, this essay is about YOU.
The “By Zombies” Trick
What makes you different from the thousands of other applicants and their essays? Be specific. Use vivid imagery. This college essay tip is by Myles Hunter, CEO of TutorMe , an online education platform that provides on-demand tutoring and online courses for thousands of students.
My parents would have much preferred that I write about sports or youth group, and I probably could have said something interesting about those, but I insisted on writing about a particular fish in the pet store I worked at—one that took much longer than the others to succumb when the whole tank system in the store became diseased. It was a macabre little composition, but it was about exactly what was on my mind at the time I was writing it. I think it gave whoever read it a pretty good view of my 17 year-old self. I'll never know if I got in because of that weird essay or in spite of it, but it remains a point of pride that I did it my way.
This college essay tip is by Mike McClenathan, founder of PwnTestPrep , which has a funny name but serious resources for helping high school students excel on the standardized tests. Your admissions essay should go through several stages of revision. Ask your parents, teachers, high school counselors or friends for their eyes and edits. It should be people who know you best and want you to succeed. Take their constructive criticism in the spirit for which they intend—your benefit. The most obvious things make great topics.
What do I mean? Colleges want to learn about who you are, what you value and how you will contribute to their community. I had two students write about their vehicles—one wrote about the experience of purchasing their used truck and one wrote about how her car is an extension of who she is. We learned about their responsibility, creative thinking, teamwork and resilience in a fun and entertaining way. Don't tell them a story you think they want, tell them what YOU want. Of course you want it to be a good read and stay on topic, but this is about showing admissions who you are.
You don't want to get caught up in thinking too much about what they are expecting. Focus your thoughts on yourself and what you want to share. This college essay tip is by Ashley McNaughton, Bucknell University graduate and founder of ACM College Consulting , consults on applicants internationally and volunteers with high achieving, low income students through ScholarMatch.
A sneaky thing can happen as you set about writing your essay: you may find yourself guessing what a college admissions committee is looking for and writing to meet that made up criteria rather than standing firm in who you are and sharing your truest self. While you want to share your thoughts in the best possible light edit please! Show your depth.
Be honest about what matters to you. Be thoughtful about the experiences you've had that have shaped who you've become. Be your brilliant self. And trust that your perfect-fit college will see you for who truly you are and say "Yes! This is exactly who we've been looking for.
Admission officers can spot parent content immediately. The quickest way for a student to be denied admission is to allow a parent to write or edit with their own words. Parents can advise, encourage, and offer a second set of eyes, but they should never add their own words to a student's essay. This college essay tip is by Suzanne Shaffer is a college prep expert, blogger, and author who manages the website Parenting for College.
Don't just write about your resume, recommendations, and high school transcripts.
Admissions officers want to know about you, your personality and emotions. For example, let them know what hobbies, interests, or passions you have. Do you excel in athletics or art? Let them know why you excel in those areas. It's so important to just be yourself and write in a manner that lets your personality shine through.
This college essay tip is by College Basic Team. Find a way to showcase yourself without bragging.
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Being confident is key, but you don't want to come across as boasting. Next, let them know how college will help you achieve your long-term goals. Help them connect the dots and let them know you are there for a reason. This will not only help you stand out from other applicants, but it will also prepare you for the college interview ahead of time as well. As a former college admissions officer, I read thousands of essays—good and bad.
The essays that made the best impressions on me were the essays that were real. The students did not use fluff, big words, or try to write an essay they thought admission decisions makers wanted to read. The essays that impressed me the most were not academic essays, but personal statements that allowed me to get to know the reader.
I was always more likely to admit or advocate for a student who was real and allowed me to get to know them in their essay. So start instead with:. Skip the moral-of-the-story conclusions, too. Warm-up strategy: Read the first two sentences and last two sentences in a few of your favorite novels.
Did you spot any throat-clearing or moral-of-the-story endings? Probably not! Don't read the Common Application prompts. If you already have, erase them from memory and write the story you want colleges to hear. The truth is, admission reviewers rarely know—or care—which prompt you are responding to.
Did you know your essay makes up 25% of your college application?
They are curious to discover what you choose to show them about who you are, what you value, and why. Even the most fluid writers are often stifled by fitting their narrative neatly into a category and the essay quickly loses authentic voice. Write freely and choose a prompt later. Spoiler alert It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
This college essay tip is by Brennan Barnard, director of college counseling at the Derryfield School in Manchester, N. After you're done writing, read your essay, re-read it a little later, and have someone else read it too, like a teacher or friend—they may find typos that your eyes were just too tired to see. Colleges are looking for students who can express their thoughts clearly and accurately, and polishing your essay shows that you care about producing high-quality, college-level work.
Plus, multiple errors could lower your chances of admission. So take the extra time and edit! Take the pressure off and try free-writing to limber up. If you are having trouble coming up with what it is you want to convey or finding the perfect story to convey who you are, use prompts such as:.
I suggest handwriting versus typing on a keyboard for 20 minutes. Don't worry about making it perfect, and don't worry about what you are going to write about.
7 Pro-Tips for Writing a Great College Application Essay
Think about getting yourself into a meditative state for 20 minutes and just write from the heart. To get myself in a meditative state, I spend 60 seconds set an alarm drawing a spiral. Never let the pen come off the page, and just keep drawing around and around until the alarm goes off. Then, start writing.
Writing tips and techniques for your college essay (article) | Khan Academy
It might feel you didn't write anything worthwhile, but my experience is that there is usually a diamond in the rough in there Do this exercise for days straight, then read out loud what you have written to a trusted source a parent? Don't expect a masterpiece from this exercise though stranger things have happened. The goal is to discover the kernel of any idea that can blossom into your college essay—a story that will convey your message, or clarity about what message you want to convey.
Here is a picture of the spiral, in case you have trouble visualizing:. Adding feelings to your essays can be much more powerful than just listing your achievements. It allows reviewers to connect with you and understand your personality and what drives you. In particular, be open to showing vulnerability. Nobody expects you to be perfect and acknowledging times in which you have felt nervous or scared shows maturity and self-awareness.
This college essay tip is by Charles Maynard, Oxford and Stanford University Graduate and founder of Going Merry , which is a one-stop shop for applying to college scholarships. Be genuine and authentic. Your essay should be a true representation of who you are as a person—admissions officers want to read essays that are meaningful, thoughtful, and consistent with the rest of the application.