Posts Tagged ‘college essay’

What Not to Write About in your College Essay, Part III

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Essay paper

Essay paper via Flickr: mrsdkrebs

Many college applicants write about someone who has influenced them, perhaps a relative, or a teacher, or someone they met through a community service program and built a friendship with. On the face of it, there’s no problem here. I mean, one of the essay choices on the Common App is “Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.” So why is this on the “What Not to Write About” list? The reason it’s on here is that all too often, these essays end up being am amazing story about…someone else. Your great-grandmother started her own successful farm during the dust bowl, and ended up adopting twenty children and becoming a well-known landscape painter? Fabulous. I would love to hear that story. Unfortunately, however, your grandmother isn’t applying to college, so unless that essay is more about you than it is about her, it’s not much good to you. This isn’t so much a “don’t” as a warning—if you choose to write about someone who has had a significant influence on you, don’t forget the second half of the essay prompt—the “describe that influence” part. Make sure that the essay is about how knowing that person shaped you into the person you are today. (more…)

What Not to Write About in your College Essay, Part II

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012
Admissions Essay

Admissions Essay

In a previous blog post we talked about some things that you should avoid in your college essay, these are things that you may be tempted to write about, but that for different reasons does not make a good topic for this essay, you can save some of these topics for self discovery papers that you are bound to write in English 101.  Here are a few more topics that we recommend you avoid in your admissions essay.

Sob Stories

Many people, teenagers included, have had tragic things happen in their lives that have changed the way they see the world, and influenced the way they choose to live. Students who have experienced tragedies often really want to use them as the topic of their college essays, but essays that deal with tragedies are very tricky. These essays can work, but be careful, and avoid these traps:

  • The Bid for Sympathy: Essays about tragic events, if they focus too much on the negative, can sometimes seem like sob stories, or bids for pity.
  • The Downer: College admissions officers are plowing through thousands of applications, and reading essay after essay. You want them to feel interested and excited to keep reading, not exhausted and ready to put down your application and reach for the tissues.
  • The Essay that Goes Nowhere: “Here is a terrible that happened to me” is not an essay about you; it’s an essay about the terrible thing. If you write about a difficult time or event, you also need to write about how you dealt with it, and what you learned from the experience. (more…)

What Not to Write About in your College Essay, Part I

Sunday, December 16th, 2012
College Admission Essay

College Admission Essay

None of these topics are ever 100% off-limits (well, except maybe for sex and drugs), but they are extremely difficult to write a college essay about in an effective and compelling way, so much so that we really think it’s not worth it. Consider yourself warned.

Sex and Drugs (you are allowed to write about Rock n’ Roll).

Writing about sex, drugs, or any other inappropriate topics in your college essay isn’t edgy, it’s disrespectful, and it shows that you’re someone who is thinking more about getting a reaction than about communicating something truthful and helpful to the admissions officer reading it. (more…)

Writing a College Essay

Friday, March 30th, 2012

What are some good tips to writing a successful school essay?

If you find yourself struggling with school essay assignments, and everyone does, there are some helpful guidelines you can follow to craft a successful essay. The first essay tip is simply to use all the time you are allotted. Most teachers will give you a few days to a week to work on a paper and you should use all that time. Your teacher is expecting you to.  Even if that means only thinking about the assignment at the beginning, you need to begin the intellectual process of crafting an essay as soon as you are given the assignment.

College Essay

College Essay

Make one point in your essay.  Every successful English paper or history paper is centered on a singular thesis. This isn’t to say you can articulate many ideas about a subject along the way, but the focus of your writing must be unitary for your ideas to cohere.  Once you’ve boiled your ideas down to a singular, central thesis, you can begin to plan your essay.

As I just said, plan your essay. Don’t start writing an essay in blind – make an outline.  Plan out everything you are going to say, in what order, and what supporting evidence you are going to use to back it up. You must chart the path of your argument to be sure you hit all your points in a coherent, logical flow. That way you can we sure your essay is as full as possible.

Make your essay as full as possible. Most assignments at school include a page expectation and you should aim for the maximum allowed. If an assignment expects a 5-8 page paper, deliver an 8 page paper. It’s a way you can show your teacher that you have fully developed an argument and maximized the allowed space to defend it.

Lastly, write multiple drafts. Only by editing and re-writing can you ensure that you are delivering a proof read, grammatically correct paper that is stylistically mature. All good writers edit their work intensely and create the most effective, clearest prose possible to persuade their readers of a particular thesis.

How to Write a Personal Statement for College

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

How should I approach writing my personal statement for college applications?

Writing great college admissions essays can be tricky—especially on top of juggling classes, extracurricular activities and SAT or ACT prep—and of all the admissions essays you’ll have to write, the dreaded personal statement will probably be the trickiest of all.  A written account of who you are as a student, an applicant, and a person – the personal statement can seem like one of the most intimidating parts of the entire college admissions process.

How can you sum up in a short essay everything there is to know about you?  How can you write a personal statement that will impress the admissions office, and will set your college application apart from the hundreds of other applications they’ll receive?

First, don’t panic.  If you give yourself plenty of time to write your personal statement, you’ll already be way ahead of the curve.  Make yourself a schedule, and stick to it.  This is definitely not something you want to put off until the night before it’s due.  By the end of September, at the very latest, you should have your first rough draft.  Since the personal statement is such an important part of your college application, you’ll want to write at least three drafts.  Don’t forget to give yourself enough time to get feedback from parents, teachers and mentors in between each version.

Second, avoid the temptation to write what you think the admissions officers will want to read, rather than a personal statement that accurately reflects who you are and what you’ve done.  You may think it’s a good idea to pepper your essay with adjectives like “hard-working” and “intelligent,” but qualities like these are notoriously subjective and tough to prove, and admissions officers see them in a lot of essays.  There’s a reason they call the essay a personal statement.  First and foremost, it should reflect who you are.

So what should you write?  The answer to that question is going to be different for each student.  The admissions officers want to know what make you tick, so keep it specific to who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and what you want to do.  What are you most passionate about?  What subjects do you find most interesting?  What activities excite you the most?  What specifically sets you apart from other college applicants?

If you follow this advice, you’ll be well on your way towards crafting a killer personal statement.