Posts Tagged ‘college essays’

College Essay Tips

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

103060359_47Timmy is ready to write his college essay.  He switches on his laptop, loads a fresh digital Word document, inhales with the anticipation of being hit with an idea, and pauses… Nothing. That’s fine. He waits a little longer, tries closing his eyes; maybe the right topic will just jump out at him… Still nothing. YouTube begins to look friendly. And so the procrastination begins… (more…)

The Perfect College Essay

Friday, August 31st, 2012
College Essay

College Essay

One of the many tough aspects of applying to schools revolves around crafting your college admissions essay.  It’s a daunting project – distilling yourself into around five hundred words and appearing confident, honest, inquisitive, and open.  College admissions officers turn to the personal statement as a means to find out about the sides of applicants that can’t be found in the rest of their college applicationTranscripts, test scores, recommendations, and resumes only tell part of the picture and the admissions officers want to fill in the rest.

How to begin? The first and most crucial component of your college essay is the topic.  The process of selecting a topic can be agonizing.  The truth is that the truth always wins out. Write about an experience or issue that you really care about and have thought about.  There is no substitute for authenticity.  Never write what you think the admissions officers want to hear because inevitably your essay will come across as forced or hollow.

Don’t shy away from adversity.  Often times crafting personal essays around an issue or problem you have faced and dealt with can prove to be the most illustrative of who you are.  Admissions officers are looking for a perfect person, they are looking for the real you.  They want to see what kind of asset you will be to their community.

This isn’t a persuasive five paragraph essay.  Over the course of high school you have been trained to write well crafted persuasive essays. Essays that have a thesis, supporting paragraphs topped by topic sentences, and summational conclusions.  Your personal statement is not a place for this form.  You want to tell a story with your college essay and allow it to follow the logic of whatever topic you have selected.  The best colleges essays should follow naturally and seamlessly,

A great way to begin, once you have selected your topic for your personal statement, is with a compelling anecdote.  A story of something that has happened to you, told actively and in a way that places your reader right in the heart of the action, can be a real attention grabber for a college admissions officer.  Once you have their attention, you can begin to unpack all the ways this story is significant to you, or the ways it illustrates the themes you are tackling.

Above all, trust yourself. You know yourself better than anyone.  Every person you encounter, from your parents to your friends, from your teachers to your guidance counselors, will have a different idea of that they think you should right about for your college essay.  Only you can say what will be an active and engaging essay that says something about you.

Lastly, put yourself in the place of the reader.  You want to engage the admissions officers and make your writing active and descriptive.  Use juicy adjectives in your college essay that engages your reader with a real sense of whats happening, and use the active forms of verbs for maximum impact.

If you keep these hints in mind, and trust your gut, you can write a totally killer personal statement.

Writing A College Admissions Essay

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

How should I approach writing my college admissions essay?

Writing your college admissions essays can seem pretty overwhelming–especially when you’re trying to finish them on top of juggling a full class load, extracurricular activities, and SAT prep. On top of that, the personal statement (also known as simply “the college essay”) on the common application essay prompt is vague and open, which only increases the intimidation factor. Here’s the good news: nobody is asking you to prove that you’re the “perfect” applicant or the next great American writer.  College admissions officers just want to see that you can write a clear, engaging essay that reveals something about who you are as a person.

In other words, the college admissions officers who read your essay want to know who you are— not what you think they want to hear.  Don’t pepper your admissions essay with references to how you’re “hard-working” and compassionate,” or other “says who?” adjectives.  If you’re genuinely hard-working, that hard work is likely to lead to a higher GPA, and if you’re truly compassionate, it’s likely to have an impact on the types of extracurricular activities you pursue.

It’s always better to demonstrate positive qualities than to declare them on your college admissions essay.  You’ll also want to avoid clichés.  It’s not a great idea to write about how climbing a mountain made you realize that, with enough determination, there’s no obstacle you can’t overcome.  (Admissions officers have seen that one a lot.)  Another common college application essay relates how, through helping others (e.g., volunteering at a homeless shelter), you received unexpected benefits yourself (e.g., realized that money is less important than happiness.) Of course, if you have had a genuine experience climbing a mountain, or volunteering for the needy, and feel like you have a new perspective to offer, go for it.

Finally, don’t write your college admissions essay the way you would write a standard four-paragraph or five-paragraph essay, complete with introduction and thesis, two or three developmental paragraphs (each focused on a distinct, concrete example) and formal conclusion.  This format works well for an English paper or an SAT essay, but to write a first-rate college application essay, you’ll probably want to take a less formal approach.

Here’s the bottom line: show the college admissions officers what makes you tick.  Tell a story about a meaningful experience and how it changed you, or about the impact a teacher or mentor had on you.  Make your admissions essay so specific to who you are that it couldn’t possibly be written by anybody else.