Writing your college essay is one of the most important parts of your entire application. This can cause a lot of frustration for you, which is the last thing you want when you are working on something that can affect your future!
In writing your essay, you are not just writing a page full of words. You are sharing a part of yourself with people who will decide if you are a good fit for their school. This is not a time to slack off on your efforts. When you prepare to work on your college essay, there are many things that you need to keep in mind.
Look at the Requirements
Most colleges will have a set of guidelines that you must follow when you write your essay. It is important to make sure that you read their instructions carefully. The people reviewing your essay will be looking to make sure that you hit on all of their requirements in your essay.
There is likely a word limit that you need to abide by, so make sure that you do not go overboard. This length will be approximately two double-spaced typed pages.
Pick a Good Topic
Most colleges will give you a few different topic ideas to choose from. The topic that you choose will be a reflection on you, so choose a good one. You want to give the admissions team a real look at who you are but you don’t want to choose a hot-button topic that could have a negative impact.
Bad topics might be your sex life, past drug and alcohol use, jail time, political or religious rants, pity parties (woe is me), or your summer abroad. Choose a topic that you are confident about, something that you can turn into a “wow” essay.
Admissions people read through huge stacks of application essays. You need to find a way to spark their interest right away and make them see you as an asset to the college. Imagine what everyone else will be writing about and choose something else.
Many students will want to write about their summer in Europe and give a summary of all the things they did along the trip. These types of essays are, as they say, a dime a dozen. If you had a life-changing experience while you were on vacation, that is something to write about. Don’t gush about the Eiffel Tower- they’ve already read that essay. If, however, you volunteered in an orphanage or hospital over your vacation, then that is a topic to focus on.
An excellent college essay can be compared to a short story. Give the reader enough details that they will see and feel what you are saying. Give names to all the people you talk about and the places you go. These things will give your essay more depth, which makes the admissions officer feel that you care about their reading experience.
A college is a community, one of which you want to be a part. This essay is the glimpse into your personality that you are giving to the admissions team. They need to see you as a person that is great to be around, someone who they would enjoy having a discussion with on a daily basis. Find a way to communicate “This is me!” into your essay.
Proofread and Spellcheck
It might seem like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised at how many people forget to do a simple spellcheck on their writing. Any small typo that you fail to catch is a strike against you.
You will also want to have one or two people proofread your essay before you seal it up and send it off. Spellcheck won’t always catch mistakes. You need a person to look for any mix-ups between homonyms, such as there, their, and they’re. Common mistakes can be the difference between an excellent college essay and one that gets passed over.
Writing a great college essay is in everyone’s power. By following some simple guidelines, you can make sure that yours is one that gets the nod of approval from the admissions office.