17 April 2010

The Secrets to Writing a College Essay

 Do You Want to Write a Killer Admission Essay?

Who doesn't?? Everyone needs to write a college essay as part of the application. This is in addition to the grades and test scores that all colleges request. The essay is very important because it sets students apart from others who would otherwise be equally qualified. The other big factor that sets people apart is activities outside of school, or extra curricular activities. For now I will focus on the essay because there are a few articles about extra curricular activities already on TeenCollegeEducation. You should read them.

What Are the Guidelines for an Application Essay?

Colleges all have different guidelines, but many of them use the Common Application form found on the Internet. It really makes their lives easier when reading so many applications. If you want to look at the specific Common App website then click on the link to check it out. It is not anything fancy. The common app gives students 6 choices on topics to write their essays about.

Option 1- Write about something significant in your life and its impact on you

Option 2- Write about a specific issue that you are concerned about

Option 3- Write about someone who is important to you and has influenced you

Option 4- (a lot like 3) Write about any character or person who has influenced you

Option 5- Write about your personal background and what you can offer a college

Option 6- Write about anything that you want

As you can see, the essay that students write for college is very broad, and especially with option 6 students can write about anything that they want. Colleges will read whatever you send them, but it is up to the students to make sure that what they send best represents them. Writing a few jokes is probably not a good idea for a college essay, because schools really want an ESSAY. They want to learn about you and make sure that you can write.

How Do You Write a College Essay?

You would write a college essay much like you would any other essay, especially considering your audience. Students are not writing to their friends via text message, so this essay MUST be formal and respectful. Make sure to use proper English, because the people reading these essays have been doing it for so long that proofreading errors really annoy them. Many people have lists of ways to write essays, but my 10 steps to write a college essay are:

1- Choose a topic.

2- Consider everything about this topic.

3- Ask Yourself: Will this essay allow me to best put myself on paper?

4- If your answer to 3 was "No", then repeat 1-3 until you get a "Yes."

5- Most people brainstorm, but I say just start writing. With computers you can just cut and paste or delete anything that you decide that you don't like later. The important thing is to get your ideas on paper. I wrote 7 different versions of my essay that I eventually combined into one.

6- Write.

7- Edit accordingly.

8- Reread your essay and again ask yourself: Does this essay represent me as best as possible?

9- Proofread for careless errors and reread.

10- Submit your masterpiece.

With these 10 steps you will be able to write a great essay and increase your chances of getting into the college that you want. The important thing is to remember to write what best represents you as a person. Students cannot do anything more than that.

Tips for your College Essay

Everyone has all sorts of tips to help them write essays. If you check Google you will find hundreds of websites dedicated to tips "guaranteed to get you into college." I am not saying that those tips are bad, but my tips are much simpler and easier to apply.

-Pick a topic that you are comfortable writing about and CAN write about. Make sure that you have a strong viewpoint on it and can use it to describe yourself.

-Ask yourself if you gave this paper to a friend to read if he or she would say it sounds like you. You want to sound like yourself in your essay, not some graduate professor with a PhD.


-Lastly ask yourself if this is the best that you can produce. Do not "settle" but keep working until you are completely satisfied with your work.

It is not impossible to write a college essay. Everyone is capable of doing it and everyone does do it, but what sets people apart is how much they care about it and how much effort they put into it. My biggest piece of advice that I will repeat again is: Be yourself on paper. Show your personality and why the college is stupid if it rejects you.

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Writing a College Essay is not easy but thanks to these tips I will do just fine. Thanks guys!

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