Have you been putting off writing your college admission essay? It can seem to be a daunting task. But your essay is actually an opportunity for you to shine. Now is your chance to show them the real you, the one that can’t be revealed by a transcript and test scores. So stop procrastinating and use these helpful guidelines to write a college essay that stands out from the rest.
Surely, you hear this all the time, but it’s worth repeating. Much as you would like to put off that essay until the end, your task will be much easier if you allow yourself plenty of time. The last thing you want to do is to produce a “good-enough” essay that does not reflect your true abilities because you are rushing to finish on time.
Stand Out from the Crowd
Remember that college admissions officers are reading hundreds of essays within a short period of time. Many of these essays are very much alike, which can make for boring reading. Showcase the real “you” with some memorable details. Write about an event or a person that is meaningful to you personally. Try opening with a humorous or poignant story in order to get the reader’s attention. Whatever you do, avoid topics that everyone else is covering in their essays. Imagine how boring it would be to read ten essays about all the times students scored the winning goal or basket in the big game. As a general rule, if it’s boring to write about, it will also be boring to read.
Strive to use your own unique voice in your writing. In other words, write the same way you talk. That means avoiding the use of a formal or business tone or impressive language to show off your vocabulary. There are other places in the application to do that. Also choose a topic because it matters to you, not just because you think it will matter to the people reading it. Whatever the topic is, your essay will stand out more if you are able to write about it in a compelling way.
Tell the Truth
College admissions officers are experts in detecting any hint of plagiarism. Don’t expect to fool them by tweaking a cute story that you read online or using part of someone else’s essay. They won’t fall for that. Also, avoid any fictitious stories in which you pretend to have had a particular experience. They will see through your false and forced tone that the story isn’t authentic.
Narrow Your Focus
Avoid using the essay as a place to list all your accomplishments. The rest of your application will showcase these. If you try to include all of your achievements and activities in your essay, it will end up sounding like a list or a resume. Instead, choose one topic that interests you and stick with that theme. This is an opportunity to go into detail about one aspect of yourself that doesn’t shine through in the rest of your application.
You will need to run a spell check, but don’t rely on that alone. There are many errors that a spell check may miss. It’s a good idea to ask other people (teachers, parents, or friends) to help you with proofreading. Sometimes when you are very familiar with a text, you can miss minor errors.
Keep It in Perspective
It’s very rare that a college admissions essay will “make or break” someone’s application. Rather, it is just one piece of a large, comprehensive picture. Do the best you can but don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
So now get out your paper or your laptop and get to work! Take advantage of your chance to let them see the fabulous real “you” hiding behind the transcripts and test scores.