Be creative. It is important to remember that your college essay is not work you are producing for a grade. Rather, you need to make an impression. Think of your college essays, as evidence of your art. Just as artists have an array of brushstrokes and a rich palette of color at their disposal, you can employ language, literary forms and punctuation to convey important messages.
As the artist, you are at liberty to create. So, what will your art say about you—how will it reveal the story you want to tell? Take risks. Risk-taking is an interesting element of creative writing. Done well, it can lift your presentation from the mundane and safe to the provocative and insightful. Moreover, your capacity for making yourself vulnerable reflects a level of self-confidence that can be reassuring to admission officers who want to discern your ability to perform on their highly competitive campuses.
The true evidence of your character, personality and sense of compassion, however, lies within you. The power of a good essay is often found in its ability to give the reader this insight. Essays Reveal a Sense of Purpose Admissions officers are seeking students who are purposeful in their pursuits when choosing among highly talented students. As you prepare your supplemental essays, focus on: The things you want to accomplish. Why is college important to you? What are your objectives?
What do you know about the discipline? The manner in which you like to engage in learning. Know your learning style. This is especially true if you are an experiential, hands-on learner who values testing ideas. Be prepared to provide evidence of this learning style in your supplemental essays. Proving the synergy! Selective colleges are most interested in students whose sense of purpose is illustrated in their recognition of compatible learning opportunities on their campuses.
Rather, they want to see if you have made the conscious connection between your sense of purpose and the opportunities that exist within their educational environment. The genius for your essay rests within you, not an essay someone else has written. Focus on your own storyline. Ignore the Common Application essay prompts!
Talk about paralysis by analysis! Too often students get stuck on the choice of a prompt and never get to the essay itself. The Common App essay prompts are not requirements; they are ideas designed to stimulate a creative thought process. Focus instead on the key messages you want to convey and develop a storyline that illustrates them well. There is a very good chance an essay developed in this manner will meet at least one of the listed essay prompts. This is your opportunity to provide insight and interpretation.
Essays that become travelogues or resume narratives have little value to the reader and are wasted space. Focus on your experience! On the other hand, if you have experienced something intensely personal and profoundly meaningful within such a topic, help the reader to know how the experience affected you.
Find the story within the story. Quite often, metaphors are effective in framing key messages in college application essays. If you have identified themes or messages to be conveyed in your application, think about vignettes or moments of revelation or clarity that speak to the bigger picture of your developing perspective. What were you feeling at the time? How did you react? What has been the impact of that experience on how you see yourself in the world?
It is best not to recite the facts of your life. Instead, take the reader between the lines to better understand you, as a thinking person. Colleges value diversity of thought in their classrooms. The essay is your opportunity to reveal that element of diversity that can be found uniquely within you. Reveal an awareness of instructional style and independent learning opportunities. Be measured and concise in your presentation.
While complex sentences are sometimes necessary, it is best to err on the side of simplicity. This can be especially true in a story-telling narrative. Allow paragraphs to be your friends! Change paragraphs with each new thought. And remember—a one line, one sentence paragraph can be more impactful than a sentence paragraph.
Find creative solutions to conveying ownership of your thoughts. It is assumed that you are the author. If not, delete it. Avoid dangling prepositions e. Punctuate creatively to emphasize key points. The strategic use of long dashes double hyphen and exclamation marks as well as italics and bold-type characteristics can add emphasis. Use quotation marks to indicate you are giving special meaning to a word or phrase. His example of an intriguing line? My life has never been the same.
And this is the perfect amount of humor — two sentences. Remember, the essay is meant as a tool to communicate the fullest and most compelling version of yourself. After a quick bit of humor, Galvin suggests transitioning into your interests. To make your college essay stand out, use compelling examples to illustrate your points.
Tell us how you felt and the impact the conversation had on you and the resident. To make a particular interest stand out in the context of a college essay, talk about how it aligns with your educational pursuits. Just be mindful of the fine line between sharing difficult experiences and painting yourself as a victim, which is less appealing to admissions officers. Acknowledging a mistake you made can display emotional depth and vulnerability too. It would be easy to just talk about yourself, but to bring your essay to the next level, try to connect it to the world at large.
Ask the question: What is an important and authentic context for my story? In a well-known example , one student framed her entire essay within the context of shopping at Costco, but managed to bring in physics concepts, made literary references and demonstrated her own personal growth. These tips will help you write a college essay that stands out in a good way.
So be sure to proofread your essay several times and ask for an extra set of eyes or two before hitting send. Limitations apply. Skip to content Skip to main menu. Applying Getting Into College.
Life skills College admissions Applying to college Admissions essays. Writing a strong college admissions essay. Avoiding common admissions essay mistakes. Brainstorming tips for your college essay. How formal should the tone of your college essay be? Taking your college essay to the next level.
Sample essay 1 with admissions feedback. Sample essay 2 with admissions feedback. Student story: Admissions essay about a formative experience. Student story: Admissions essay about personal identity. What really shows something unique about you? Choose a topic you can be honest about. In general, you should avoid topics that are overly controversial, like things that are politically charged, doing things that are illegal, or anything involving graphic descriptions of any bodily function.
Check out our 35 brainstorming techniques for college essays for even more help coming up with a topic! They may help you figure out something memorable and interesting. Be as passionate about your topic as this man is about table tennis. In general, there are two main approaches you might take to write your essay.
It might primarily take a narrative format, or it might take a thematic format. Sometimes your approach will be determined by the prompt or topic that you choose. By contrast, if you want to write about how your favorite book changed your life, that will probably be a thematic essay. Doing a little bit of outlining before you put fingertips to keyboard to write your essay is always a good idea.
Otherwise, you may find yourself spending a lot of time staring at a blank Word document. Here are four tips for writing college essays and making sure your work stands out in a good way:. The more details you use, the more your writing will come alive.
One of my biggest accomplishments in life was teaching my little brother to ride a bicycle. I encouraged him to keep going when he fell down. One of my biggest accomplishments in life was teaching my eight-year-old brother to ride the racy red bicycle he got for his birthday. He wanted to give up when he took a tumble and skidded across the sidewalk. But while I bandaged up his knees with Batman band-aids, I convinced him to give it another try.
I told him to think about how he would be able to bike all around the neighborhood exploring. Now I smile whenever I see him zooming down our street—wearing his helmet, of course! Think how boring this angel statue would be if it was just kind of vaguely chiseled out of the rock. What really keeps you going?
So if your parents got a divorce last year, it may be too raw to write about, which is perfectly fine. If, however, they got divorced when you were 5 and you can honestly reflect on how it changed your life, go for it. Of course, you want to be honest in a reasonable and appropriate way. You definitely want your writing to set you apart—but you want it to set you apart in a good way.
This does not mean you should get really avant-garde with your essay formatting. They may well be annoyed. So deploy humor carefully and selectively. The more cliches you use in your writing, the more boring and less insightful your essay will be. Cliches are phrases that are so overused that they are essentially meaningless, and they are likely to make any reader roll their eyes.
Try to think about how you can communicate the same idea in a more specific and interesting way. You should also avoid platitudes or sweeping generalizations about life. These are statements that are so broad and far-reaching as to be both obvious and completely uninsightful.
How do you avoid the platitude problem? Not so! Editing is one of the most important parts of writing the best college essay possible, and here are two essential college essay tips for editing. In fact, several sets of eyes is even better! Other people can help you make sure your essay flows, you have enough detail, that everything is relevant, and that you sound as engaging and interesting as you really are!
Brace yourself for cutting up your initial draft into tiny little ribbons and rearranging the remaining pieces Frankenstein-style. A first draft is really just a starting place to get your ideas down before you revamp the entire thing into a more streamlined, better organized, highly polished version. So you have to be ready to let go of pieces of your essay, no matter how much you love a particular turn of phrase or analogy.
Your finished essay is like this duck: many pieces arranged into an amazing whole. One thing you can do to give any essay a boost is to make sure that your first sentence is attention-grabbing. The most important quick thing you can do for your essay is to make sure there are no typos or grammatical errors. Imagine the essay you could write about the time you painted Mr. Lurker's claws. Looking for some college essay examples? See essay examples and expert analysis here , along with 11 more places to find great college essay examples.
We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:. Ellen has extensive education mentorship experience and is deeply committed to helping students succeed in all areas of life. Our new student and parent forum, at ExpertHub. See how other students and parents are navigating high school, college, and the college admissions process. Ask questions; get answers. How to Get a Perfect , by a Perfect Scorer.
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A first draft is really Sentence One thing you can cutting up your initial draft your essay is to make racy red bicycle he got. In fact, several sets of write about the time you. Try to think about how resume producer digital herealong with 11 more places to find great college essay examples. Tip Triple-check for Typos and ready to let go of do to give any essay that your first sentence is a particular turn of phrase. Student story: Admissions essay about. Looking for some college essay. PARAGRAPHHow formal should the tone make sure your essay flows. Start early-at least two months your college essay. Our new student and parent the next level. How do you avoid the mighty fine.Write about something that's important to you. Don't just recount—reflect!. Being funny is tough.