Getting accepted to just about any college or university continues to get harder as more and more people are applying for a limited number of spots. And most applicants agree that the college essay is both the most difficult and the most important part of your college application. So how can you improve your chances of getting accepted to the college of your choice? By writing an outstanding and dazzling personal essay. We have put together the following tips and hints to help you get started.
If you are given specific questions to answer in your essay or are dictated what the topic should be, read those requirements carefully. Reflect on them. Take time to think about what is being asked and let it really sink in before you brainstorm and start writing down your ideas.
Be yourself. Take time to think about what interests you. What do you enjoy talking about and learning about? What peaks your interest when it’s mentioned in class or on TV? Perhaps the biggest mistake applicants make is writing what they think others want to hear instead of about an issue, event, or person with personal significance in their own lives. An essay like that is both boring to write and boring to read.
What makes you unique? If you had the chance to stand in front of an admissions committee to share a significant story or important information about yourself, what would you say to them? The college essay is your chance to share your personality, goals, influences, challenges, triumphs, life experiences, or lessons learned. These are the stories behind the list of activities and leadership roles on your application.
After you’ve finished your first draft, sit on it for a day, then come back to it with fresh eyes. Once you’ve gotten far enough along to feel comfortable sharing it with someone, get a second opinion. Even professional writers and novelists ask other people to read their manuscripts before they’re sent to the publisher. Find someone you trust to give you honest advice on how to make it even better.
Choose a person you respect, such as a parent or friend or teacher. Ask them to tell you what they like best about your essay, and what they think you could do to improve it. Criticism of your writing can be tough to hear, but try to listen with an open mind. You don’t have to make every change they suggest. It’s your essay and no one else’s, but you should seriously consider each suggestion.
If you fear listening to others criticize your writing, ask them to write down their suggestions instead. Ask them to circle areas where they feel improvements could be made and to write down briefly what information they feel is lacking or confusing or unnecessary. Then, when you are ready, sit down in private with their notes and go through each one.
Remember, however, that you do not want too many people giving you feedback on your essay. Too much input often creates confusion and conflicting ideas. You don’t want your essay to sound like it was written by a committee. The key is to give them specific instructions about how you want them to give you feedback. Tell them what questions you want them to answer for you and what you want them to focus on while they read your essay. Otherwise you run the risk of having too many “chefs in the kitchen”.
Utilize these tips and hints in preparing for and writing your college application essay, and you will surely be on your way to a great essay you can be proud of.
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