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Even this little kid is a better Santa than Will was. As I mentioned above, colleges want to know that you are a strong enough writer to survive in college classes. Can you express your ideas clearly and concisely?

These kinds of skills will serve you well in college and in life! Nonetheless, admissions officers recognize that different students have different strengths.

Here's the Deal with College Admissions Essays...

Honestly, they aren't expecting a masterwork from anyone , but the basic point stands. Focus on making sure that your thoughts and personality come through, and don't worry about using fancy vocabulary or complex rhetorical devices. Above all, make sure that you have zero grammar or spelling errors. Typos indicate carelessness, which will hurt your cause with admissions officers.

Now that you have a sense of what colleges are looking for, let's talk about how you can put this new knowledge into practice as you approach your own essay. Below, I've collected my five best tips from years as a college essay counselor. One of the most important parts of the essay writing process is editing, and editing takes a lot of time. You want to be able to put your draft in a drawer for a week and come back to it with fresh eyes. You don't want to be stuck with an essay you don't really like because you have to submit your application tomorrow.

You need plenty of time to experiment and rewrite, so I would recommend starting your essays at least two months before the application deadline. For most students, that means starting around Halloween, but if you're applying early you'll need to get going closer to Labor Day. Of course, it's even better to get a head start and begin your planning earlier.

Business School Essay Samples - Essay Writing Center

Many students like to work on their essays over the summer when they have more free time, but you should keep in mind that each year's application isn't usually released until August or September. Essay questions often stay the same from year to year, however. If you are looking to get a jump on writing, you can try to confirm with the school or the Common App if the essay questions will be the same as the previous year's. One of the biggest mistakes students make is trying to write what they think the committee wants to hear.

The truth is that there's no "right answer" when it comes to college essays — the best topics aren't limited to specific categories like volunteer experiences or winning a tournament. Instead, they're topics that actually matter to the writer. Because to be perfectly honest, right now what really matters to me is that fall TV starts up this week, and I have a feeling I shouldn't write about that. You're not wrong although some great essays have been written about television. Instead, try to be as specific and honest as you can about how the experience affected you, what it taught you, or what you got out of it.

For example, maybe it was a ritual you shared with your brother, which showed you how even seemingly silly pieces of pop culture can bring people together. Dig beneath the surface to show who you are and how you see the world. When you write about something you don't really care about, your writing will come out cliched and uninteresting, and you'll likely struggle to motivate. When you write about something that is genuinely important to you, on the other hand, you can make even the most ordinary experiences — learning to swim, eating a meal, or watching TV — engaging.

As strange as it sounds, SpongeBob could make a great essay topic. Don't try to tell your entire life story, or even the story of an entire weekend; words may seem like a lot, but you'll reach that limit quickly if you try to pack every single thing that has happened to you into your essay.

Instead, narrow in on one specific event or idea and talk about it in more depth. The narrower your topic, the better. Whatever your topic, use details to help draw the reader in and express your unique perspective, but keep in mind that you don't have to include every detail of what you did or thought — stick to the important and illustrative ones. Instead, try to be yourself.

The best writing sounds like a more eloquent version of the way you talk. To do so, avoid the urge to use fancy-sounding synonyms when you don't really know what they mean. Contractions are fine; slang, generally, is not. Don't hesitate to write in the first person. To be clear, editing doesn't mean just making a few minor wording tweaks and cleaning up typos; it means reading your essay carefully and objectively and thinking about how you could improve it.

Ask yourself questions as you read: is the progression of the essay clear? Do you make a lot of vague, sweeping statements that could be replaced with more interesting specifics? Do your sentences flow together nicely? You will have to delete and rewrite potentially large parts of your essay, and no matter how attached you feel to something you wrote, you might have to let it go. At some point, you might even need to rewrite the whole essay.


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Even though it's annoying, starting over is sometimes the best way to get an essay that you're really proud of. If you're in need of guidance on other parts of the application process , take a look at our guides to choosing the right college for you , writing about extracurriculars , deciding to double major , and requesting teacher recommendations. Last but not least, if you're planning on taking the SAT one last time , check out our ultimate guide to studying for the SAT and make sure you're as prepared as possible. Tie it all together at the end. A powerful closing statement is just as important as a good opener.

Look for a way to connect the ending of your essay to the themes you presented at the beginning. Use a few sentences to make a final point that underscores your main theme without repeating what you've already said. For example, maybe you started your essay by talking about how a teacher inspired your love for a particular subject. You might end by sharing something meaningful that that teacher said to you, or briefly summarizing how you grew as a person after taking their class. Give yourself some space. After you've drafted your essay, walk away from it for a while.

This could be for a few hours or a few days. Once you come back to it, it can be easier to see where it needs editing, what you can keep, and what just doesn't work.

500-Word Essay vs. 250-Word Essay

After writing it, you'll have a better idea of what you actually wanted to say. It will be obvious after some time away where you're saying what you mean and what areas need work. Proofread your essay. Once you've drafted your essay, reread and edit it more than once. Read your essay first to make sure that it says exactly what you want it to say. Then read it again for spelling and grammar errors. Asking a teacher, parent, or older sibling is probably the best way to go, since they might be more familiar with what's expected from college admissions essays.

Write succinctly. Make sure that your essay does not exceed the maximum word and page length. This might mean cutting out whole sentences or it might mean using fewer words to say the same thing. If you have trouble with this, ask a friend to check your writing for unnecessary words.

Writing the Successful College Application Essay: Tips for Success

For example, instead of saying "I want to tell you about the process I went through to decide to become a doctor," you could say, "I want to share how I decided to become a doctor. When you're drafting your essay, you may end up adding things you didn't originally plan on. Go through your essay and make sure these points serve the main purpose of your essay.

If not, take them out. Vary your vocabulary.

How to Write a College Admissions Essay

Don't use the same words over and over in your essay. If you find you're repeating the same words, use it. Different words have different connotations, and not every suggestion from the thesaurus will have the exact meaning you're looking for. Kairavi Anjaria. Start your essay with a good quote or a statement that reflects your whole theme perfectly. Make sure you write real experiences and do not make up stories. Yes No. Not Helpful 2 Helpful 4. How do I shrink down an admissions essay without it sounding foolish?

There are always ways to shrink something down. Take out a few unnecessary sentences, use an online tool, there are many resources. Not Helpful 1 Helpful 1. Word counts depend on the college or university in question. Most colleges require around to words. Not Helpful 3 Helpful 0.

Are There Colleges Which Prefer Longer Essays?

Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Already answered Not a question Bad question Other. By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube. Related wikiHows. Article Summary X To write a college admissions essay, start by coming up with one or two life experiences related to the prompt. Did this summary help you?

Article Info This article was co-authored by Alexander Peterman. Then read the options carefully and decide which topic s provides the best opportunity to portray your self in a desirable manner. If the application requires more than one essay, select distinct topics and subject areas so the admissions people get a broader, and more complete, picture of you. If you are an athlete, for example, try not to write more than one essay about sports.

Answer the Question.

How to Write a College Admission Essay - Tips from UPenn/Stanford/USC Alum

Read the prompt carefully and pay particular attention to two part questions. The admissions people are looking for a window into your character, passion and reasoning. Be Personable and Specific. If you are asked to describe your reasons for your interest in a particular school that you are applying to, make sure your essay addresses the particular features of that school that appeal to you and explain why. Brainstorm with others. Many prompts specify a desired number of words or a range. In fact, many on-line applications will not even accept more than the stated limit.

Lincoln got his points across succinctly in the Gettysburg address — in less than words. Be concise. Do not distract the reader with unnecessary words and repetition. Watch Your Tone. If you come across as a spoiled child, a stuck-up rich kid, lazy, sarcastic or a cynic, the admissions team might decide that you are not the right fit for their school.

While few applicants are genuinely altruistic, most colleges are turned off by students who appear more focused on what the school can do for them, rather than how they can benefit from the education and at the same time be a contributing member of the campus community. If you are applying to a business program, the average starting salary of recent graduates should not be your stated motivation for seeking admission!

A good way to catch mistakes is to read your essay very slowly and out loud. Some of the best and most memorable essays are based on a simple conversation between people. The impressions and takeaways from such a conversation can be extremely engaging and provide a valuable window into the personality and values of the writer. Skip the Volunteer Trip. Dedicated community service over a period of time can be a strong topic for an application essay. Volunteer day at the local park, or two weeks of school building in Africa, will probably not impress the admissions committee. They see many essays of this type.

Not only is it difficult to stand out from the pack, but these experiences are often more about the experience than about you, or convey that money buys opportunity. The admissions committee relies on essays to learn additional things about you such as your initiative, curiosity about the world, personal growth, willingness to take risks, ability to be self directed, motivation and ability to make the most of a situation.