With the thousands of applications colleges receive each year, it is very unlikely that you will be granted a personal interview to best present yourself. While trying to win a spot in the school of your dreams, your College Admission Essay could be the one vital factor that may conclude your application package. Though your GPA and SAT are not that easy for just anyone to obtain, keep in mind that other applicant’s grades and test scores can be just as impressive as yours, or even better. These scores still count, indeed, and will keep you in the running. However, your essay can be where you either earn yourself a spot or earn yourself a rejection letter.
Now beating the competition and leaving a lasting impression on someone who reads hundreds essays a day can be a huge challenge. With just limited amount of words to do all this, you have to get your point across and show the admission advisor that you are different than everyone else. Here is where these helpful tips come into play:
As getting started is mostly the hardest part, consider the following in developing your ideas:
Brainstorm. Note that the most important part of your essay is the subject matter, thus, should be considered carefully. While you need not necessarily spend weeks to find ideas for your essay, do not simply jump into the first thing that crosses your mind just because it’s the most comfortable thing to write about. While not ruling out anything at this stage, brainstorming will actually help you find a subject you had not considered at first.
Get Help from family and friends. If you find it difficult to characterize yourself and identify your personality traits, you would be surprised with what you’ll hear when you solicit friends and family for opinions on you. Try to find out why they identify you with such traits, and you’ll see how an image of your personality will begin to emerge.
Consider a Motivating Factor. Think of an experience that inspired the interests you have today and incorporate this in your planned essay. If you aspire to become like someone you admire, you may want to include in your essay a discussion of that model and the traits you admire in him.
Learn from Others’ Works – Reading sample admissions essays can be a great way for you to learn on what topics other applicants chose and how they presented their selected subject. As not all the essays you will find are good, it will give you an idea which approaches have little effect, results to negative impression (and should be avoided) and which ones are inviting.
Recognize your Goals – Ask yourself: How will the degree you are trying to earn help in the fulfillment of your goals? Here, it is important to think broadly. Would you be satisfied with just a career? How else will your education fit your needs and lead you to a fulfilling life? Once you recognize your goals completely, you will be able to talk about them in your essay more fluidly.
In finally selecting your topic, be certain about what impression you want to make on the admission officers. Note that even seemingly boring topics can be made exceptional with an innovative approach. Just bear in mind that you must persuade the admission officers on being truly worthy of admission and you must make them aware that you are more than what your scores suggest – you are a real-life, intriguing and a promising personality. Though there is no surefire method to writing the perfect essay, the following tips can come in really handy:
Spend Time on Your Introduction – The admission officer usually spends 1-2 minutes reading your essay. Presenting your introduction in a way that the reader would want to finish the rest of your essay takes you closer to sending all your messages across. If you summarize your entire essay in the introduction itself, they need not go through the rest of what you put in there. You may not even need to give away the subject matter in the first line. Creating a little mystery, perhaps intrigue, raises questions in the mind of the admission officer which forces them to read on.
Focus on Personal Qualities – Though you would normally talk about important experiences in your life, never forget to center the most relevant points of your essay on your own personal qualities. If you would speak of past unfortunate events and only whine about it, you would turn to be remembered as the pathetic applicant. If you use these bad experiences to highlight your own positive characteristics, the admission officer will see you as the applicant who showed impressive qualities under difficult circumstances.
Be Careful with First Impressions – While honestly matters, don’t mention weaknesses unless you absolutely need to explain them away. Remember that you want to make a positive first impression. Keep away from subjects on drinking, drugs, and anything that undermines your goal. Besides, why talk of your weaknesses when you’re supposed to showcase your strengths? As far as honesty goes, you may find yourself tempted to invent hardships in an attempt to portray how you stood up beyond all the challenges. That is completely unnecessary.
Be Yourself – Admission officers want to learn about you being the point of interest in your essay. Don’t force to talk on grand themes and issues you have little personal experience with. Write about something more meaningful and describing your thoughts and feelings on it better appeals to the emotions of the admission officers, allowing them relate to your subject matter.
Keep the Balance – When writing about your accomplishments, don’t get too carried away and end up bragging. Temper that pride on your achievements then balance it with humility and generosity towards others.
Don’t Forget Mechanics – Excessive grammatical errors, poor use of punctuation, and misspellings can get very distracting and may hurt your chance of being accepted. Even the slightest error can be a strike against you as these are indications of lack of quality, and perhaps, lack of interest. If English isn’t your greatest strength, there’s nothing wrong with seeking help. Ask a trusted friend or a person with editorial skills to go over the essay with you.
Be consistent – Your essay’s body paragraphs must follow and relate to your introduction. And to preserve the logical flow of your essay, carefully transition one paragraph to the next. Remember that transition is not limited to phrases like as a result, in addition, while, since, etc. but can also be done by repeating key words and progressing the idea.
Remember that Conclusions are Crucial - The conclusion is your last chance to persuade the admission officer, so you need to make those words and thoughts count. In trying to leave a lasting impression, however, many stumble on a few common mistakes which make them lose that chance to win the approval of the reader altogether. Keeping in mind the DONTs better keeps you on track as you put together your conclusion. Though you would remain connected to your introduction and subject, remember that your conclusion should not be just a reworded introduction, or worse, a summary of your entire essay using entirely different words. Another common blunder others make in efforts to avoid repetition is introducing a completely new idea in the conclusion. Leave the sudden brainstorm for an entirely different essay. As you conclude the one you’ve just written, stay on topic.
Try to end your essay on a positive note. Think of the conclusion as where you can butter up the admission officers just a bit without being cheesy. Express how you would love to get an education at a campus that is meant for you, how you feel about their university and why. Conclude with your eagerness to hear from them and have your dreams to be in the course of study you are applying for. That way, you stay focused on your essay objective.
So, you’ve finally completed your essay. But your job isn’t really over yet. Even the best writers need to proof-read their work several times before saying they are sure about it. Below are a few more things you might need to do to get you closer to that college entrance.
Revise, Revise, Revise. As you are only allowed a certain number of words, use them wisely. Always remember to stay within the subject matter, thus, remove anything in the essay that does not relate to your main argument. On the process of tweaking some lines, you may even have to allow room for evolving your main topic. Make sure you adhere to the word limit. If your essay runs a little short, don’t feel obligated to fill the extra space.
Proofread your work. Make sure you find every single grammatical error and don’t rely on your computer’s spell check tool alone. Though some software programs make grammatical changes for you, you still need to read through and make sure your intended meaning is coming across.
Ask for Opinion. Have other people read your essay but choose those whom you can trust to give an honest, critical opinion. Not all people are that comfortable with criticizing others’ work. People who tell you your essay is “great” even when it isn’t, so not to offend you, are doing you more harm than if they told you about every little error you made. Sparing your feelings isn’t going to help your application at all. It may sound silly, but you may have to ask them to really be critical (and even mean).
Remember not to skimp on time when writing your essay. Spend whatever allowable number of hours you can set aside to show your skills at their best. However, view your essay as an opportunity rather than a chore. And whatever you do, don’t let the essay stress you out. Be in your best as you begin on it until the end. You have no idea how your mood can ruin your essay, and your chance for admission. College admissions officers read piles of poorly written essays every year. Don’t let your application get buried in the heap.