Getting into College Made Easy: How to Write Your College Admissions Essay
Are you nervous about writing your college admissions essay? Don’t be. It is actually simpler than you expect, if you follow this advice . . .
Step One: Understand the purpose of the essay. Colleges want them because they are trying to decide whether or not you would be a good member of their college community if they accept you. Period.
Step Two: Pick a topic that supports Step One above. In other words, pick a subject that shows that you are a good fit for the college. If you are applying to an activist kind of college, write something about the environment or about social values. If you are applying to a notorious party school, write something about what a good friend you are. If you are an athletic recruit to a sports-intensive school, write about something you learned when you were on a team. Picking your topic is not rocket science – just consider what the college in question wants to hear from you.
Step Three: Dig a few layers down into your topic. If you are writing about sports, don’t write about how excited you were when your team won the state championship, or about your inspiring coach. Instead, write about what you learned about trusting others when you were injured, or about how you learned to play better from a teammate who was benched for the entire season. Or if you are writing about your environmentalism, don’t write about how evil it is to eat animals. Instead, write about how you struggled to stop eating meat and learned something important about making changes in your life. Again, the point is to reveal something about yourself and your personal journey toward becoming who you are.
Step Four: Avoid the classic blunders. Certain topics are off-limits. Don’t write, for example, about something you learned while you were drunk or high. Don’t write about how stupid a course or a teacher was. Don’t write about how our solar system is just like an atom and we are living in it – the admissions people have seen that essay before. Also, avoid the topic of death, unless you have something astonishingly unusual to write about the death of a grandparent, parent, or pet.
Step Five: Have a teacher or guidance counselor proofread your essay and make suggestions – but NOT rewrite it. Admissions officers have gotten very good at spotting essays that have been made “squeaky clean” by a parent or college essay advisor. You are a student applying to college, right? Not a famous author. So an essay that is a little rough around the edges will work harder to show those colleges who you really are.
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