tips for college essays

Most universities require prospective students to write an essay. This presents you with a unique opportunity to stand out from other applicants. Read on for tips to help you craft the perfect college essay — one that conveys what makes you unique, and is true to who you are. That’s something many applicants fail to do in their attempt to impress the admissions board.

The Topic Should Matter to You

Why write about something you don’t care about or choose a subject you don’t know much about? Reading your writing gives the admissions board an insight into who you are. You want to make sure the topic you write about shows them the real you, and you can’t do that if you don’t choose the right topic.

Open with An Anecdote

You don’t have a page to get the admissions board’s attention. As with all writing, you need to get attention from the first line. Opening with an anecdote, or a moment from your life that is pivotal and attention grabbing, is more likely to catch their eye than the perfectly crafted mission statement. Choose a story that highlights your personality and character. It would be ideal if the story were about an event that changed your life, setting you on a new path.

Reflect on Your Experiences

college essay tipsAnother way to say this is: Show, don’t tell. You need to avoid just telling them what happened. Show them the result, specifically how it changed your life. It’s the difference between saying Boise State won 43-42 over Oklahoma and saying they battled the giant blow for blow, finally beating the heavyweight with the boldest trick play in the history of college football.

Don’t forget: a story of how you failed is often more compelling than your come-from-behind victory against all odds. The former offers opportunity to explore your flaws and your growth; the latter just celebrates your strengths.

Don’t Over-Write

The application contains a section for you to flex your writing muscles, dazzling the board with your astonishing vocabulary. Don’t do that. Write the way you speak, not how you want people to think you speak. This is the marketing document of your life, so be sure you’re selling yourself, not some imaginary character.

Start Early and Write Several Drafts

You are not going to sit down and write the perfect essay in one attempt. Crafting the perfect essay is like painting a picture. You’re going to put paint to canvas, then realize the color or lines are off. You’ll attempt to go with it, creating another problem. Maybe you start an entirely new canvas, taking the lessons of the previous painting with you until you have a painting worthy of display.

Have Someone Edit It

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip. You won’t be able to see your mistakes. You know what you were saying, and errors can blend into the page as your eyes skip forward over words you know are correct. Pick someone you trust to help you fine-tune this potentially life-changing document.

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how to write a college essay