Writing essays can be hard, especially when it’s an essay that will impact the rest of your life. When I sat down to write my college application essay I didn’t know what to say.
For some essays I had already written a previous essay that matched the prompt so I just read it over and turned it in. On other essays I wrote whatever came to mind. My essays weren’t bad, they just weren’t good. More importantly they didn’t reflect who I am or my ability to write very well at all. So as someone on the other side of that essay, I want to give you some advice.
- First and foremost take your time. Think about the prompt and brain storm what you want to write about ahead of time. This way you have more time to draft your essay and to receive critical feedback.
- Make sure your essay sounds like you. Ask yourself, “does this sounds like something I would write?” If it helps you, ask a few people who know you well. The people who review your essay want to know who you are and one of the best ways to do that is to show them your voice.
- Another thing that helps them get to know you is your topic. What are you writing about? Whatever you chose make sure it reflects who you are as a person, what makes you unique. It doesn’t have to be something big like starting a non-profit organization or meeting the president (though it can be), you just have to write about something you care about and why. Why is the ticket here, this lets the administrators in on what you’re passionate about and who you are. Your paper doesn’t have to list all of your good qualities, let the rest of your application speak for itself, it just has to reflect a part of who you are.
- It takes more than you to review. When it’s time to revise your paper it can be tempting to read through it yourself and proclaim it to be good enough, it’s uncomfortable to have people read your thoughts, especially people who know you. The other end of the spectrum is being so cautious that you have too many people reading your essay – while it’s always good to get some external advice you need to make sure that your paper is still your own. I’d say to have two or three people look over your essay before you revise it (after your own initial revision of course). Take in all of their advice and see what fits with your voice, what clarifies your ideas, and and improves your grammar. Overall. just think “if I were to implement this how could it make my paper better?” You may need to switch some things around completely in the end but having a strong essay is worth it.
Maybe you’re reading this and wondering if all of this really matters, maybe you could just wing it – after all that’s what I did and I still got into college right?
It’s possible for you to wing it and still do well but honestly I probably would have had a lot more financial support and less academic skepticism, if I hadn’t and if I could go back, I would rewrite that essay. If you skipped everything I wrote and just came down to here for some reason (and I wouldn’t blame you if you did this is getting pretty long) I’d like you to remember to put yourself into your essay, that’s what the whole point of these essays are- for the college to get to know you.
Check out some of these helpful links for some more advice and tips on writing a great essay!