The College Essay

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The college essay is a source of great anxiety for seniors as college deadlines approach.  Unfortunately, there is no magical formula for writing an entertaining, insightful, and profound essay that guarantees admission. However, there are useful tips to keep in mind while staring at a blank computer screen. Be advised, there are no shortcuts in the journey to excellent grammar, composition, and content.

  1. Just. Start. Writing.
  2. Start early. You have worked for years on your activities, GPA, and resume. Spending time on your essay will also show.
  3. Draft, edit, revise, draft, edit, revise. Repeat. Draft, edit, revise, draft, edit, revise. Repeat. It will pay off.
  4. Get feedback. Ask for help from someone who knows you well.  This can be useful early in the process when you are trying to formulate your ideas and at the end when doing final edits.
  5. Don't repeat information that's already in your application.  The admission's officer will already have read about your activities and academics. This is the time to share something new and unique to you.
  6. Finding a topic that's unique to you doesn't mean it will change the world. Admission officers don't expect extreme sacrifice or struggle, they just want to know something about you. And no one is more of an expert on you than you.
  7. Keep your essay on target. Don't try to cover every story that has made you who you are.  Pick your theme or angle and stick to it. The essay is about you. Stories and descriptions are only relevant if you relate them back to you.

The ultimate goal is to write an essay that no one else could write. Not because it is the perfect example of literature but because it is true to you and who you are.