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Through our very own editors and guest writers, this blog will discuss the INSIDE scoop on the admissions process of various schools and programs. If you wish to ask a specific question, please write to us, and we will make every attempt to address your questions in our future blog discussions.
Friday, September 18, 2009
10 Tips For Writing A Winning College Admission Essay

10 Tips for Writing a College Essay that Gets You Noticed

1. Obviously, read the instructions carefully. Most colleges will specify a word length or provide a topic for you to address. Others, like the Common Application, will allow you to choose from a list. If you're applying to ten colleges, you may want to consider writing about a topic that you can adjust for other applications. If you do decide to use one essay for all of your colleges, I would suggest that you try to find a way to personalize it a little for each school. Can you make it specific to their community or values?

2. Choose a topic that allows you to express what you value, who you are as a person, and what you can add to the campus community. Take some time to really think about your topic and try to choose something unique. Admissions counselors read thousands of essays. The most common ones are about sports achievements and participation in volunteer work. If you are thinking about choosing one of these topics, can you think of a way to make it different?

3. Remember: The admissions essay is NOT a resume! It is impossible to tell the committee everything about you in one short essay. Instead of listing all of the things you've done, choose ONE thing and tell a story that lets the committee see many things about you. Also…don't write about something that you've included in another part of the application.

4. If there is anything about your application that needs to be explained (weak grades, for example), then you may want to include it in your essay. Discuss how you approached any difficulties and explain what you learned as a result. Don't make excuses; just be honest! Your reader may be impressed with your ability to tackle a problem head on, rather than avoid it altogether.

5. Write an opener that hooks your readers. You want them to actually want to continue reading rather than think, "I've read this story a million times before." Can you entice them with a personal anecdote, for example? Quotes are also good, but you should know that

a lot of people take this approach. If you use a quote, don't just toss it in there and think it's enough. Build a story around it! Make it relevant!

6. Make sure your essay is organized. Take your reader on a journey, from beginning to end. There should be a logical progression of information.

7. Conclusions are equally important. The best essays will come full-circle, meaning that they connect back to their openers in a meaningful way. Give your readers something to think about and most importantly, make them hang on to your last word.

8. Choose an appropriate tone. If you're funny, then fine. Make them laugh! But don't try to be something you're not. Be true to yourself; show your own personality!

9. Avoid the thesaurus! If I haven't stressed it enough, then let me do it again: Be yourself! Students often run to the thesaurus to replace their own words with ones that 'sound' more sophisticated. But chances are if you didn't know to use this word to begin with, then you probably don't understand its subtleties. Essays that rely too heavily on a thesaurus are often confusing and choppy!

10. Spell Check is NEVER enough! There is more to editing an essay than running it through Spell Check. While it's a great start, this program does not pick up usage or grammatical errors. Give your essay to someone you trust and ask them to read it. Feedback will help you build an even stronger essay. It will also help you avoid mistakes that make you stand out to the admissions Committee.


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