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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.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Advice for Foreign Students Tackling the Admission Essay
In this blog and elsewhere on the internet, candid informational tips about essay writing are ubiquitous. Keep it simple. Grab your reader in the opening paragraph. Organize, structure, proofread. Even with this guidance at their fingertips, the admission essay is a monumental challenge for students who are native speakers. What then, must it be like for the mushrooming group of international students who are tackling the same challenge without the advantage of fluency in English?

It's safe to say that if an international student is even entertaining the idea of applying to a U.S. college, they must have a decent command of the English language. But even for foreign students who may have years of academic English to their credit, formal writing is still a struggle. This means that for the international students who are still really grappling with English, the essay may be less of an obstacle and more of a complete roadblock. Plagiarism detection websites, and recent media coverage of alleged widespread cheating amongst the growing numbers of Chinese applicants at U.S. schools threatens to make admissions officers even more vigilant.

The solution for students struggling with English? Know your limits. There is a high concentration of international students in fields like engineering and science, so it may not be essential to have flawless prose in your admission essay. It is, however, important to make sure that your finished product reads like something you could actually write. Certain colloquialisms and tone are distinctive to native speakers, so be careful that your editor's voice doesn't sound stronger than your own.

You should be writing something engaging, but understand that the essay is only one component of your total application. Electing to study outside of one's native country takes courage and ambition. Your reader will know this and appreciate the simplicity of an imperfect essay that sounds sincere. After all, whatever your native language, this is what the personal statement aims to uncover.


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