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How to Write a Great College Application Essay

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Describe the event or ccomplishment that shaped you but take care to also show what you learned or how you changed. Colleges are looking for a sense of maturity and introspection—pinpoint the transformation and demonstrate your personal growth.

This prompt is an invitation to write about something you care about. So avoid the pitfall of writing about what you think will impress the admission office versus what truly matters to you.

Colleges are looking for curious students, who are thoughtful about the world around them. Make sure you explain how you pursue your interest, as well. Test Your College Knowledge! You can even write your own question! Whatever topic you land on, the essentials of a standout college essay still stand: Show the admissions committee who you are beyond grades and test scores and 2.

Dig into your topic by asking yourself how and why. Individual schools sometimes require supplemental essays. Here are a few popular application essay topics and some tips for how to approach them:. Avoid the urge to pen an ode to a beloved figure like Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln. The admissions committee doesn't need to be convinced they are influential people.

Choose someone who has actually caused you to change your behavior or your worldview, and write about how this person influenced you. Be honest and specific when you respond to this question. Use the college's website and literature to do your research about programs, professors, and other opportunities that appeal to you. Your answer should not be a book report. Don't just summarize the plot; detail why you enjoyed this particular text and what it meant to you.

What does your favorite book reveal about you? How do you identify with it, and how has it become personal to you? Again, be honest in answering this question—don't choose a classic from your literature class or a piece of philosophy just because you think it will make you seem smarter. Think about the mall Santa example above. The essay won't work unless the writer genuinely acknowledges that he was a bad Santa and explains why.

PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service. We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We've overseen thousands of students get into their top choice schools , from state colleges to the Ivy League.

We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit. We want to get you admitted to your dream schools. Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in. Even this little kid is a better Santa than Will was. As I mentioned above, colleges want to know that you are a strong enough writer to survive in college classes. Can you express your ideas clearly and concisely?

These kinds of skills will serve you well in college and in life! Nonetheless, admissions officers recognize that different students have different strengths. Honestly, they aren't expecting a masterwork from anyone , but the basic point stands. Focus on making sure that your thoughts and personality come through, and don't worry about using fancy vocabulary or complex rhetorical devices.

Above all, make sure that you have zero grammar or spelling errors. Typos indicate carelessness, which will hurt your cause with admissions officers. Now that you have a sense of what colleges are looking for, let's talk about how you can put this new knowledge into practice as you approach your own essay.

Below, I've collected my five best tips from years as a college essay counselor. One of the most important parts of the essay writing process is editing, and editing takes a lot of time. You want to be able to put your draft in a drawer for a week and come back to it with fresh eyes.

You don't want to be stuck with an essay you don't really like because you have to submit your application tomorrow. You need plenty of time to experiment and rewrite, so I would recommend starting your essays at least two months before the application deadline.

For most students, that means starting around Halloween, but if you're applying early you'll need to get going closer to Labor Day. Of course, it's even better to get a head start and begin your planning earlier. Many students like to work on their essays over the summer when they have more free time, but you should keep in mind that each year's application isn't usually released until August or September.

Essay questions often stay the same from year to year, however. If you are looking to get a jump on writing, you can try to confirm with the school or the Common App if the essay questions will be the same as the previous year's. One of the biggest mistakes students make is trying to write what they think the committee wants to hear. The truth is that there's no "right answer" when it comes to college essays — the best topics aren't limited to specific categories like volunteer experiences or winning a tournament.

Instead, they're topics that actually matter to the writer. Because to be perfectly honest, right now what really matters to me is that fall TV starts up this week, and I have a feeling I shouldn't write about that. You're not wrong although some great essays have been written about television. Instead, try to be as specific and honest as you can about how the experience affected you, what it taught you, or what you got out of it.

For example, maybe it was a ritual you shared with your brother, which showed you how even seemingly silly pieces of pop culture can bring people together. Dig beneath the surface to show who you are and how you see the world. When you write about something you don't really care about, your writing will come out cliched and uninteresting, and you'll likely struggle to motivate.

When you write about something that is genuinely important to you, on the other hand, you can make even the most ordinary experiences — learning to swim, eating a meal, or watching TV — engaging. As strange as it sounds, SpongeBob could make a great essay topic. Don't try to tell your entire life story, or even the story of an entire weekend; words may seem like a lot, but you'll reach that limit quickly if you try to pack every single thing that has happened to you into your essay.

Instead, narrow in on one specific event or idea and talk about it in more depth. The narrower your topic, the better. Whatever your topic, use details to help draw the reader in and express your unique perspective, but keep in mind that you don't have to include every detail of what you did or thought — stick to the important and illustrative ones. Instead, try to be yourself. The best writing sounds like a more eloquent version of the way you talk.

To do so, avoid the urge to use fancy-sounding synonyms when you don't really know what they mean. Contractions are fine; slang, generally, is not.

Don't hesitate to write in the first person. To be clear, editing doesn't mean just making a few minor wording tweaks and cleaning up typos; it means reading your essay carefully and objectively and thinking about how you could improve it. Ask yourself questions as you read: Do you make a lot of vague, sweeping statements that could be replaced with more interesting specifics? Do your sentences flow together nicely?

You will have to delete and rewrite potentially large parts of your essay, and no matter how attached you feel to something you wrote, you might have to let it go. At some point, you might even need to rewrite the whole essay. Even though it's annoying, starting over is sometimes the best way to get an essay that you're really proud of.

If you're in need of guidance on other parts of the application process , take a look at our guides to choosing the right college for you , writing about extracurriculars , and requesting teacher recommendations.

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Most students think of their college essay as a major motion picture. They feel they need to cover the highlights (or, too often, the tragedies) of years of experience. The problem is that to write about a life in words will result in a cinematic long shot.

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On the flip side, exceptional application essays can help students with marginal scores get into the schools of their dreams. The tips below will help you win big with your essay. Also be sure to check out these tips for the seven personal essay options on the Common Application, this advice for improving your essay's style, and the sample essays.

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Most selective colleges require you to submit an essay or personal statement as part of your application. It may sound like a chore, and it will certainly take a substantial amount of work. But it's also a unique opportunity that can make a difference at decision time. Why it's important and how you can help. Your students’ college essay is their opportunity to reveal their best qualities and to show an admission committee what makes them stand out from other applicants. Work with your students to help them with this important piece of their application.

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College essays are important because they let you reveal your personality. Learn how brainstorming and planning can help you write your best college essays. By writing a stellar personal essay as part of your college admissions application. It may be only words — or sometimes only words — but the admissions essay(s) portion of a college application can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection.