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Tips for Writing a Killer College Admission Essay

Buzzle Staff Mar 16, 2020
College admissions counselors pay close attention to essays, and these seven tips can help you write an essay to remember.
The college admissions process is a complex collection of record reporting, writing, and, in some cases, interviewing. Your essay is just one of many components of this process, but it's often one of the most important.
Every school weighs the admission essay differently, in terms of its overall influence on your acceptance or rejection, but this doesn't mean that the essay is never important.
In fact, this is oftentimes the one place on your admissions checklist where you can show off your personality and creativity. This are seven different ways in which you can make your college admission essay stand out from the rest.

Choose a Unique Topic

In some cases, colleges will provide you with a list of two or three topics from which you can choose. This leaves little room for creativity, but you can call some attention to yourself by picking the most difficult topic.
Remember, though, that you want to shine a light on your most positive attributes (in terms of what the college admissions team will be looking for), so don't choose the less popular topic just to be different, choose it if it's going to allow you stand out in a positive way.
For essay requests that allow you to choose your own topic, this is the perfect opportunity to let your personality shine.
The admissions team has probably read thousands of essays about prospective students' hardest struggles, why their GPA is low but they will be, really, a great addition to the student body, and how their favorite teachers impacted their lives. Try to take a different approach by choosing a topic that's relevant yet unpredictable.

Follow a Creative Structure

Writing a five paragraph essay in the first person is a cakewalk after mastering this form in elementary school. For this reason, it's easy to overlook the standard five paragraph format (unless, of course, the application asks for this specifically, in which case you should follow directions).
If the college has given you a bit of creative license, try putting your essay into a structure that will take readers by surprise. For instance, you might write in the third person, or compose a poem or series of flash fiction pieces.

Make it Meaningful

When applying for multiple colleges, the essay may seem like a necessary evil; you have to write the article to complete the application, but you find yourself writing what you think readers will want to see instead of what you think is important.
The fear of getting a rejection letter from one of your top choices is hard to suppress, but remember that this essay allows you to reveal your personality, values, and expectations, and if these don't align with those of the college, it probably isn't the best choice for you anyway.
Be sincere and make sure that your essay is meaningful. A heartfelt, true essay is going to attract more attention than an essay that you don't believe in.

Keep it Concise

Most applications will specify the word count deemed acceptable for the essay, so make sure you adhere to it. But make sure that you don't make it tediously long as the one who is going to read your essay will be reading mounds of such essays, so keep it to the point.
You may also not want to test your admission officer's patience by taking circuitous routes to describe your point; cut on meandering, don't make it look like a drawn-out story.

Keep it Honest

Some college essays may want you to answer to specific questions like "describe yourself" or "how do you intend to apply your knowledge after graduating from our college?". This is where you will be required to be creative and honest. The admissions officers are keen to know what you are as a person and what qualities you have that make you unique.
Don't try to be somebody that you are not. Don't overstretch the truth or exaggerate your achievements or skills just because you think it will impress the admissions officer (read: after reading through hundreds of essays they know whether you are telling a fib or truth).

A Mini Story that Calls for your Audience's Attention

Admissions officers are not looking for inspiring quotes from luminaries or expecting you to share someone else story, so it's always good to write your own story, not a fictional one though.
You can always begin your essay with your own mini story, it could either talk about a challenge you faced and how you overcame it (don't drown yourself in self-pity, it will never work) or your passion about something since an early age (make sure this passion is relevant to your essay).

Keep it Grammatically Sound

It goes without saying that an essay that will have punctuation, grammatical, and spelling errors will be off-putting. Avoid using slang or texting lingo, remember you are writing an essay for college and not to a friend!
Writing your college admission essays can be a challenge, especially if you don't have a lot of experience or interest in writing. But you can make your essay shine with the right approach! Keep these seven tips in mind as you get ready to apply to your top colleges, and good luck!