College admissions essays can be particularly challenging for aspiring undergrads to write. You want to reveal yourself to the readers as a measured, thoughtful individual, but also one who will add some verve and color to the student body.
Here are some tips that we’ve collected that should get you pointed in the right direction. Remember, the college essay introduces you to the faculty, so it’s not something that you ever want to rush through or gloss over.
Answer the Question that They Are Asking
This seems obvious, but it may surprise you how many individuals neglect the basic premise of a college admissions essay. If you look into a college admissions editing service, this is one of the first things they’re likely to correct.
Some prospective students have this idea in their mind going into this part of the application. They want to:
- Write about one particular thing
- Showcase a specific aspect of their personality
- Rely on their grades to get them in more than this part
They start talking about something they were intent on writing about that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the question that the essay wants answered. If you can’t do something so simple as following directions, then the college of your choice isn’t likely to think very highly of you.
Get Someone You Trust to Edit the Essay
Do you have:
- A favorite high school teacher
- A family member who has a talent for the written word
- A good relationship with your school’s guidance counselor
Any of those might be suitable recruits to edit your college admissions essay before you send it out. You might have a lot of confidence in your writing talents, and that’s great. It could very well be that your essay is a strength, and it will significantly boost your chances of getting into that top school choice.
However, don’t assume that it’s perfect after writing the first draft. You need to have someone else look at it with fresh eyes who isn’t so close to the source material.
Make sure that the person you show it to knows you, and can tell whether this is the best effort you can produce. If they have some additional tips for you, don’t pout about it. Keep working until you have the best possible essay to show the admissions board.
Watch Out for Redundancies
Many colleges will instruct you that your application essay should be a certain length. Maybe that length seems significant to you, and you find yourself struggling to come up with enough words to get to the desired amount.
There are many different college essay writing guides, but every one of them will say that you don’t want to use repetitive language to get to a particular word count. If that’s your situation, then talk to whoever you have enlisted to help you with your essay. A parent, guidance counselor, or teacher would all be fine choices.
If the admissions board members see that you’re running out of steam toward the essay’s end to fill out the word count, then they’re not likely to look favorably on it.
Be Careful About Using Humor
With most college essays, no directions are telling you what the tone has to be that you’re trying to nail down. You can keep things serious, or you can get a little bit playful with it. It’s entirely up to you.
However, you should be careful about humor in a professional setting, and a college essay probably shouldn’t sound as though the class clown wrote it. You want your personality to be readily apparent, and that doesn’t necessarily mean being strait-laced and stern. You might be able to include a humorous moment or two, but you’re also trying to convey that you genuinely care about getting in.
Beyond that, you’ll want to write about something important to you, as long as it is within the bounds of the question the essay is asking. If you write about something you’re passionate about, then that should bring out your best creative abilities.
Don’t worry about being a bit unconventional, if that’s what matters to you. An unusual essay won’t necessarily disqualify you from the admission board members considering you.
It’s all about nailing the right tone, so do several drafts, and try to have multiple people look at them. The product you end up with might be the ticket to getting into your dream academic situation.