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So many students want and expect themselves to produce pure, uninhibited brilliance the first time their fingers hit the keys, but that is almost never the way good essay writing works.Writing a compelling essay is a process, and the best writing can often be plucked from our stream-of-consciousness efforts.
If you can paint a clear picture for your reader by providing details, you are much more likely to lodge a marker in their memories. If Nothing Else, Entertain: Imagine you’re a college essay reader at an upstanding academic institution and it is your job to read dozens of essays a day, every day, for weeks on end.
Ninety percent of the essays that pass your desk are stone-cold boring, and maybe ten percent break through the fuzz and force you to pay attention.
I can tell a lot about a person from his or her application essay; it’s the most current snapshot of who you are as a person. I’m going to be completely honest with you: Your application essay cannot overshadow years of poor grades and test scores, and in this case, your essay may never find itself in front of the admissions committee. That’s exactly who your essay should be about: you. Now, keep in mind that creativity and a bit of humor are nice.
Think about it: Most of the items you submit to the colleges or universities you’re applying to showcase talents that you have developed over a long period of time. At the same time, you shouldn’t downplay the importance of the essay either. This is your chance to paint a picture of who you are. Professionals on admissions committees have the daunting task of reading thousands of application essays per year, and it can get a bit tedious after a while.
In fact, many schools have cool, offbeat essay questions that really provide you with the opportunity to present the admissions committee with new insight as to who you are. And if your dream school presents you with some of the old standards, remember to approach the subject from the most unique angle you can. The student went on about how he developed the strength and technique needed to be successful in the position and how that experience shaped him into the man he had become.
Whether or not it was intentional, this student started his essay in a way that certainly caught the attention of the admissions committee, and that’s what your first sentences absolutely need to do.
Parents and students often ask us for our most valuable Common Application essay tips, so our savvy team of advisors compiled a list of simple, effective tricks to use as guidelines while you navigate the tricky waters of college essay writing. Now ask yourself- are any of these stories representative of my larger, most valuable qualities?
Think small: When writing the Common Application essay, too many students feel compelled to try and squeeze their entire life story into 650 words. Have you read something recently that blew your mind?
You accomplish this self-branding by choosing a creative topic (or a creative twist on a common topic), and writing about it with enough detail to burn an image of yourself in the reader’s brain.
When it comes down to you and another similarly qualified candidate, you want an admissions officer to be able to stand up with your application in his/her hand and say, “I like the girl who performed trapeze in the circus,” or “How about the girl who saved her grandfather’s life?