What Are College Essay Readers Looking For

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Over his 24-year career, he has served as a college admissions administrator, test prep teacher, author, publisher, and lecturer.

Writing the college application essay is a daunting task.

Admissions officers have to read an unbelievable number of college essays, most of which are forgettable.

Many students try to sound smart rather than sounding like themselves.

Anyone can write about how they won the big game or the summer they spent in Rome.

When recalling these events, you need to give more than the play-by-play or itinerary.The best way to tell your story is to write a personal, thoughtful essay about something that has meaning for you.Be honest and genuine, and your unique qualities will shine through.We caution against one-liners, limericks and anything off–color. Put yourself in the shoes of an admissions officer: Is the essay interesting? Don't reuse an answer to a similar question from another application.A teacher or college counselor is your best resource.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.Home is the in-between, the cusp of transition – that is where I feel most content.In our College Essay Clichés to Avoid post, we advised students against writing about moving to America from a foreign country.America owns my childhood, filled with pine trees, blockbuster movies, and Lake Tahoe snow; China holds my adolescence, accompanied by industrial smog, expeditious mobility, and fast-paced social scenes. My reverie isn’t at an end, but I have the answer to my question.Home is neither arrival nor departure, neither America nor China.

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