It’s not too late to start your college application essay! Your final chance to win that acceptance letter from your dream school is the essay. Read on for advice on how to write a good college admission essay.
As you’re probably already aware, college admissions essays are not just any old essays; they require a lot of thought and effort, more so than other types of papers you may have written in the past.
They’re called college essays because they express to the admissions committee your reasons for wanting to attend the particular college or university that you’ve selected.
In addition to being a good impression on the admissions committee, a quality essay can also make a difference between acceptance and rejection. So how do you get it right?
Although it’s likely that you’ve been given some suggestions about writing an effective college admissions essay before, never assume that all of these are correct.
There are some common myths about college essays that can lead you in the wrong direction.
For example, it’s often said that admissions officers want to read an essay from an applicant who is mature and sensible, who doesn’t have too much fun in high school, and is well-behaved.
Other people say that you should write your essay over again in a few days if you’re not happy with the way it turned out.
Don’t do either of these things.
They are both a waste of your time.
You’ll learn to write an excellent college admissions essay by knowing what admissions officers want, not what they don’t want.
You’ll learn to write the best application essay by reading examples of college admission essays and not by writing another draft if you’re unhappy with your efforts in the first place.
You’ll learn to write a college admissions essay that is mature and sensible, but not boring (and certainly not tame).
You’ll learn how to write an essay in a few days that shines your personality.
Best of all, you’ll learn how to write an application essay that is almost guaranteed to win you the acceptance letter from your dream school.
Here’s how you can do it:
Understand what admissions officers want when you write a college admission essay.
It’s a good idea to study some examples of college admission essays.
This will show you how college application essays are written, as well as what is expected.
Read through a few samples of college admission essay samples, paying particular attention to the opening and closing paragraphs.
Look for commonalities between these examples.
Notice how different schools write about the same thing in different ways.
One of the most important things to notice is that admissions officers want you to talk about something important.
During your high school years, what experiences were the most meaningful?
There’s a good chance that you’ll use one of these in your essay, but don’t be afraid to include other meaningful experiences as well.
Admissions officers also want you to talk about something specific that you’ve accomplished during high school.
What was your most meaningful accomplishment? It might be something that you’ve worked on since then, but that it was special enough at the time to be memorable.
Finally, make sure you discuss something that you want to do at college or after graduation.
You want to prove that you’re mature enough not to bother about grades and partying all the time – or your parents – or whatever else it is that other teenagers are thinking about (and doing).
Learn how to be “sensible and mature” during your high school years.
During your high school years, make sure to finish anything you start; don’t drop things halfway through because you’re too interested in doing something else.
It’s also a good idea to keep your grades up, don’t get involved in too many extracurricular activities (in case you lose interest), and try not to do anything that would turn your friends against you.
In short, make sure to have a slightly boring high school experience – but at least one that’s enjoyable.
Be self-disciplined during your high school years; don’t let anything “bother” you too much.
You could say that you’ve got lots of things that “bother” you to say in your college application essay.
Don’t let what “other people” think about you bothers you too much.
You should also be sure to finish everything that you start; this is an especially good idea if what you’re working on requires some dedication.
Show people how mature and sensible you are during your high school years.
If you’re the type of person who likes to have fun, your best bet is to get an internship during your high school years.
You might end up working with underage kids, but some service industry jobs are suitable too.
Of course, if you want to get a job that pays well and you would like to work with kids, you should look for summer internships or volunteer positions.
Remember, you’ll probably need a resume to get these jobs, so start building one early.
Even if you decide to just have fun in high school and hang out with your friends, that’s okay.
Lots of smart college hopefuls do that and they end up getting accepted into their first choice schools.
You’ll probably want to apply to some art schools or other universities that don’t require all the hard sciences, math and lab courses – or you might want to consider applying to art colleges that do accept those types of applicants.
The important thing is that you’re a smart, mature and sensible person.
Don’t waste time on writing drafts if you’re not happy with your first one that you write as your college admission essay.
Good news! You don’t need to write another draft if you aren’t happy with your essay in the first place.
You can just use it as a template, and when it’s time to write your essay, you’ll know what to say.
Here are some tips on how to write the perfect college application essay, and you can use this as a template for your own piece:
Essay Topic: Why I want to attend your school.
Topic sentence: I want to attend your school because I am interested in… (use a short phrase, not an entire phrase).
This year has been extremely interesting for me because of… (use a short sentence regarding something important that happened this year – try not to use too many pronouns).
First sentence: My name is… (personally identify yourself, and make this part of your essay personal).
I am… (if you’re the type of person to list, tell about the good things about you) for reasons that are… (best described in sentences.
Do not use those “I’m from…” sentences; stick to a short phrase that explains what makes you special – and more importantly, why this college is exactly what you need at this stage in your life).
Second sentence: I am very goal-oriented.
The reason why I am choosing your school is because… (use this sentence to explain why you’re going to college at this time in your life, and what you “need” at the beginning of this paragraph).
Sketch out a possible second paragraph: This year has been extremely interesting for me because of many experiences that I have had.
It has been a learning year for me because I have learned… (use short paragraphs to list some of the important things that you have learned in the past year).
I was very lucky to be able to experience these things because… (use sentences to further explain your life experiences, and why you’re saying what you are) because of the fact that… (explain another important thing that happened this year, telling how this has affected your life. Again, use sentences as much as possible).
Third sentence: I am a mature person, and I will treat your school with the respect it deserves.
This year has taught me that… (use sentences to explain what happened this past year).
The most important things that I have learned are… (use two or three sentences regarding some of the things you’ve learned in high school).
Fourth sentence: I think my choices in life have been good ones; I was raised by good parents who… (use sentences to explain your childhood). My parents have always been good examples of people who… (use short sentences to explain them) because… (explain the most important thing about them).
Fifth sentence: I had a great high school career, so after graduation, I will… (use short sentences and, again, don’t use any topic that is too broad.
Most applicants do not need to write on “chooses in life”, “mature and sensible” or anything else that is too general).
I will have a great time at your school because… (use a few sentences to further explain why you’re saying what you are).
Sixth sentence: I was also interested in… (use a brief topic that’s slightly different from the main topic of the essay, but it must be relevant to your first point). I hope to learn more about… (use short sentences, and avoid using too many pronouns and “I-words”).
Finally, seventh sentence: I look forward to attending your school in September because… (use a short sentence to further explain your interest in this school).
I believe that I will learn a lot from your school and I can’t wait to attend your school.
Even if you’re happy with the first draft, it’s always nice to come up with an introduction.
You might overlook some important things that you want or need to say, and you may find that it’s easier to write an introduction than an essay itself.
But don’t worry; there are plenty of online resources available for this type of writing.
When you write a college admission essay, you can also view samples of essays that have been written by college-aged students.