There are FOUR essential components in preparing a great college essay:
1. A great college essay always starts with a great topic.
What does that mean? Something people are interested in?
Not necessarily. A great topic should always be something YOU are passionate about. How many times during high school were you told to write about something you were not really interested in? Probably more than enough. Well, a college essay gives you the opportunity to explore areas that matter most to you.
No matter what course you are in, you should be able to dissect the material to find issues, controversies, or facts that speak to your personality. When that happens, take it and run with it. Use those "wow, I didn't know that" moments to develop an essay that would be enjoyable to write.
2. A great college essay always includes a clear thesis statement.
Thesis statements can and should act as the road map for your essay. It should present the purpose of your writing, it should be clear and understandable, and it should make your reader interested in what you have written.
To achieve this, I often rely on a thesis formula. The formula is structured as such:
SUBJECT --> CLAIM --> DIRECTION --> UNIVERSAL IDEA
The subject - your chosen topic
Claim - what is important about the topic
Direction - how you will focus the attention of your essay
Universal idea - why your intended audience will find your essay important
In THE LION KING, Directors Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff adequately convey the importance of family ties through stylistic narration, emotional appeal, and complex character development.
Here, the subject is THE LION KING (and the directors). The claim is that they are conveying something about the film. The direction is "through stylistic narration, emotional appeal, and complex character development," and the universal idea is "the importance of family ties."
Notice that your thesis does not have to follow the order of the thesis formula, but it should include all the elements of the formula.
3. A great college essay always has a catchy introduction and conclusion.
You always want to grab your readers' attention with something that will make them want to continue reading your work. Statistics, quotes, or a narrative are always good places to start.
In the same way, you always want to leave your reader with something to remember, so the conclusion is just as important. Provide your reader with some closure and don't leave them hanging.
4. A great college essay is always organized.
Be sure that your essay follows the structure you have provided in your introduction and/or thesis statement. If you say you will discuss a,b,c, and d, don't talk about them throughout your paper as d, b, a, and c.
Remember to include topic sentences that reflect your thesis statement which will help act as a guide for great organization.
There are certainly more things that you can do to make your essay even better, but these FOUR elements will give you solid foundation for a great college essay.