Effective Essays: A Challenge for All Students
Some students are natural writers and welcome the challenge of the college admissions essay. For so many, however, the process can be filled with uncertainty or even anxiety. International students have the benefit of some very interesting experiences and motivation that can add spark to their essays; however, they also face some of the same challenges as writers from any location.
Here's what I advise students as they develop their essays. First of all, be yourself. Don't try to write in any type of tone that could be a turnoff to the reader. If you have a topic or experience that is uniquely yours, you have the potential for an interesting and memorable essay. Use active rather than passive language. Grab the reader's interest in the beginning, and leave him or her thinking about you at the close. During your school years, you may have had teachers who discouraged you from writing in the first person; this essay is the absolute exception.
As an international students may have had powerful influences and role models in your life who drove you to apply to college in the United States. However, the college essay, known as the Personal Essay on the Common Application, is about you. Colleges don't need to hear too much about someone or something else; what they want to know is the effect on you. One thing I always tell students is that there is no need to have a serious essay; in fact, many admissions officers say how much they welcome something light and fun. If you are are a very strong student, stay away from writing about school.