What makes a great college essay?

Application Process

Our Counselors Answered:

What makes a great college essay?

Karen Ekman-BaurDirector of College CounselingLeysin American School

What makes a great college essay?

Tips for writing an effective college admissions essay are essentially the same for all students. You will want to reveal to the admissions officers more about yourself, your interests, your values, what you feel strongly about, and what is important to you than what they can discover in the numbers and statistics that make up most of the rest of the application. Remember that admissions officers will be reading large numbers of essays, and you will want to create an essay that will stand out in the interesting way it is formulated, as well as in its unique subject matter. You definitely don’t want to put the readers to sleep! You have surely had certain life experiences which will provide interesting material for your essay(s) – even things which you yourself take for granted. Consider how the story you have to tell would be perceived by someone else who has never before heard that story. Write analytically, rather than merely descriptively. Descriptive writing is a factual account of a topic or event, simply telling what happened. Analytical writing will pose or answer questions, make comparisons, or present and defend viewpoints. Rather than just state what happened, an analytical approach will explain and interpret events. Why did they take place? What were their consequences? How did they relate to other developments? What is your interpretation of what transpired? How do/did you feel about the topic about which you are writing? In most cases, you will be required to limit the essay to a certain number of characters or words. I always suggest that students not worry too much about this limitation to begin with – just get your ideas written down (typed). After that, some strategic editing can be done to trim the fat off and get the essay down to the required size. Don’t worry! Although this task may seem daunting when you think about it, it inevitably results in a more concise, streamlined presentation of your concept. Finally, make sure that the essay does not have glaring errors in spelling, sentence structure, and paragraph formulation. In fact, try to make it as correct as possible. Besides appearing very careless, these kinds of errors can actually interfere with the ability of the reader to understand your point. It will be helpful if you have other people whose opinion you value read the essay to give you feedback on areas that might not be clear or which require further explanation, but make sure that the essay remains in your own “voice”.

adam baerWriter and Editor for Top National Magazines, Websites, and Newspapers

What makes a great college essay?

A natural understanding of narrative structure — not the prefabricated “academic paper” structure — and a great story to tell. Don’t worry so much that other people may have “better” stories than you. Everyone’s life is full of story, narrative, and it’s up to you to tell these stories in compelling ways.

Heather TomaselloWriting CoachThe EssayLady, LLC

What makes a great college essay?

Students ask me this all of the time. The answer? A great college essay is PERSONAL. It doesn’t need to be earth-shattering. We haven’t all pulled babies from burning buildings or sailed around the world in a catamaran. That’s okay. Tell a story from your own life that shows something unique about you. Be honest and even a little vulnerable. The story that your friends perk up to listen to- that’s the stuff that makes for great app essays. More than anything, officers want to get to know you through your essay. There is no room for stuffiness. You will end up sounding like every other applicant.

Amberley WolfCollege ConsultantWolf College Consulting

What makes a great college essay?

When you write an essay you need to ask the question: “What would everyone else say if they were writing about your topic?” Discard all of that and write YOUR story about the topic. Making the story unique is what makes a great college essay. Good essays are personal. A reader should be able to learn about at least some of the following: your passions, feelings, perspectives, values, your defeats and/or accomplishments. College essays should also demonstrate your ability to think and organize your thoughts. Above all… make sure you choose a topic you care about. If you are bored of the topic, then most likely the reader will be bored too.

Deanna Kubit

What makes a great college essay?

The best advice I can give about writing an essay is speak from the heart. The college essay is not like your English papers. It is “your voice” in the application process. It is not an opportunity for you to tell them about your parents, your grandparents, your teachers or your friends. It is all about YOU! The best way to make an impact is to tell a story. Imagine reading 100 essays and each one is mundane and talks about how much they like your college. When considering your essay topic, ask yourself, “What makes me unique?” Maybe you want to study Political Science and you have served on the student government throughout high school. Don’t talk about your campaign strategies, what offices you have held and what committee’s you have chaired (those are listed under your activities section). Tell them what you learned, how it made a difference in your life and what changes it created in your high school. Passion and excitement need to be in the essay. Admission officers are looking for students who want to be on their campus, want to participate on their campus and want to make a difference in the world, but above all, they want to know how you are different from the other 100 applications sitting on their desk. If your essay could be written by anyone else who was on student government, then it is not ready to submit. Your essay needs to be positive, powerful and passionate. It needs to tell the admission rep who you are and what you want in the voice of a young adult. Do not sit with a Thesaurus and think you are going to impress the reader. These are highly skilled professionals who read essays for a living. Believe me, they have seen and heard it all before. Your job is to give them something personal about you that no one else could describe because it is not their life or their experience. How do you know when it is ready to submit? When you read your paper aloud and at the end of your essay a smile comes your face because you know it is the best thing you have ever written. It is the best paper because it is all about YOU!

Chuck SlatePresidentCollege Advisors,LLC

What makes a great college essay?

(1.) Originality: You can’t FORCE yourself to be funny or to write with great Wisdom. You CAN FORCE YOURSELF to sit down in a quiet room WITH NO MEDIA (ipod, iphone, itunes, web, tv, etc etc.) and take a blank sheet of paper and begin to create something that NO WRITER could do as well as you–remember events or experiences from your life. (2). Consistency: Your essay may visibly tie in to your resume and your interview or it may appear not to, but their should be a sense of consistency as to WHO you are. Either through your activities and experiences, or more subtely, how you think and feel about things. (3). Hook: This is one of those concepts often bandied around by counselors. In an essay it could refer to a title which keeps you wondering why you chose it until the end, or an idea buried in the essay which comes out in an unexpected fashion. A “hook” isn’t a necessity, but if one develops while you are pulling things together, it may show a level of intellect that could push the young writer over the edge to an admit or merit award that might not have been justified by grades or test scores alone.

Chuck SlatePresidentCollege Advisors,LLC

What makes a great college essay?

(1.) Originality: You can’t FORCE yourself to be funny or to write with great Wisdom. You CAN FORCE YOURSELF to sit down in a quiet room WITH NO MEDIA (ipod, iphone, itunes, web, tv, etc etc.) and take a blank sheet of paper and begin to create something that NO WRITER could do as well as you–remember events or experiences from your life. The reason independent college counselors or essay coaches–and this is a generality- could be more helpful is that often (not always) they spend more time and effort up front on COACHING the essay for topic, originality, creativity and HOW to approach writing. What many parents (who may love you, but often just are NOT good writers themselves) or an overworked guidance counselor does is to take a trite, or unoriginal or hackneyed essay and dwell on punctuation and spelling. It’s like going to the junk yard and waxing a rustly heap. Wouldn’t you rather design your own Ferrari?? (2). Consistency: Your essay may visibly tie in to your resume and your interview or it may appear not to, but their should be a sense of consistency as to WHO you are. Either through your activities and experiences, or more subtely, how you think and feel about things. (3). Hook: This is one of those concepts often bandied around by counselors. In an essay it could refer to a title which keeps you wondering why you chose it until the end, or an idea buried in the essay which comes out in an unexpected fashion. A “hook” isn’t a necessity, but if one develops while you are pulling things together, it may show a level of intellect that could push the young writer over the edge to an admit or merit award that might not have been justified by grades or test scores alone.

Tana Taylor-JukoEnglish Instructor

What makes a great college essay?

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 Example: 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.

Margaret TungStrategistYale University

What makes a great college essay?

Honesty, thoughtfulness, and proofreading. Sometimes, a sense of humor doesn’t hurt, if it’s applicable to your subject and/or that moment in your life.

Lora LewisEducational ConsultantLora Lewis Consulting

The Five Traits of an Awesome College Essay

You’ve filled in all the applications. Your teachers have submitted their letters of recommendation. You’ve sent in your transcripts and SAT scores. The only thing left to do is the thing you’re dreading the most: Write your admissions essays. The blank page can be daunting, and those short little essay prompts can be downright intimidating. But if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, you can write a compelling essay you’ll be proud to submit. Here are five things to keep in mind before your fingers hit the computer keys. A great college essay: 1) Addresses the prompt (assuming a specific prompt is given). While you are drafting and revising, stop to ask yourself: Am I answering the question the college is asking me? 2) Reflects your unique voice. Don’t waste time trying to sound “collegiate” or scouring the thesaurus for big words to make your essay sound formal. Your essay should sound like you and let the reader “hear” who you are and what makes you a unique individual. That’s what colleges are interested in; not (unless you’re studying acting) in how well you can pretend to be someone else. 3) Is genuine. You don’t have to spill your guts in your college essay, but it’s important to be authentic in your self-expression. Write about your own ideas and experiences and do so from an honest place in your heart. Forget about trying to guess what colleges want you to say and simply say what’s meaningful to you. 4) Is well-written. Your essays doesn’t have to be perfect (if you could write a publishable essay, why would you be going to college in the first place?), but it should adhere to the standards of a high quality essay and be relatively error free. One draft won’t do it. Write, get feedback, revise, proofread. Repeat. 5) Be your own essay. Writing college essays is stressful, especially if you don’t consider yourself a strong writer, you’re pressed for time, or you’re otherwise struggling. When you feel like so much is riding on a single piece of writing, the task can be daunting and even paralyzing. Persevere and resist any temptation to put forth an essay that is anything less than 100% your own work. Getting feedback, suggestions and proofreading help from friends, teachers, parents and counselors is fine, but it should never go beyond the level of “workshopping” support you’d receive in any classroom writing situation.

Sarah ContomichalosManagerEducational Advisory Services, LLC

What makes a great college essay?

A great college essay is one in which the student’s voice and though process comes through clearly. It should be consistent with the rest of the application and showcase an aspect of the student not highlighted in the rest of the application. It is also well written and grammatically correct.

Chris PowersCollege Counselor and Philosophy TeacherPowers College Counseling

What makes a great college essay?

TYPICAL ESSAYS REQUIRED MAJOR ESSAY (500 words), YOUR ACADEMIC INTEREST, YOUR MOST IMPORTANT ACTIVITY, and WHY THIS UNIVERSITY THE BEST FOR YOU The most important element in each essay you write is YOU! After all, there is only one person exactly like you … with your experience, your ideas, your actions and reactions, your feelings, your mental acuity, your philosophy of life, your passion for sports, music, helping those less fortunate than you … you possess a genuine uniqueness. It is YOU that the admission’s committee is trying to evaluate. Therefore, what better way to communicate the very essence of you than by writing an original and truly impressive college essay. GUIDELINES Take TIME … time to explore ideas, think about your many choices, and time to write and re-write. You can complete your application form in an hour or two. Writing your major essay and several auxiliary ones takes many hours. Aim for BALANCE. If your write a comical, ironical, or satirical essay, be sure that you show a serious or thoughtful side of yourself as well. Use realistic VOCABULARY. The Thesaurus can be your worse enemy. Real people read your words, and your words must reflect a real person, not a dictionary. Use the STYLE that exemplifies your strength. Don’t attempt to be funny when you have never written a funny essay in your life. This is definitely not the time to take a risk. If possible, use ANECDOTES, or examples, when you write your essay. When you write about a person that influenced your life, tell a real story. If you have participated in a meaningful community service project, make it come to life with specific examples. Give people names, describe places, and relate feelings. Any reference you make to literature, current events, historical events, must be absolutely accurate. Never offend the reader. Avoid political opinions, religious references, ethnic references or unacceptable language. The technical and grammatical aspect of every essay must be perfect. Grammar, spelling, usage, and vocabulary should be correct. STRATEGY Follow directions. You will be evaluated on whether or not you answer the question that is posed on that particular application. While it is good strategy to adapt your essay to fit several essays, be certain to answer the exact question asked. Write a clear, concise, and interesting essay. Don’t count the words unless it is necessary to do so. Grab the attention of the reader! If you have not engaged the curiosity of the reader after the first sentence, you are in trouble. Remember that you are actually engaging the reader in a one-way conversation. You are answering his question; write in a direct and personal manner. In addition to always answering the question, follow any other specific instructions. For example, if you are asked to use ‘only the space provided do just that. If you are asked to limit your response to 300 or 500 words stay within these parameters. Create an essay that can be modified and used for several different schools. WRITING Don’t try to cover too much. Stay on track and stick to the thesis. Think about the things your have read and enjoyed. Writing is usually interesting because of details, not generalities. Keep in mind the ‘why’ and ‘how’ as you write and don’t get lost in the ‘what, when and where’. Be personal. This is your application, your personality. These are your thoughts, your interests, and your experiences. The admissions committee is trying to get to know you through your own words. What you say as well as how you say it are both important. A great idea poorly expressed is wasted. AFTER WRITING PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD, and PROOFREAD. Neatness, accurate spelling, and punctuation, are important. Limit the number of people that you ask to review your essay. Honesty counts! This is YOUR essay. Someone else can read your work for technical accuracy but too much revision removes your personality and creativity. REMEMBER that everything you write, each essay or short answer will be read and evaluated. Your essays are your only true voice in the application process.

Geoff BroomeAssistant Director of AdmissionsWidener University

Stories

We remember things in stories. A good story is memorable. Our mind is created to recall things in stories. You want to be memorable to the counselors who read your app. You want to be memorable to the committee.

Rebecca JosephExecutive Director & Foundergetmetocollege.org

What makes a great college essay?

A great college essay grabs your attention from the first sentence. It takes readers into, through, and beyond the story in 500 words or less. A great essay tells a a unique story that communicates key qualities you can offer the college. That is why a great college essay is personal.This great essay is very visual and helps make you become 3-D for the reader. It starts right away with a specific story from running a marathon in the rain to spilling water on customers–twice– and keeps us engaged from the first word to the last. You can contact me for samples as I collect great essays from the students with whom I work.

Janelle BravermanEducational ConsultantIndependent University Advisors, LLC

What makes a great college essay?

Focused. Purposeful. Authentic. Revealing. Well-written. Now how this is manifested is varied and impossible to generalize.

Janelle BravermanEducational ConsultantIndependent University Advisors, LLC

What makes a great college essay?

Focused. Purposeful. Authentic. Revealing. Well-written. Now how this is manifested is varied and impossible to generalize.

Melanie RomeCollege Admissions CounselorMelanie Rome, College Admissions Counselor

What makes a great college essay?

First and foremost is making sure you answer the prompt or question. Admissions personnel recognize if you are submitting a generic essay and they are looking to make sure that you can follow the directions. You then must make sure you can stay on topic, don’t go off on a tangent as you write. Keep referring back to the prompt to make sure you have strayed in some way that doesn’t answer the prompt. It is also is important that you not just say, “I am a compassionate person. Just relate a story or something that happened to you that SHOWS you have that quality. prompt, call UNIGO to find anecpert in

Megan DorseySAT Prep & College AdvisorCollege Prep LLC

What makes a great college essay?

A great college essays is uniquely YOU. It is well-written with college bound vocabulary and style, but easy to read and somewhat unassuming. Like great works of fiction, these essays clearly paint a picture in the reader’s mind. The main character (YOU) is developed with depth and detail. Great essays are memorable because they distinctively portray their subjects without relying on clichés or formulaic topics. They convey on paper a sense of who the writer is as a person. After reading a great essay, I feel as if I have just had an enlivening conversation with the person even though it was entirely on paper.

Reecy ArestyCollege Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & AuthorPayless For College, Inc.

What makes a great college essay?

Herea are some favorite topics & subjects of to write about: 1. Overcoming adversity 2. A life changing experience, whether religious or otherwise – one of my students wrote about her trek up Medjugorje, and it was awe inspiring 3. Why I must attend XYZ U! 4. We all know what ABC U has to offer the world, let me tell you what I have top offer ABC!

Mike KentFounder / DirectorCollegeMax Counseling

What makes a great college essay?

The best essays are the ones that provide real insight into who you are and how you think. Your essay should definitely provide perspective on you that augments what is found in the rest of your application….perhaps highlighting an area of passion for you that may not otherwise be obvious. The essays that read best are the ones written authentically, and from the heart. Just like a job interview, a college also wants a sense of not only why their school may be right for you, but also what qualities YOU will bring to the college to contribute toward enriching the campus community in some way. Lastly, I always advise students to try this simple test… If you can easily plug in the name of any college into your essay without changing anything else (meaning that there is nothing specific referencing that college), your essay is probably too generic and should be strengthened. Mike Kent CollegeMax Counseling [email protected]

Mike KentFounder / DirectorCollegeMax Counseling

What makes a great college essay?

The best essays are the ones that provide real insight into who you are and how you think. Your essay should definitely provide perspective on you that augments what is found in the rest of your application….perhaps highlighting an area of passion for you that may not otherwise be obvious. The essays that read best are the ones written authentically, and from the heart. Just like a job interview, a college also wants a sense of not only why their school may be right for you, but also what qualities YOU will bring to the college to contribute toward enriching the campus community in some way. Lastly, I always advise students to try this simple test… If you can easily plug in the name of any college into your essay without changing anything else (meaning that there is nothing specific referencing that college), your essay is probably too generic and should be strengthened. Mike Kent CollegeMax Counseling (818) 519-5279

Angela ConleyCollege Admission ExpertVentureForth

What makes a great college essay?

Memorability makes the difference. I absolutely endorse spell checking, at least one second read for grammar and, of course respect for the word limit. However, having read some 5000 or so application essays, poignancy counts. There are essays I read in the 90’s that I remember because they were artfully rendered, made me laugh aloud or moved me to tears. Do not attempt that at which you are not proficient! Write what you know, felt or experienced. Few folks who opined regarding politics, social commentary or world peace are successful. Do your best to add “living color” to your topic and remember, that in 90% of the cases, it’s the one and only way admission reviewers hear your voice. Make that voice as sultry and memorable as Etta James’ “At Last!”

Judy Oberlander

What makes a great college essay?

A great college essay is one that makes your reader want to get to know you better, to engage in a conversation with you. It is an essay that makes your reader laugh or cry or think. It is an essay that truly engages your reader. The best college essays deal with specific examples from the writer’s life. They are not general or abstract, the more details the better. Whether it’s describing an invention, an important experience, or a significant influence, the best essays work their way back to the writer and how he/she was impacted/affected as a person by whatever was described before. The best essays are 20% about the “topic” (the “what”) and 80% about the writer.

Mike KentFounder / DirectorCollegeMax Counseling

What makes a great college essay?

The best essays are the ones that provide real insight into who you are and how you think. Your essay should definitely provide perspective on you that augments what is found in the rest of your application….perhaps highlighting an area of passion for you that may not otherwise be obvious. The essays that read best are the ones written authentically, and from the heart. Just like a job interview, a college also wants a sense of not only why their school may be right for you, but also what qualities YOU will bring to the college to contribute toward enriching the campus community in some way. Lastly, I always advise students to try this simple test… If you can easily plug in the name of any college into your essay without changing anything else (meaning that there is nothing specific referencing that college), your essay is probably too generic and should be strengthened.

Randi HeathmanIndependent Educational ConsultantThe Equestrian College Advisor LLC

What makes a great college essay?

Authenticity! Your essay has to be a true revelation of some facet of YOU – whether it’s your character, how you will contribute to the college/university community, or what your future goals and aspirations are and how a particular school can help you achieve them. (In rare cases, a truly great essay can accomplish all three!) The main trap that most students fall into is responding to the essay prompt in a way that doesn’t make the essay applicable to themselves. (For example, an essay about a student’s hero might elicit a response that names his or her grandfather as that hero – and then the essay ends up telling more about Grandpa than about the student him/herself.). I always tell my students that there’s no time to be humble or shy in an essay – instead, be more self-centered and make it all about you, just this once!

Inna BeilinaStudent

What makes a great college essay?

Your honesty. Your sense of humor. Your sincere vision of life. You confident and easy-readable style. Be concrete, clear and specific! Write from your heart and you’ll definitely stand out! 😉 Good luck!

Inna BeilinaStudent

What makes a great college essay?

Your honesty. Your sense of humor. Your sincere vision of life. You confident and easy-readable approach. Be concrete, clear and specific! Write from your heart and you’ll definitely stand out! 😉 Good luck!

Mary Mariani

What makes a great college essay?

A great college essay gives the college an opportunity to see who you really are. Pick a meaningful experience and take the reader through your process of self-discovery. I assisted a student who wrote about her father. A man that she adored but discovered that he was a cocaine addict. She took the reader through the stages of loving, hating, being disappointed, ashamed and finally acceptance, understanding and again loving while “Dad” was going through treatment. She allowed herself to be vulnerable which made the essay dynamite. Another student talked about the struggles of having learning disabilities and the pain that he experienced during his educational career. You might think, “I don’t have anything like that.” All of us have experiences that have impacted our lives. Sit down with your folks and talk about your family and your “growing-up” years. I’m sure you will find something. Make sure when you write your essay that you don’t just ramble on and on. Follow the five-paragraph or a modified version of that format. You will need a catchy introduction where you pull in your reader, supportive examples, and then a wonderful conclusion where you pull everything together and leave the reader with a smile, a tear, or a wow. The essay really gives you an opportunity to be creative. Allow yourself time and don’t throw it together right at the end. With all the competition trying to get into the good schools, your essay could make the difference.

Corey FischerPresidentCollegeClarity

A great English essay does not always make a great college essay

English teachers have the best intentions when helping students with college essays, but they don’t always understand that a great English essay does not always make a great college essay. It is fine to break out of the 5 paragraph mold for a college essay, and it needs to tell about the applicant. It needs to have heart and depth. The college essay often frightens students because they think it has to be about some extraordinary event and they may not have something momentous to write about–that is OK. Actually, the best college essays I have read have been about mundane, everyday life. What made them great is that the students showed (did not tell) who they were through their writing.

Barak RosenbloomCollege essay mentor, guide and editor essaymentors.com

It makes a bored-to-tears admissions officer say, “Thank You!!”

You want the admissions officer who reads your essay to go home and say “wow, I read 250 essays today. I’m sick of high school students, of their summer trips and grandparents and their views on the Civil War and Romeo and Juliet. But there was this one kid whose essay I brought home for you to read…” You want to be that one kid. Let’s start with what a great essay isn’t: — It isn’t an academic paper. A lot of students I work with have only learned to write well-reasoned essays with a thesis paragraph, evidence paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. Academic essays are important, but they don’t make for compelling personal essays. — It isn’t a sales pitch touting your fantastic features. Proclaiming, “I’m a hard worker, conscientious, funny and tall” isn’t believable. Anyone can say that. Let your recommendations do the job of explicitly saying what a great/talented/funny/thoughtful person you are. — It isn’t about anyone or anything other than you. Franklin Roosevelt is not applying to college, and no matter how much you admire him, he can’t help you. The same with France. A great essay shows you for who you are. It tells a story that illuminates some of your personality or strengths. The ones I find most powerful show learning, growth and self-awareness. Sometimes, the hard work is in understanding yourself. It’s not a skill taught in schools, or in most of our families. But if you can look inside to see how an event or idea changed you, challenged you, helped you grow and learn, or affected your life, then you’re 80% there. Of course, you need to get in on paper in a memorable way. You can bring that poor, bored-to-tears, over-caffeinated admissions officer right into your life and world for 500 words. Help them experience what you’ve experienced, learn what you’ve learned. Maybe read some short stories or articles to get a sense of how this kind of writing is different from academic writing. Find a mentor, editor or teacher who can help guide you through the process of writing something memorable. You have a great essay in you. Everyone does. It may take some time to find it, and it will take more time to write. But when you’re done, it will be something you’ll be proud of and something that can help get you into college.

Barak RosenbloomCollege essay mentor, guide and editor essaymentors.com

It makes a bored-to-tears admissions officer say, “Thank You!!”

You want the admissions officer who reads your essay to go home and say “wow, I read 75 essays today. I’m sick of high school students, of their summer trips and grandparents and their views on the Civil War and Romeo and Juliet. But there was this one kid whose essay I brought home for you to read…” You want to be that one kid. Let’s start with what a great essay isn’t: — It isn’t an academic paper. A lot of students I work with have only learned to write well-reasoned essays with a thesis paragraph, evidence paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. Academic essays are important, but they don’t make for compelling personal essays. — It isn’t a sales pitch touting your fantastic features. Proclaiming, “I’m a hard worker, conscientious, funny and tall” isn’t believable. Anyone can say that. Let your recommendations do the job of explicitly saying what a great/talented/funny/thoughtful person you are. — It isn’t about anyone or anything other than you. Franklin Roosevelt is not applying to college, and no matter how much you admire him, he can’t help you. The same with France. A great essay shows you for who you are. It tells a story that illuminates some of your personality or strengths. The ones I find most powerful show learning, growth and self-awareness. Sometimes, the hard work is in understanding yourself. It’s not a skill taught in schools, or in most of our families. But if you can look inside to see how an event or idea changed you, challenged you, helped you grow and learn, or affected your life, then you’re 80% there. Of course, you need to get it on paper in a memorable way. You can bring that poor, bored-to-tears, over-caffeinated admissions officer right into your life and world for 500 words. Help them experience what you’ve experienced, learn what you’ve learned. Maybe read some short stories or articles to get a sense of how this kind of writing is different from academic writing. Find a mentor, editor or teacher who can help guide you through the process of writing something memorable. You have a great essay in you. Everyone does. It may take some time to find it, and it will take more time to write. But when you’re done, it will be something you’ll be proud of and something that can help get you into college.

Rana SlosbergOwnerSlosberg College Solutions LLC

Great essay

Here are some components of a great college essay: — It gets the admissions officer to learn something important about you that does not appear elsewhere on the application. — It focuses on a narrow topic, that you have firsthand experience with — It is an essay that only you could write. — It relates the essay topic back to you — It includes vivid descriptions, specific details, examples, and anecdotes — It is interesting, well-written, and follows the essay instructions

Rana SlosbergOwnerSlosberg College Solutions LLC

Great essay

Here are some components of a great college essay. It: — Gets the admissions officer to learn something important about you that does not appear elsewhere on the application. — Focuses on a narrow topic, that you have firsthand experience with. — Could only have been written by you. — Relates the essay topic back to you. — Includes vivid descriptions, specific details, examples, and anecdotes — Is interesting, well-written, and follows the essay instructions

Barak RosenbloomCollege essay mentor, guide and editor essaymentors.com

It makes a bored-to-tears admissions officer say, “Thank You!!”

You want the admissions officer who reads your essay to go home and say “wow, I read 250 essays today. I’m sick of high school students, of their summer trips and grandparents and their views on the Civil War and Romeo and Juliet. But there was this one kid whose essay I brought home for you to read…” You want to be that one kid. Let’s start with what a great essay isn’t: — It isn’t an academic paper. A lot of students I work with have only learned to write well-reasoned essays with a thesis paragraph, evidence paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. — It isn’t a sales pitch touting your fantastic features. Proclaiming, “I’m a hard worker, conscientious, funny and tall” isn’t believable. Anyone can say that. Let your recommendations do the job of explicitly saying what a great/talented/funny/thoughtful person you are. — It isn’t a about anyone or anything other than you. Franklin Roosevelt is not applying to college, and no matter how much you admire him, he can’t help you. The same with France. A great essay shows you for who you are. It tells a story that illuminates some of your personality or strengths. The ones I find most powerful show learning, growth and self-awareness. Sometimes, the hard work is in understanding yourself. It’s not a skill taught in schools, or in most of our families. But if you can look inside to see how an event or idea changed you, challenged you, helped you grow and learn, or affected your life, then you’re 80% there. Of course, you need to get in on paper in a memorable way. You can bring that poor, bored-to-tears, over-caffeinated admissions officer right into your life and world for 500 words. Help them experience what you’ve experienced, learn what you’ve learned. Maybe read some short stories or articles to get a sense of how this kind of writing is different from academic writing. Find a mentor, editor or teacher who can help guide you through the process of writing something memorable. You have a great essay in you. Everyone does. It may take some time to find it, and it will take more time to write. But when you’re done, it will be something you’ll be proud of and something that can help get you into college.

Barak RosenbloomCollege essay mentor, guide and editor essaymentors.com

It makes a bored-to-tears admissions officer say, “Thank You!!”

Let’s start at the end: You want the admissions officer who reads your essay to go home and say “wow, I read 250 essays today. I’m sick of high school students, of their summer trips and grandparents and their views on the Civil War and Romeo and Juliet. But there was this one kid whose essay I brought home for you to read…” You want to be that one kid. What a great essay isn’t: — It isn’t an academic paper. A lot of students I work with have only learned to write well-reasoned essays with a thesis paragraph, evidence paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. — It isn’t a sales pitch touting your fantastic features. Proclaiming, “I’m a hard worker, conscientious, funny and tall” isn’t believable. Anyone can say that. Let your recommendations do the job of explicitly saying what a great/talented/funny/thoughtful person you are. — It isn’t a about anyone or anything other than you. Franklin Roosevelt is not applying to college, and no matter how much you admire him, he can’t help you. The same with France. A great essay shows you for who you are. It tells a story that illuminates some of your personality or strengths. The ones I find most powerful show learning, growth and self-awareness. Sometimes, the hard work is in understanding yourself. It’s not a skill taught in schools, or in most of our families. But if you can look inside to see how an event or idea changed you, challenged you, helped you grow and learn, or affected your life, then you’re 80% there. Of course, you need to get in on paper in a memorable way. You can bring that poor, bored-to-tears, over-caffeinated admissions officer right into your life and world for 500 words. Help them experience what you’ve experienced, learn what you’ve learned. Maybe read some short stories or articles to get a sense of how this kind of writing is different from academic writing. Find a mentor, editor or teacher who can help guide you through the process of writing something memorable. You have a great essay in you. Everyone does. It may take some time to find it, and it will take more time to write. But when you’re done, it will be something you’ll be proud of and something that can help get you into college.

. .

What’s Your Brand?

I have all of my clients think about this question for some time and then literally present to me what the “John or Jane Smith brand” is. To write a great college essay, one needs to have a crystal clear understanding of what their brand is and the story they are going to tell. Reason being, when an Admission Counselor or committee gets done reading your essay, even a week or more later, you want them to have a clear visual image of John or Jane Smith. A few other tips that lead to great college essays: 1. Show, don’t tell. 2. Don’t be a martyr. 3. Don’t make excuses; own your life experience to date and articulate what you’ve learned from them. Sincerely, Mike Chapman, Owner Chapman College Admission Consulting www.chapmancac.com

Benjamin CaldarelliPartnerPrinceton College Consulting, LLC

What makes a great college essay?

College application essays are a special literary genre, but they are of course personal. They add further dimensions to an individual’s record and great ones need to be creative, thoughtful, and well written. Most importantly however, a great essay will reveal an aspect of a self that a student has chosen to highlight and a voice that is unique to that self.

Corey FischerPresidentCollegeClarity

A great English essay does not always make a great college essay

English teachers have the best intentions when helping students with college essays, but they don’t always understand that a great English essay does not always make a great college essay. It is fine to break out of the 5 paragraph mold for a college essay, and it needs to tell about the applicant. It needs to have heart and depth. The college essay often frightens students because they think it has to be about some extraordinary event and they may not have something momentous to write about–that is OK. Actually, the best college essays I have read have been about mundane, everyday life. What made them great is that the students showed (did not tell) who they were through their writing.

Barak RosenbloomCollege essay mentor, guide and editor essaymentors.com

What makes a great college essay?

You want the admissions officer who reads your essay to go home and say “wow, I read 75 essays today. I’m sick of high school students, of their summer trips and grandparents and their views on the Civil War and Romeo and Juliet. But there was this one kid whose essay I brought home for you to read…” You want to be that one kid. Let’s start with what a great essay isn’t: — It isn’t an academic paper. A lot of students I work with have only learned to write well-reasoned essays with a thesis paragraph, evidence paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. Academic essays are important, but they don’t make for compelling personal essays. — It isn’t a sales pitch touting your fantastic features. Proclaiming, “I’m a hard worker, conscientious, funny and tall” isn’t believable. Anyone can say that. Let your recommendations do the job of explicitly saying what a great/talented/funny/thoughtful person you are. — It isn’t about anyone or anything other than you. Franklin Roosevelt is not applying to college, and no matter how much you admire him, he can’t help you. The same with France. A great essay shows you for who you are. It tells a story that illuminates some of your personality or strengths. The ones I find most powerful show learning, growth and self-awareness. Sometimes, the hard work is in understanding yourself. It’s not a skill taught in schools, or in most of our families. But if you can look inside to see how an event or idea changed you, challenged you, helped you grow and learn, or affected your life, then you’re 80% there. Of course, you need to get it on paper in a memorable way. You can bring that poor, bored-to-tears, over-caffeinated admissions officer right into your life and world for 500 words. Help them experience what you’ve experienced, learn what you’ve learned. Maybe read some short stories or articles to get a sense of how this kind of writing is different from academic writing. Find a mentor, editor or teacher who can help guide you through the process of writing something memorable. You have a great essay in you. Everyone does. It may take some time to find it, and it will take more time to write. But when you’re done, it will be something you’ll be proud of and something that can help get you into college.

Bill PrudenHead of Upper School, College CounselorRavenscroft School

The Great College Essay: Give Them a Window into You

Few things are as eternal as the search for the great college essay. But given the range of factors that go into the decision making process, it is hard to know if the “successful” essays ones really tipped the balance. That being said, the essay is something you can control so you want to make it good. Quite simply, a great college essay helps illuminate who you are. You need to take the opportunity to present yourself in a way that gives the reader–the potential decision maker–a greater understanding of who you are and what you will bring to the community they are seeking to create. The worst things you can do is write an essay that is generic, one where if your name was replaced by another, the reader could not tell the difference. The people in the admissions office are trying to learn about you and the essay is often the last chance you have to shape their impression and understanding of you. Make it yours.

Mollie ReznickAssociate DirectorThe College Connection

What makes a great college essay?

The personal statement is arguably one of the most important components of a student’s college application. It is the student’s chance to lend his application a third dimension, to transcend his grades and test scores, and figuratively speak to the admissions officers. This opportunity should not be taken lightly. When approaching the personal statement, the cardinal rule students should keep in mind is: if any other person on the planet could have written the same essay, trash it and start over again. The essay at its very core should be PERSONAL. It should reveal positive qualities about the applicant (maturity, responsibility, compassion, commitment, etc) through the lens of an engaging narrative. Tell a story about your life that an admissions officer would find compelling and/or amusing that is a vehicle for showcasing your strength of character.

Nancy MilneOwnerMilne Collegiate Consulting

Great Essays

If you can make the reader laugh, say “I get that” or “me too”, you are on your way to a strong application. In addition, you are sharing something about yourself that is not anywhere else in your application. Finding a cure for cancer, saving the whales singlehandedly, or traveling abroad to build homes for orphans does not automatically make a great essay. It’s all about the delivery, the reflection, the conversational tone, showing not telling that will make for a winning essay.

Laura O’Brien GatzionisFounderEducational Advisory Services

The essay angst

A great college essay is an essay that is interesting, pithy and well written. You want both to keep the reader’s attention and to make the reader want you to be a member of the next freshman class at the reader’s college. Write actively about something you know well. This is your chance to make your application stand out and your one opportunity to have a real voice appear in the file. Tell the reader something about yourself that might not be included in the rest of the application.

Dr. FisherCollege CounselorFisher Educational Consultants

Essays that Work

A great college essay is one that certainly doesn’t repeat what is written on the rest of your application. The college desires to know about you not the character in a book. Who are you? What motivates you? What challenges have you encountered and how have you dealt with those situations. I tell students the following: The admissions official has just read 25 essays and is falling asleep. Lo and behold your essay is next as his/her eyes begin to close. Will the first few sentences keep the admissions person up and eager to read your essay. If the answer is no, start again. Also, I ask the following: In each paragraph of the essay, what did admissions learn about you that they did not already know. Piece together all the things one found out about you and what did the college admissions person now know about you that made them back you for admissions.

Kathryn Lento

Authenticity…your voice!

This is an opportunity for you to tell a story that you connect with in your own voice. The reader should learn something important about you through the story that might not come through in your application. As a reader, I want to finish an essay and say this kids is funny or brave or caring or clever or an individualist. I don’t want to read it and say, who is this kid?

Barry LiebowitzPrincipalInternational College Counselors

Tips for Writing a College Essay

The personal essay can help you improve your chances for admission. It may be as short as 250 words, but the words you choose can mean the difference between a “maybe” and a “yes”. The essay tells the admissions committee how and why you are different from everybody else. While there is no exact formula for the perfect admission essay, here are some tips you should consider when trying to make a lasting impression on someone who reads 50 to 100 essays a day: Write about yourself. The admissions committee isn’t looking to learn about the American Revolution or Bioresearch, they’re looking to learn about you – your achievements, your obstacles, your goals, your values. Whatever topic you choose to center your essay around, make sure you shine through. Focus on one facet of yourself. Pick one project, one activity, or one passion. Don’t try to cover too many topics in your essay, or you’ll end up with a laundry list of details and activities that won’t give the admissions committee what they’re looking for in the essay: an in-depth look at you. The magic is in the details. Tell a good story. Demonstrate how you are compassionate – don’t just tell readers you are. If you had a difficulty, don’t tell the admissions committee your complaints, tell them how you overcame them. Keep it real. Don’t make things up. If you speak from the heart, it will show and your essay will flow more easily. Choosing something you’ve experienced will also give you the vivid and specific details the admissions committee is looking to see in your essay. Share your opinions, but avoid anything controversial. You don’t know who is going to be reading your essay so you want to appeal to the broadest audience possible. That’s means write nothing about your opinions on what’s wrong with governments or religion, please. Don’t repeat information already in your application. If you’ve taken 7 AP courses in one year, don’t list that you’ve done it or that you did it because you “love to learn” unless this relates directly to the focus of your essay. Admissions officers want to learn something about you from your essay that they can’t learn from reading the other sections of your application. Spend time on your essay. Hemingway didn’t write his stories overnight and neither should you write your essay overnight. The admission committee is looking to see what you can do given the time to brainstorm, rewrite and polish. They are looking to see what topic you chose and what you did with it. An essay won’t help you if it’s sloppy and uninformative. Check your grammar and spelling. Yes, this counts. You can write conversationally, but the grammar and spelling still need to be correct. And don’t solely rely on your computer’s spell check. Often times, the wrong word (spelled correctly) can slip by. And nothing says last-minute essay more than the wrong spelling and grammar. Show the essay to someone who can give you objective feedback. Sometimes you can get too close to the essay and be unable to see it clearly. Other people can often tell if there isn’t enough being revealed, or your essay rambles, or if the humor is falling flat, or if you’re not making the impression you’d want to. Remember, this essay is going to someone who doesn’t know you and is going to be making a big decision on what they’ll learn from it. College advisors at International College Counselors are available to review your essays and help you brainstorm topics. To get on the calendar, call 954 414-9986 or email [email protected]

王文君 June ScortinoPresidentIVY Counselors Network

short and sweet

admissions counselor only has a few min to read your essay and his or her attention is the key here. most college essay are very much the same so if you can make your essay stand out, you must delivery a great college essay that the counselor will remember and share with other counselors. a great college essay must use personal experiences to delivery a big message focused on passion of learning, motivation for excellences, and personal value in contributing to community as a whole.

Tam Warner MintonConsultantCollege Adventures

Be original

Do you have any idea how many essays are written about summer camp, admiring your mom or dad, how terrorism is a bad thing, and your resume? BORING. Try to be original with your topic. It is okay if you have something different to say in one of these essay topics, but most of them are depressingly similar. BE CREATIVE. Use your own voice. Write in the first person. Write as if you are speaking with someone, expressing yourself on a given topic. Of course it must be well written, but the admission committee wants to hear what you think, what you feel, what you would do. Eliminate unnecessary words. ? Okay: “Over the years it has been pointed out to me by my parents, friends, and teachers — and I have even noticed this about myself, as well — that I am not the neatest person in the world.” ? Better: “I’m a slob.” Don’t Forget to Proofread Typos and spelling or grammatical errors can be interpreted as carelessness or just bad writing. Don’t rely on your computer’s spell check. It can miss spelling errors like the ones below. ? “After I graduate form high school, I plan to work for a nonprofit organization during the summer.” ? “From that day on, Daniel was my best fried.” If you are funny, be humorous. If you are intellectual, be philosophical. If you are creative, be original and write an essay that will stand out.

王文君 June ScortinoPresidentIVY Counselors Network

short and sweet

admissions counselor only has a few min to read your essay and his or her attention is the key here. most college essay are very much the same so if you can make your essay stand out, you must delivery a great college essay that the counselor will remember and share with other counselors. a great college essay must use personal experiences to delivery a big message focused on passion of learning, motivation for excellences, and personal value in contributing to community as a whole.

Zahir RobbCollege CounselorThe Right Fit College

What makes a great college essay?

Be specific and highlight traits that speak to your talents and interests. Don’t be vague and make sure you answer the prompt. Most of all, be yourself. When you try to impress an admissions officer, it can often appear that way and seem inconsistent with who you are. Use this space to show the school something special, be proud of who you are and let it shine through your written response.

Susan Knoppow

What makes a great college essay?

I will leave this answer to an expert. Johns Hopkins University Associate Director of Admissions Calvin Wise told us he isn’t fazed when he sees impressive grades and test scores on applications for admission. But his adrenaline gets pumping when he reads a great essay. “I never run into a colleague’s office and say ‘look at this 4.0 GPA,’ ” Wise told Wow during a phone interview. ”I will run into an office with a good essay to share; that excites me.We are looking for your story. We want to know what makes you different, unique. We want to know who you are. Academically, we are glad you’ve done well. What did an experience mean to you? How did it shape you?” We asked Wise what makes an application essay stand out for Johns Hopkins admissions committee members. “Essays that really show an applicant’s character and personality stand out the most to me. The goal is to read the application and feel like I know the student without having met them. The essay is the only place a student has an opportunity to talk to a college. Teens look forward and into the future, and they don’t spend much time looking backward. Having that type of reflection means the most to us in the admissions office.”

Susan Knoppow

What makes a great college essay?

I will leave this answer to an expert. Johns Hopkins University Associate Director of Admissions Calvin Wise told us he isn’t fazed when he sees impressive grades and test scores on applications for admission. But his adrenaline gets pumping when he reads a great essay. “I never run into a colleague’s office and say ‘look at this 4.0 GPA,’ ” Wise told Wow during a phone interview. ”I will run into an office with a good essay to share; that excites me.We are looking for your story. We want to know what makes you different, unique. We want to know who you are. Academically, we are glad you’ve done well. What did an experience mean to you? How did it shape you?” We asked Wise what makes an application essay stand out for Johns Hopkins admissions committee members. “Essays that really show an applicant’s character and personality stand out the most to me. The goal is to read the application and feel like I know the student without having met them. The essay is the only place a student has an opportunity to talk to a college. Teens look forward and into the future, and they don’t spend much time looking backward. Having that type of reflection means the most to us in the admissions office.”

Kristina DooleyIndependent Educational ConsultantEstrela Consulting

What makes a great college essay?

A great college essay combines creativity, excellent writing, and honesty. The person reading your essay should feel as if they know more about you from reading your essay and they should feel confident that you will be successful with any writing assignments you may be given as a student at their institution. It’s important that your essay be a solid reflection of you as a person and as a student, and that you follow the guidelines provided in terms of topic and word-count.

Reecy ArestyCollege Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & AuthorPayless For College, Inc.

What makes a great college essay?

Herea are some favorite topics & subjects to write about: 1. Overcoming adversity 2. A life changing experience, whether religious or otherwise – one of my students wrote about her trek up Medjugorje, and it was awe inspiring 3. Why I must attend XYZ U! 4. We all know what ABC U has to offer the world, let me tell you what I have to offer ABC!

Reecy ArestyCollege Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & AuthorPayless For College, Inc.

What makes a great college essay?

Here are some favorite topics & subjects to write about: 1. Overcoming adversity 2. A life changing experience, whether religious or otherwise – one of my students wrote about her trek up Medjugorje, and it was awe inspiring 3. Why I must attend XYZ U! 4. We all know what ABC U has to offer the world, let me tell you what I have to offer ABC!

Lily TrayesFounder and CEOIvy League Placement

What makes a great college essay?

Here is my video response to the question.

Allen Regar

What makes a great college essay?

Many books have been written about what makes a great college essay, or even more generally, a great essay of any variety. To be succinct, however, there are a few general rules that will help you write an essay that will draw positive attention from the admissions counselors who read your essay. 1. The essay has to feel authentic. This is not a place to brag about your GPA or standardized test scores. It should be a window into who you are as a person, a human being with unique experiences and a perspective on the world that you call your own. 2. The essay has to be about the writer, i.e., you. But it not only has to be about you: it has to be about you in a way that no one else is like you. Your job is to write about yourself as an individual that stands out amongst the other students applying to the same college. Horror stories have been told about the number of essays that are written about summer camp or the winning football game. Be wary of these and other topics! Many other students write about them, as well, and unless you believe that you have a really, really different perspective, avoid throwing yourself into the pile of humdrum essays on the same topic. Think instead about how you can bend a little to the unusual, the catchy, the thing that makes the college admissions officer sit up and read a little more closely. This is not just about your skill as a writer, but about your experiences, about your *life*. Who are you, at the core of your being? Share that through the words you put on the page. 3.The essay must be clearly written and grammatically correct. Even an essay that tells a great story and serves a meaningful introduction to the student’s personality can be marred by run-on sentences, comma splices, and lack of capitalization (the last of which, though stylistically acceptable in text messages and friendly emails, is a major no-no in the college essay). Read, re-read, revise, and revise again. And revise again until you are certain that the words flow and that you have eliminated any embarrassing grammatical gaffes. Remember, you are applying to college, and though a grammatically impeccable essay might not be the one thing that gets you in, poor editing and unchecked mistakes can leave a lasting negative impression on a reviewer.

William Chichester

What makes a great college essay?

Avoid current issues (b/c everyone will write about it) Choose topics that genuinely interest you Be specific Colleges value “uniqueness” they want different people with different interests and backgrounds Avoid sob stories Get your essays reviewed by lots of trusted advisors, mentors and your English teacher(s) and be open to feedback

Helen H. ChoiOwnerAdmissions Mavens

Telling Your Story

A great college essay gives the reader a glimpse of the person behind the page. Lots of counselors tell students to “tell a story only you can tell,” and I definitely agree with that. But sometimes students misinterpret this to mean — “tell me about a totally unique experience” — and they get totally stressed out because they don’t feel that they have any unique experiences. Telling a story “only you can tell” means that you tell the reader a story from your perspective. So you don’t need to have great exotic vacations or heartbreaking stories of community service in some far off land — you just need to reveal your point of view about a topic. Let us know about your feelings and opinions. When you can show the reader a slice of your genuine self — you are on your way to a great college essay. The uniqueness of an essay stems not from some external experience, but your internal responses.

Suzan ReznickIndependent Educational ConsultantThe College Connection

A great essay will give your application a third dimension!

The ultimate point of a college essay is to engage and hopefully convince the reader that you would be an asset on that campus. You need the essay to wow them with your personal qualities while sharing an engaging story, perhaps- a snapshot of your life. The tone could be funny or sad, reflective or poignant, but you NEED that reader to like you, so that they would support your application in admissions. If your essay does not reveal some sense of your best personal qualities are i.e. maturity, leadership or compassion then it has failed.

Brian D. CrispFounder and PresidentCrisp Consulting + Coaching; Burton College Tours

The Write Stuff

Focus on ways you have internalized and personalized academic research and demonstrate how this will enhance the university’s academic community. Writing about hiking the Appalachian Trail or obsessively reading “To Kill A Mocking Bird” is noble but not memorable. Simply recanting facts will not distinguish you from other candidates with equal class rank, grades and test scores. Instead of recounting your admiration of Atticus Finch or the red pine of the Carolinas, enhance your essay with the research you’ve done on forest preservation for ecological and cultural conservation or the means which Harper Lee challenges notions of race and gender and its specific correlation with your own understanding of humanity. Making your scholarly endeavors personal will pique curiosity and demonstrate your potential to contribute to an academic community.

CRAIG HELLERPresidentwww.CollegeEssaySolutions.com

Five Qualities That Make a Great Application Essay

There are five qualities that make a great application essay. 1. A compelling opening that creates a question in readers’ minds that they must have answered. This propels them into the body of the essay. 2. A subject that is unique. It’s important to remember that Admissions Directors are human. They like variety; they want to be entertained, moved. Reading so many essays, there is a tendency to slump a bit in their chair, when that old familiar, “Why Grandpa Meant So Much to Me” essay comes around again. The applicant’s job then, is to get the AD to sit straight up, thinking, “Well, here’s one I haven’t read this week.” 3. Emotion. The essay should not read like a business report. The best essays contain an emotional content that usually stems from the applicant’s passion for the topic. If the essay expresses legitimate emotion, it will usually stir it in the reader. 4. That next step. The essay should go beyond the story the applicant is telling and discuss how that story is going to affect his or her immediate future. This can be a goal that the applicant wants to accomplish on campus, a self starting project, for example, or even beyond, after graduation. This gives the school a sense of what kind of citizen the applicant will be on campus, which can be a real plus in considering admission. 5. A strong close. The summary paragraph should convince the reader that this student is motivated, capable, knows who they are, and will contribute to campus life in interesting ways. But here’s the key. Try not to tell the reader those things, illustrate them by the depth and perception of your final thoughts. The old show business adage is “always leave them wanting more.” In the college application essay game, it’s “always leave them wanting you.”

Ellen [email protected]OwnerEllen Richards Admissions Consulting

Top five tips for writing college application essays and why these tips work

Now is the time to get started thinking about writing essays for early admissions, and here are five tips for writing college application essays and why these tips work: 1. Market yourself, not a story. You can tell the best story in the world, but if it doesn’t provide insight on your accomplishments then it fails to market yourself. The reader should have a much better sense of you and your achievements and future goals. For example, I remember a friend who wrote her essay for Harvard about how her parents took a mission trip to Africa and that inspired her to dedicating her life to improving healthcare for the poor. While heartwarming, it had two problems: It didn’t highlight any of her accomplishments It showed very limited insight into her personality She was waitlisted. And while the essay wasn’t the only reason, it didn’t help. 2. Don’t be modest! This is a common problem with overachievers. Having done many impressive things, they then downplay their success, with comments and phrases like: “There are so many other qualified students who want to get into Harvard” or “I will be incredibly lucky if you accept me to Stanford – I know many others deserve it Do NOT say stuff like that. Perhaps honest, and unfailingly nice, it does nothing for you. Now, don’t go around bragging about how you’re the smartest chemistry student since Marie Curie. But don’t downplay your accomplishments – be proud of them. Sincerely describe how hard it was to win first place in Academic Decathlon, or top prize at the State UIL contest. Be confident and be your biggest fan – if you’re not, admissions offices are liable to overlook your application in place of someone who acts like they deserve it. 3. Use anecdotes and stories A good story is priceless. Remember my friend above who wants to change the world of healthcare for the poor? Exactly. While the purpose of her essay was misguided, her use of a vivid story certainly caught my attention enough to remember it all these years later. Remember, admissions committees host actual committees to discuss a lot of the potential candidates – particularly ones that are on the border of acceptance and waitlisting. You want memorable stories in your essay that they can refer back to, that they can quote, that they can point to and say, because of what this student did, they deserve to come to Stanford. You want to be able to be the “So and so guy” when they are looking for something on the tip of their tongue. Your essays are your best chance at making that happen. Use powerful imagery and personal anecdotes whenever you can. Leave readers with a lasting impression and it will serve you well come decision time. 4. Reiterate achievements; don’t reiterate a narrow interest Similar to the first point, you want to brag a little bit in your essays without overdoing it. But when you brag – make sure you brag about your most impressive accomplishments, rather than filling up a page with a list of runner up awards. But whatever you do, make sure you link your accomplishments back to your success. Don’t talk about the time you let the opposing time score 14 earned runs in one inning while you were pitching, UNLESS you also talk about how that propelled you eventually to a no-hitter and the state championship. Don’t talk about your first published short story, UNLESS you also describe how that success led you to commit to fiction writing, eventually winning national recognition and driving your desire to become a student of creative writing. You get the drift. Too often, students will discuss a small accomplishment that had great personal significance but limited significance to the university. The best candidates describe accomplishments that had both – and those are the successful ones. 5. Don’t name drop when it doesn’t make sense Essays that include sentences like the following: “Harvard has been my dream school because my friend Ryan Smith is a Harvard freshman and I’ve always looked up to him.” “I think Stanford would be a great match for me because my older sister is currently a junior there, and our personalities have always been very similar.” Make no sense. It gets even worse when people name-drop various professors, university alums, etc Randomly mentioning a person you know goes to the university does not make the university want you anymore. Only name-drop if mentioning that name is a KEY PART of the story you are telling in your application essay, So only name-drop if, without the name, your essay would lose meaning. If you do it wrong, at best it will be ignored. At worst it will make you look fake. Not helpful.

Wendy Andreen, PhD

It’s All About You!

Essays are an integral part of the college application. Essays need to be both technically/grammatically correct and engaging. They are a place where the student becomes three dimensional. I explain to students that when the reader is captivated by the essay, it is as though you are sitting in the room with the reader sharing your story personally. Even my students who argue that they are not ‘creative’ writers can produce excellent essays when they find a unique perspective to a topic that evokes passion and enthusiasm. (I have seen engineering-minded students demonstrate written enthusiasm over robotics!) A very wise college admissions representative once shared with me (and an audience of parents and students) that the essay should be no more than 20% about introducing the topic (significant person, significant event, etc.) and at least 80% about the student. That 80-85% should be rich with examples and illustrations. When the reader finishes the essay, he doesn’t want your ‘significant person’ or ‘event’ to outshine you. The reader wants to remember you and your story!

Jan HaleCollege Admissions AdvisorIndependent

What makes a great college essay?

A good college essay is one that stays with the reader after he or she finishes reading it, maybe even thinking about it later that day, or the next day. When possible, select a topic that engages you and is one you are interested in addressing. It is important that your voice comes through and that the reader feels he or she has had an opportunity to experience a more personal facet of your character and your unique perspective. Show not tell – very important. Avoid cliches at all cost and never write what you think someone wants to hear. When you are finished with the essay, read it out loud (to yourself) and carefully listen to the content, grammar, and pay attention to spelling or word glitches.

Save time. Let us search for you.

Narrow down over 1,000,000 scholarships with personalized results.

Get matched to scholarships that are perfect for you!

START YOUR SEARCH