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.
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.
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.
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.
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.