Need Help Writing Your College Essay?

 

 

 

 

 

 

While it can seem daunting, the personal essay serves an important role in the college application process. Alongside your grades, test scores, extracurricular activities, and recommendations the essay allows you to add your unique voice to your application. The essay is a chance for a college to get to know you and what you could bring to the campus community. It gives your application personality and pizzazz. While it might seem stressful, following a few simple tips can help make writing that college application essay a little bit easier.

Getting started
Be sure to leave yourself plenty of time! Start your essay early rather than waiting until the last minute. Look over the prompt or prompts on your application. Some colleges have additional, supplemental prompts that offer you a chance to be creative and display your specific interest in the college. Next, spend some time thinking and writing about your prompt. Do what works for you, whether that’s jotting down notes on a post-it, talking through your ideas, or spending some time freewriting. Ideas can come up at any time, so have a pen and paper ready to jot them down. Don’t worry about style or grammar right now; just gather some ideas and start getting them down on paper.

Planning your approach
When choosing your essay prompt, be sure to pick the one you would most like to write about. Many students get so caught up in the essay that they “think” they should write that they don’t actually write about a topic that is important to them. Choose a topic that allows your best self to shine through. Remember, colleges want to know who you are and what you would bring to the school. Your own ideas, experiences, and interests make for the best essay. Don’t hesitate to customize your essay for a particular college. If there’s a reason that you really want to attend College X or something you feel you could contribute to University Y, find a way to work it you’re your essay. Colleges like to know why you’re interested in them specifically. Most importantly, choose a topic that you find interesting, write about something important to you, and don’t worry too much about what other students might be writing.

The writing process
Once you’ve chosen your prompt, write your first draft. Give yourself plenty of time when writing, then walk away. Leave your draft alone for a few days, or even weeks if you have time. Come back to your essay and revise with fresh eyes. Get feedback from family, friends, or tutors. Make sure you’ve really addressed the questions the prompt asked. Ask yourself whether your essay tells the admissions committee what you want them to know about you.

The finishing touches
When giving your essay the final polish, make sure to proofread carefully! Misspellings, choppy or run-on sentences, and other errors can take away from an otherwise excellent essay. Don’t hesitate to ask for proofreading help – fresh eyes can help catch mistakes that you don’t see. Also, be careful if you’re including references to a specific college; College X might not be impressed to read about how passionate you are about University Y. When you’ve written your essay, revised it well, and proofread carefully, it’s time to send it on its way. Congratulate yourself on finishing your essay and be sure to do something fun to reward yourself for all your hard work!

Author: Katie Goetz, Homeworks For Students Tutor

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