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October 30, 2020

Tips on How to Write the Best College Essay — What Are Schools Looking For?

It takes a lot of hard work to craft strong college applications. You need to secure official transcripts, do as well in your classes as possible and write a knock-out essay (sometimes called a personal statement). Believe it or not, that written component is one of the top five most important factors schools consider in their admissions decisions.

So, how do you compose the best college essay you can? These tips can help you prepare for writing success.

7 TIPS ON HOW TO WRITE A COLLEGE ESSAY

Every student is capable of crafting a great personal statement for their college application. These pointers can help you get started.

1. DETERMINE YOUR TOPIC

It’s likely that you’re a bit uncertain of what topic you should select for your essay. Perhaps you feel as though you haven’t experienced anything particularly noteworthy. In truth, it’s more important to focus on what you’re passionate about than what shows you’ve led an extraordinarily unique life.

If you’re still feeling uncertain about how to proceed, review the essay prompts. Each of them is a bit different, so they may spark an idea or help you recall an experience that would be worth discussing.

2. LAY OUT YOUR STRUCTURE

Your college personal statement should have a beginning, middle and end. You’ll also want to think about how you transition from one part to another. What connections are you making? How are the details you’ve included important to the overall essay? A thoughtful structure can make all the difference as you think through how to write a college essay.

The exact way your essay will take shape really depends on your topic. There are numerous types of structures students typically use, so think about which ones could help you best convey your thoughts.

3. KEEP YOUR AUDIENCE IN MIND

When you start writing — and you should start sooner rather than later — it’s wise to remember that your essay is really intended for admissions officers. They don’t know you or understand what makes you tick — plus they’re reading a lot of essays. All this means you need to be clear, concise and avoid any language that feels too familiar or humorous.

4. TELL A STORY

While the best college essays are succinct and precise, that doesn’t mean they’re boring. Given you have so little time to make an impression, grabbing and holding the reader’s attention is essential. Telling a story is one of the best ways to do that. Using compelling narratives has been proven to help people understand concepts in a more meaningful way. In fact, the scientific community has largely adopted storytelling techniques to better connect with each other and other audiences.

5. LET YOUR PERSONALITY SHINE

When writing your college essay, it’s important to focus on conveying who you are as a person. Aside from knowing general information about your academic performance, admissions officers don’t really know anything about you before they pick up your personal statement. They’re looking to gain a sense of what you would bring to their institution. The essay is the only chance you have to convey who you are, so take advantage of the opportunity.

6. SEEK ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE

One of the best ways to ensure your college essay is as good as it can be is to have someone else read it and offer feedback. Getting a second pair of eyes on your writing is a good way to make sure there aren’t typos or other errors throughout.

Additionally, a family member, teacher or mentor who knows you well should be able to identify whether your essay actually sounds like it’s something you would write. They could even suggest you include details you may have omitted.

7. REVISE AND PROOFREAD

The first version of your college essay shouldn’t be the one you actually submit along with your application. You’ll clearly want to adjust as you gather feedback and fine-tune your story. Revising carefully is also essential for ensuring your final product isn’t riddled with misspellings and other errors.

Plan to set aside plenty of time to proofread and correct any mistakes. One very reliable tactic you may want to try is reading your essay aloud. Many writers swear by this strategy for identifying errors or odd phrasing. Slowing down and going through your essay orally can really help you create a polished document. 

CRAFT THE BEST COLLEGE ESSAY YOU CAN

Every aspiring college student’s essay will look a bit different. There’s a reason why this written application component is also called a personal statement. But hopefully these tips can help you end up with the best college essay you’re capable of writing.

As you continue preparing for college, be sure to spend some time thinking about what types of opportunities are most important to you. For many students, being able to gain practical work experiences during college is valuable. Learn more about how maintaining a job as a student can benefit you by reading our article, “Working in College: How Balancing Employment and Education Can Benefit Students.”

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