Writing a good college application essay

Writing tips and techniques for your college essay. Next lesson. Current timeTotal duration Video transcript - First and foremost when looking at an essay, you're going to be looking things like, their ability to write well and their appropriation for college.


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But we're also using that information to kind of see things like, their resilience and their love of learning and their intellectual curiosity. And without fail students say, yeah I'd love to have that opportunity. And when I ask why? They say because if they were able to get know the admissions committee, the admissions committee would want to admit because they would know them and they would get to know what their about and what makes them unique and special. Where they can write about the things that they've been involved in and things that they've done. I think students get really caught up in thinking that this essay has to emcompass your entire life and it has to be groundbreaking and, you know, publishable quality.

And that's a lot to ask of a high school student.


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So I always advice students to stick to the simple things that you know. And the essays that stand out the most in my mind are about simple, simple things, very everyday topics. It needs to tell a story with passion, using personal, entertaining anecdotes that showcase your character, your interests, your values, your life experiences, your views of the world, your ambitions and even your sense of humor.

It helps if the activity is related to the subject you want to study. For example, Christopher Rim of Command Education Group, which coaches students, remembers that one student who wanted to become a dentist set up a nonprofit and held fund-raisers to distribute toothbrushes, toothpaste and other dental products to homeless shelters. Admissions staff members want to know how your presence will make the college a better place.

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How To Write — And Not Write — A College Essay – Coalition Help Center

Everest or visited space or helped cure a rare disease, then yeah, you should probably mention that at some point. With the right approach, you can still write an essay that wows.

Just take a blank document or sheet of paper, set a timer for minutes, and start writing. These are all jumping off points for the essay. As a writer, words are your paint. Use all the colors. So why do we have a tendency to write vaguely? You have to remember that the person reading your essay knows nothing about you , save for a few basic statistics. Furthermore, they likely know nothing about the subject of your essay. To close this gap, you need to be as specific as possible.

The Best Ways and Main Purpose of Writing a College Application Essay

The first time I marched in front of a crowd, I was so nervous. We got into formation, took the field, and began to play. It was all a blur, and before I knew it, it was over. As I walked off the field after that first performance, I felt prouder than I ever had. But it could be way more specific. The first time I marched in front of a crowd, I was so nervous that I could barely hold up my saxophone.

As we stood there on the football field ready to begin, I looked up into the stands and noticed for the first time how huge the crowd was. So many eyes on me. What if I screwed up?

Admissions essays

Before I had time to think, though, I saw the drum major take the stand and give the signal. I brought my instrument to my lips and did everything just as we had rehearsed. The next five minutes were a blur. After the last note had faded, we turned in formation and marched off the field.

Leaving the field that day was the first time I realized the power of devoting everything I had to a goal and following through. See the difference? Note all the details.

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A good rule of thumb is this: write what you think is enough detail…and then write twice as much. The right amount is probably somewhere between the two.


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Many admissions essays focus too much on what happened and not enough on how it made you feel and what you learned from it. To do this, you need to get away from simply summarizing events. When writing about an experience like this, it can be really easy to get wrapped up in all the cool things that happened. You need to talk about what you learned, about how this experience changed you, and how it helped form who you are today. Once again, the key is to be specific. Want some examples?