7 Road-Tested Tips for Writing Winning College Application Essays

girl thinking about college application essays

Just how important is a college application essay?

School admission officers take into account several important factors in selecting which students to admit. These include your grades and test scores. What about college application essays?

According to higher education consultants, as more and more people are going to college, the playing field becomes more competitive and every little advantage you gain can go a long way in improving your chances of getting into the school you are targeting. Quite simply, a good college application essay can help you stand out among other applicants.

Qualities of a good application essay

One of the key mistakes applicants make is to think of the essay as a minor requirement. This thinking leads them to allocate a minimal amount of resources toward essay writing.

The truth is that writing a college application essay that will wow admission officers takes much time and effort.

There are several qualities that college applications that stand out share.

Honest
Avoid trying to impress your readers to the point that you make up stories. In short, be honest.

Concise
Remember that the people who will be reading your paper will have to read other papers, too. Although most schools do not impose an upper limit in terms of word count, make your essay reasonably short without sacrificing quality.

Unique
Your goal is to distinguish yourself from the other applicants. Instead of focusing on your activities and interests, offer the readers an insight into your mind.

Humor, when used tastefully and subtly, can enthrall readers. Some opt to focus on controversial topics to make their essays stand out. Remember, colleges and universities emphasize critical thinking. However, avoid going overboard and subscribing to extremes.

Coherent
Remove the fluff and focus on a few key points which highlight the qualities that will make you a good fit for the school. Removing the inessential will give your essay more focus and coherence.

Accurate
If you are going to mention facts and figures, make sure that you check the accuracy of these.

Evocative
Good college application essays strive to tell compelling stories. In order to do that, you will need to provide pertinent details.

Writing tips to help wow your readers

Awareness of the qualities of good college application essays will help you in crafting your paper and minimize errors which can ruin your chances of getting admitted to the college or university of your choice.

But apart from these, there are a few helpful tips that you should follow.

Start ASAP
Starting at the soonest possible time will help you achieve a few key benefits. First, you will have ample time to pick a suitable topic and conduct thorough research.

Second, you can write at a comfortable pace. When you write at a hurried pace, the quality of your paper can take a nosedive.

Third, you will have ample time for self-editing and you can ask other people to check your work. You will also gain more time to implement the changes recommended by the people you trust.

Choose your topic carefully
Your choice of topic can either boost your chances of getting admitted or get your application rejected.

As much as possible, avoid topics that show you lack judgment or maturity. On the converse side of the coin, avoid playing it too safe as this can leave an impression that you are boring.

Avoid topics which are too personal, those that detail bad judgment on your part, or those that make you look cocky.

Some students gamble with controversial topics. Handled correctly, these topics can impress readers, especially if you show off your critical thinking skills. If you opt for this route, avoid making your essay look like a long-winded rant. Balance your ideas with facts and be objective by highlighting a few important details about the other side of the argument.

Be conversational
Think of your essay as a means to talk to your readers. Write as if you are talking in front of someone.

In turn, this will allow your writing to flow naturally. Plus, the college admissions officers can get to know you better.

The easiest way to be conversational in your writing is to use the first person perspective. This can also give your paper a good measure of authenticity.

Tell your story
Instead of straining to impress your readers, focus on the story that you want to tell. College admission officers are looking for both authenticity and critical thinking. And you won’t be able to show these if you are trying too hard to tell a story that you are only vaguely familiar with.

Draw inspiration from the success of others
Another reason why you should start writing your essay early is to give you enough time for research. During your research, look for examples of high-quality essays and look for the things that worked for the advantage of the writers.

Pay attention to details
If you have been applying to several learning institutions and if you have written a few essays before, writing another one may lead you to believe that the instructions are all the same.

Do not fall into this trap. Read and reread the instructions and follow these closely. The minor details you may have missed can haunt you later on.

Have someone else check your paper
Do not rely on a spell-checker to catch simple typos, punctuation errors and grammatical mistakes. Read and reread your essay and then ask someone else to go over it, preferably someone with proofreading or college essay editing skills.

Why ask someone else to go over your work? As you read and edit your essay for a few times, you may gloss over the mistakes that you thought you have already caught and corrected. Fresh eyes can easily catch those mistakes for you.

Writing a college application paper is no simple task. But with proper preparation, attention to detail, and patience, you can craft a college application essay that will help increase your chances of getting admitted to your dream school.



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