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Tips to Help Stay Focused When Writing the Essay for College Applications

Tips to Help Stay Focused When Writing the Essay for College Applications

Author: Kurt Magnus

The “Why (this college)?” Question

College admissions officers recruit students who demonstrate sincere interest in attending their college. Your essay about the college must include details that convey your passion about the school. Make sure the readers know specifically why you want to attend the college and how you will fit.

Would I want this person as my roommate?

Admissions offers decide who best fits into the on-campus community. They ask themselves, “Would I want to be this person’s roommate?” or “Would I want to sit in the dining hall and eat dinner with this person?” and “What will this student offer to classroom discussions?” Make your intellectual curiosity shine through. Share facts about yourself that they cannot know from other parts of your application.

Show (don’t tell) a story

Everyone loves a good story. If you want to tell about a compelling experience, focus on the moment that made the difference. By delving into your soul and revealing who you are, the admissions officers will get to know you better. A good story-teller can make even a mundane or simple situation seem exciting and though provoking. The heart of the essay resides in the details – bring the reader along with you on the journey your essay depicts.

Make every sentence count

Edit, edit, edit. Say what you want to say, and that’s it. You have limited space to convey an idea; focus on doing that well. Admissions officers will stop reading a boring, redundant or off-topic essay.

“The Perfect Essay” does not exist

Do not choose a topic you think admissions officers expect or one you think will impress them. You do not need to tell the readers how you plan to change the world.
No one is perfect – and college admissions officers know this.

Everyone encounters personal trials in their lives. Some applicants avoid sharing their challenges and think that the admissions officers will perceive them as weak. Admissions officers want to read your story. Your experiences and reaction to them tell the admissions officers so much more than test scores or grades every can. Create good title for essay, take a risk and be honest.

Use evidence and avoid generalizations

When you reference any adjective that describes you or mention an experience, offer anecdotes as support. The generalizations serve as a springboard into more interesting stories. You must support the profile of yourself that you want them to know about.

Abide by the word limit

We all learn how to follow directions and abide by guidelines in elementary school. Do not choose your college application as the opportunity to rebel. Ignoring the word limit could send the admissions officers the wrong message.

Grammar and mechanics

Use active voice throughout the essay. Avoid spelling mistakes and grammatical mistakes. Have a grammar expert pick apart your essay to before you submit it.

The Kiss of Death

Write your own essay. Parents, independent counselors or friends should not write your essay for you. Admissions officers know the grades you received in English, and they can download your SAT and ACT essays and compare them with your application essay. Do not try to deceive admissions officers.

The best essays are the ones that make the reader laugh or cry

College admissions officers will attest to the fact that most college admissions essays do not stand out. However, essays that compel them to laugh or cry rank among the most noteworthy; if an essay conveys your genuine feelings then that will shine through and affect the reader.

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