University applications have been opened, which means that potential students are finalizing their papers and editing their university essays in the hopes of finding their perfect match.
While this can be a daunting task, it is nonetheless rewarding. Universities and colleges receive many applications each year. So here are some tips that might help you make your college essay shine. You will also find advice from Garrett Addison, one of the Chapman University Admissions Advisors.
1. Start preparing early.
While it’s easy to push something as intimidating as the college essay, you’ll feel better if you take the time to read the prompt posted on the college’s website. This will give you plenty of time to organize your thoughts and plan what you want admissions officers to read.
2. Write about something that is important to you.
The key to a successful college essay is writing about something important to you and telling a good story. If you are not interested in the words on the page, the admission reader will be able to tell. Don’t write a story that you think they want to read, instead tell them what you want them to know. Focus on your greatest passion, captivate the reader and make them remember you.
“Write about something that you are truly passionate about, because your voice will shine through it a lot more. I’ve been reading essays for eight years; it’s clear to me who writes because he has to and who writes because he wants to, ”says Addison.
You will hear this over and over again in life, but being yourself is the best way to set yourself apart. Be honest about what matters to you and don’t be afraid to get personal. The college admissions committee wants to get to know you and see if you are a good fit for their campus.
3. Make sure to reflect in your essay.
You can introduce yourself in this essay, summarizing aspects of your life and why they are important. But you also want to reflect on your past and how that has shaped your present and your future. It is also important to emphasize how college will help you achieve your personal or professional goals. How will the major you choose influence your dreams? If you are in doubt, focus on your passions and what you would like to pursue.
Some people might say that the best college essays share difficult experiences that may or may not have happy endings, but that’s not always the case. This essay is here to show your ambitions and how everyday life has steered you in that direction. Whether or not you have been through something difficult, it is up to you to determine if this experience has influenced your life.
“It doesn’t have to be super grandiose. Sometimes the story can tell about a new passion they stumbled upon. I think the students get stuck in the mindset that it has to be better than everyone’s story, ”Addison says.
4. Answer all the questions asked.
Sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in the story you are trying to tell and forget to answer part of the question. But if you give yourself enough time to plan your trial, it won’t be a problem!
One thing to remember is that you shouldn’t just write on your resume or high school transcript. Admissions officers can learn more about this by looking at these documents, so don’t waste the word space on information they may get elsewhere. Also, since the essay should be relatively short, you should be specific and keep it simple so you don’t ramble. Sometimes less is more.
The whole essay was about this deep passion for ketchup and how they ate ketchup with every meal. They used it to rotate it into how they would have that same passion for their future school.
It can be fun to think outside the box to stand out. You can focus on whatever inspires you, whether it’s something most people write about or not. But writing something that others are focusing on probably isn’t the best option anyway. Likewise, reading common app prompts for inspiration is not the best option. College admissions officers have seen this before; they are looking for something new. If you put too much effort into categorizing your writing, you risk losing the authenticity of the piece.
“There’s one essay that I keep coming back to because it’s equally silly, but very true to who the student is. The first sentence was: “I like ketchup”. The whole essay was about this deep passion for ketchup and how they ate ketchup with every meal. They used it to rotate it into how they would have that same passion for their future school. It’s also a great example that he doesn’t have to be grand at all, ”Addison says.
5. Write several drafts and check your grammar.
Sometimes the best way to write is to rewrite instead of just editing. While it might seem tedious, it allows you to pick the best parts of each draft to create a stellar finished product.
Once you have assembled all the pieces of the puzzle, you can now focus on replaying. While nothing is ever “perfect,” the grammar and spelling should be as perfect as possible. The best way to catch all minor errors is to read the essay aloud. It’s also a great tactic to make sure everything goes smoothly. If you’re stuck reading it aloud, maybe you should rephrase this sentence.
“Structure is important. I’ve read essays that are a big block of text, which you don’t want to do. My biggest pet peeve is that students don’t capitalize the word “I,” ”says Addison.
6. The more people who read your essay, the better.
While no one else should write the essay for you, getting feedback is essential. Sometimes you don’t catch all the little mistakes or places that could be improved upon if you revised your work. Having your essay proofread by parents, friends, or teachers / guardians will help strengthen it. However, make sure that those assisting you do not add their own words to your document. Instead, allow them to advise you and offer suggestions.