College Essay Tips
Write an Effective
A great application essay will present a
vivid, personal, and compelling view of you to the admission staff. It
will round out the rest of your application and help you stand out from
the other applicants. The essay is one of the only parts of your
application over which you have complete control, so take the time to do a
good job on it. Check out these tips before you begin.
Keep Your Focus Narrow and Personal
Your essay must prove a single point or
thesis. The reader must be able to find your main idea and follow it from
beginning to end. Try having someone read just your introduction to see
what he or she thinks your essay is about.
Essays that try to be too comprehensive end
up sounding watered-down. Remember, it's not about telling the committee
what you've done -- they can pick that up from your list of activities --
instead, it's about showing them who you are.
Develop your main idea with vivid and
specific facts, events, quotations, examples, and reasons. There's a big
difference between simply stating a point of view and letting an idea
unfold in the details:
like to be surrounded by people with a variety of backgrounds and
that night, I sang the theme song from Casablanca with a baseball coach
who thinks he's Bogie, discussed Marxism with a little old lady, and
heard more than I ever wanted to know about some woman's gall bladder
Avoid clichéd, generic, and predictable
writing by using vivid and specific details.
want to help people. I have gotten so much out of life through the love
and guidance of my family, I feel that many individuals have not been as
fortunate; therefore, I would like to expand the lives of others."
Mom and Dad stood on plenty of sidelines 'til their shoes filled with
water or their fingers turned white or somebody's golden retriever
signed his name on their coats in mud. I think that kind of commitment
is what I'd like to bring to working with fourth-graders."
Don't Tell Them What You Think They Want to
Most admission officers read plenty of essays
about the charms of their university, the evils of terrorism, and the
personal commitment involved in being a doctor. Bring something new to the
table, not just what you think they want to hear.
Don't Write a Resumé
Don't include information that is found
elsewhere in the application. Your essay will end up sounding like an
autobiography, travelogue, or laundry list. Yawn.
"During my junior year, I played first
singles on the tennis team, served on the student council, maintained a
B+ average, traveled to France, and worked at a cheese factory."
Don't Use 50 Words When Five Will Do
Eliminate unnecessary words.
the years it has been pointed out to me by my parents, friends, and
teachers -- and I have even noticed this about myself, as well -- that I
am not the neatest person in the world."
Don't Forget to Proofread
Typos and spelling or grammatical errors can
be interpreted as carelessness or just bad writing. Don't rely on your
computer's spell check. It can miss spelling errors like the ones below.
"After I graduate form high school,
I plan to work for a nonprofit organization during the summer."
"From that day on, Daniel was my best
This article is based on information found in
The College Application Essay, by Sarah Myers McGinty.
Sample College Essays