A Back-to-Basics Approach to Crafting Your College Essay


February 18th, 2011

Once you’ve decided to go to college, it’s time to start filling out the various forms and applications that colleges seem to need more of each year. This process may require applicants to create an essay on a specific topic that displays their talents and reasons for wanting to attend the school. For people who find writing to be an easy task, the essay portion of the application can be completed without any complications. However, not all applicants are skilled at writing and may become anxious when they get to that part of the process. There are a few tips individuals can keep in mind to make writing simple and stress-free.

  • Think of it as an opportunity. Even though there may be a provided question and a word limit, the essay portion of a college application is a prime opportunity to showcase expertise. Individuals who are not skilled writers can use the chance to exhibit their knowledge on a particular subject or refer to a relevant experience in their life. An essay can easily be turned into a reflection of who the writer is as a person and worthy student.
  • Create a thesis. To avoid any confusion for readers, applicants are encouraged to develop a thesis based on the essay question at hand. Having a focus point and an opinion can make a paper more cohesive and simpler to read. Beginning the writing process with a specific trait of thought in mind can also help individuals avoid over-writing and adding unnecessary “fluff” to the story.
  • Proofread. One of the biggest mistakes that a college applicant can make is failing to proofread their story before submitting it to the admissions board. Typos and grammatical errors are unacceptable in the workplace, and getting into the habit of double-checking work in college will prove to be worthwhile. Administrators who read an essay with a slew of errors may also be more likely to reject an applicant due to the carelessness.
  • Be specific. Although there may be a maximum word requirement for an essay, individuals are encouraged to remember that quality is better than quantity. Being concise and making punctual points throughout a paper can make a story memorable and worthwhile to a college administrator.
  • Do not bog down the essay with facts. Including historical facts can enhance an essay, but adding too much can make a story confusing and difficult to read. Individuals should make note of how many references and facts they use throughout the essay and create a limit. Developing a boundary can help a writer stay on target while composing their paper.
  • Do not write a resume. While it can be beneficial to discuss past experiences, applicants should avoid listing intricate details that could make the essay seem more like a list of details. Not only is this uninviting to the reader, but it is often bland and can lose an administrator’s interest in the piece. The essay should have a natural flow that is constructed with a beginning, middle and end.
  • Do not write to please the reader. Writing honestly is one of the best ways an individual can increase their chances of being accepted into a school for who they are as a person. Attempting to compose a paper to meet the expectations of an administrator is the quickest way to run into writer’s block. All readers have different standards, and it is nearly impossible to pinpoint what is the right and wrong thing to say while writing. Applicants who write honestly can relieve themselves of the stress to impress and concentrate on putting in their best effort.

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