Applying to college can be overwhelming—especially when it comes time to complete the dreaded essay. The essay is your opportunity to bring your application to life and let the admissions team get to know you. While it can seem like a daunting task, here are some tips and tricks to help you write an effective and memorable college essay.
- Choose a topic you’re connected to. Your essay is a chance to show who you are beyond your grades and test scores. After looking at the essay prompts, brainstorm ideas and really think about what is important in your life. What are you passionate about? What’s your proudest moment? What barriers have you had in your life, and how did you overcome them? Use your experiences—inside and outside the classroom—to showcase why you’re a great fit for the college.
- Make an outline. An outline is a great tool to organize your thoughts and ideas into one concise page. It’s important to keep rules for your essay, like wordcount and topic points, in mind throughout the planning process. With an outline, you’ll be sure to have an essay that is well-structured, interesting and on-topic.
- Be honest. Just like when you submit anything else, you don’t want to fill out your essay with something that isn’t true. This essay is something that shows what makes you ‘you’. Your passions. Your struggles. The experiences that have brought you to this moment and goal of getting into college. Use what you’ve done and learned to make your essay stand out.
- Let your creativity flow. Colleges receive thousands of applications, which means they read thousands of similar essays. Don’t be afraid to really write about a topic that’s outside the box! Even if it’s about something as small as the first time you had a butterfly land on your nose or that one time you had to figure out how to change a tire in the rain. As long as the topic is true to you, it can be a great college essay topic.
- Edit thoroughly and ask for feedback. While it can be excruciating, it’s extremely important to edit your essay to make sure it’s in tip-top shape. You don’t want an admissions counselor to see that you wrote “defiantly” instead of “definitely” or “keep clam” when you meant to say “keep calm”—these mistakes can potentially make or break your chances of being accepted. Take a day-long break after your initial edit, then read it again with fresh eyes, out loud, to spot any spelling and grammar errors you may have missed. It helps to ask a friend, parent and/or teacher for feedback to make sure you effectively get your points across.