Contributed by Douglas Lee, Case Western Reserve (Class of 2016)
By far, the most challenging part of the college application is the college essay. You might ask yourself, “How can I possibly fully convey my individuality and personal value in 650 words or less?!” but read these tips for some help on how to take on this daunting task.
1. Finding a Topic – This is the big first step in this process. Start by brainstorming some ideas and try to find an instance in your recent life, whether an important event in your life or a smaller one, that displays your thought process and how you can handle challenging situations. The way each individual’s mind works is different, and in this essay, you want to show why your mind is distinctive and an asset to the college community.
2. First Draft – If necessary, you may want to write multiple first drafts about different topics. When you write these drafts, just let your ideas flow onto the page and it is fine if it comes out to three pages long. You can edit out the parts you don’t want and fix up the grammar and diction in later drafts.
3. Be Yourself and Be Specific – Don’t just write about what you think others will want to hear. Be specific about how the story you are telling relates to your personal qualities and how the angle you’re taking is reflected. The story is only as good as how you spin it in your favor.
4. Illustrate your Story and Be Vivid – I’m sure you’ve heard this countless times from your fifth grade teacher, but “show, not tell” is the name of the game here. You can claim that you are smart, courageous, determined and all that, but your readers will never be convinced unless you show them how you displayed those desirable characteristics in concrete examples. In your essay, write about how the particular instance you have chosen has impacted you and why it is compelling. Give details that show your story is likable and that you are personable.
5. Show that you are Goal-Oriented – Let your reader know that you strive for success and that you want to contribute something of value to your environment. But at the same time, you do not need to list your accomplishments or include any humble-brags. There is a separate section of the application to do just that!
6. Get a Second Opinion and Rewrite – Your essay is one of the few aspects of your application that show what your personality is actually like. You know exactly what you mean when you write down those words, but perhaps those words may not convey your message fully to a second reader. Sure the words make sense in your head, but a stranger who is reading your essay does not have the same background knowledge that you do. Having a teacher or a friend look over your essay may help you deliver your message clearer, provide other aspects of your personality to display, and give your essay a better direction to follow.
For more guidance with the College Personal Statements or Essays, contact our experts for more advice.
Stephenie, having been a tutor/instructor/mentor since 1996, discovered her passion and founded Lee Academia Educational Consulting, LLC. after she left the dental and medical field. She loves teaching/mentoring and counseling her students. Her passion lies in educating others and helping them pursue their educational path. Today, certified in College Counseling and with more than 10 years of experience, Stephenie and her team continues to blog about current updated educational news and events.
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