Most seniors dread writing college admissions essays. I can’t blame them.
College essays are difficult for many students because they are unlike the writing taught in high school.
Personal statements are first-person narrative stories. I remember my high school writing teachers telling me never to use "I's" in my writing. College essays are full of “I’s” as students present their unique stories.
And while personal experiences and deeply held principles are revealed in a well-written manner it presents a challenge to any writer. Add in the pressure of college admission and many students experience writer’s block.
Increasingly, the application essay gives admissions officers insight into who students really are and are becoming the deciding factor. So it should really “sound” like the applicant, revealing personality, interests, quirks, personal style, and voice.
Here are my top essay tips for students:
• DON’T copy or emulate successful essays; they are good because they are unique.
• DO write on different topics if you have more than one essay.
• DO write it yourself.
• DON’T plagiarize!
• DON’T try to sound more sophisticated; just be yourself. Write about something important to you.
• DO write in a conversational—but professional—tone.
• DO answer the question and adhere to the word limit.
• DO proofread, proofread and proofread. A small spelling mistake can cost you.
• DO read your essay as if you were the admissions officer and ask what it tells about you as a person.
• DON'T wait until the last minute to start working on your essays- when you are rushed, you can't think as well.
• DON'T try to impress your reader with your vocabulary.
Keep in mind essays can rescue a borderline application if they present strong personal and intellectual characteristics. Essays can also sink an otherwise strong application if they reveal poor writing, carelessness, lack of interest, or poor character. Essays count; make them work for you not against you.
So, start writing those essays this summer!