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Writing an effective college application essay

Don't just go with the first idea that comes to mind when you read it.

How to write an effective college application essay in 2019 (secrets)

Consider writing down a list of ideas that come to you after you read the question or prompt. Once you've written your list, look it over and see which topics or ideas jump out at you as something you could write about. Some colleges or programs will give you several questions or prompts to choose from, or even give you the option of responding to more than one prompt.

Choose the question s that you think you can answer the most effectively. Avoid reusing essays for other applications. If you're applying to colleges, you're probably writing a lot of essays. Resist the temptation to just rework an essay from another application to fit the new prompt. It will be obvious to the admissions officer reading your essay if you're answering a different question. Just make sure that your essay effectively addresses all aspects of the prompt.

Think about what makes you different. When you're brainstorming ideas for your essay, think about the things that have made you stand out: what are your strengths? Your best personality traits? What types of compliments do you receive the most from your friends and teachers? These are good things to build an essay on. Emphasize this in your essay by writing about a time that those qualities helped you in your day-to-day life.

Don't just list extracurriculars. When you're thinking about possible themes for your essay, don't just list all of the extracurricular activities you took part in during high school.

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A lot of other applicants will have participated in the same groups and organizations, and it's hard to set yourself apart using the same exact things other people use. Just don't make them the focus on your essay. Tell them something new.

Your essay also shouldn't just repeat things that you've already listed elsewhere on your application. Tell the admissions officer something they can't learn about you from the other paperwork you've filled out. It's okay to expand on points you only mentioned in passing in other parts of the application, but make sure you are adding new information and presenting it in an engaging, creative way.


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You could also explain how you overcame a particular fear. Tell a story. If you can tell a story in response to the prompt or question, do so.

Telling Your Story to Colleges

Telling a story will be much more engaging or interesting than just listing a bunch of reasons why you want to go to college. Admissions officers are often looking for students who can engage their audience, and the more interesting your essay is, the more an admissions officer will want to read it. A personal story can also help the reader connect with you on a personal level and learn something about who you are as a person.

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Focus on one topic. Once you've brainstormed a list of ideas, choose one as the theme of your essay. Focusing on one theme helps keep your essay organized and to the point. Like any essay, the college admissions essay should have a clear thesis that summarizes your main ideas and presents your theme in an engaging way.

Recount an incident in your life when this happened to you, and reflect on how the experience changed you. Start with a few lines that introduce the topic of your essay in a compelling and personal way. Have a great opener. The person reading your essay will be reading stacks of them, so getting their attention right away is a great way to get the reader's interest immediately. You could start with a quote, or a piece of advice you once received, or even a provocative way of setting up the theme of your essay.

Tips for Writing a Winning College Application Essay

For example, maybe your essay is on how you're pursuing biology because you've always been interested in how things grow and survive in adverse conditions. I love it. Write in your own voice. Don't try to copy someone else's tone in your writing. You don't have to sound like anyone else, you just have to sound like you.

Don't use phrases that you've heard repeated over and over, unless you can put your own, creative spin on them. Write a first draft. Once you've chosen the topic for you essay, write a first draft. Don't worry about making it perfect, just write down everything you can think of that relates to your topic. Show, don't tell.

When you're writing your essay, provide examples to support the things that you're saying about yourself. Anyone can say they're a good leader or they love to learn, but what can set you apart is demonstrating how those things are true in your life. Don't embellish. It's tempting to embellish or overstate what you've done when you're trying to make yourself stand apart from others. You should not do this in your essay under any circumstances. Don't say you've done something or been somewhere you haven't.

Don't overdo the humor. You might be tempted to try to make the admissions officer who is reading your essay laugh. Humor is a great way to make friends or break the ice with someone new, but you should try not to rely on it in your admissions essay. You have no way of knowing what the admissions officer's sense of humor is like, and you don't want to run the risk of a joke falling flat or, even worse, offending someone.

Use a positive tone. College can be difficult, and one thing that admissions officers might be looking for is evidence that you've overcome obstacles and been able to work through hard situations. Using a positive tone in your essay helps emphasize that you've been able to get through and learn from difficult situations.

For example, if you're writing about a time when you helped a friend through the loss of a parent, part of your essay will obviously be sad. But you can also strike a positive tone by saying something like "It was one of the hardest things I've ever done, and it changed my friend in a lot of ways.

But I also learned that you can never take a single day for granted and what it means to really be someone's friend. Appeal to your readers' emotions.


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Be honest and open about what getting into college means to you, personally. This will help the admissions officers connect with you and your story on a personal level, and will make your essay stand out. Don't exaggerate; just be sincere and earnest. I'm always happiest when I'm working on a technical problem or surrounded by people who share my passion. When I toured the Big State U. Tie it all together at the end. A powerful closing statement is just as important as a good opener. College, careers, and more College admissions Applying to college Admissions essays.

Writing a strong college admissions essay. Avoiding common admissions essay mistakes. Brainstorming tips for your college essay. How formal should the tone of your college essay be? Taking your college essay to the next level. Sample essay 1 with admissions feedback. Sample essay 2 with admissions feedback.