It’s not a great idea to just sit down and start writing your college application essays. These essays are unlike any other writing assignment you’ve tackled before. You’ve got to get into the right mindset… the college essay mindset. You’re not writing a persuasive essay or a short story – you’re writing a personal narrative. More than that – you’re writing a personal narrative specifically designed to both demonstrate your true personality and present you in the best light possible.
This is no easy task, but we’re here to help.
Consider the Prompts Carefully
College essay prompts are really broad, but they still offer parameters for your essay. Sometimes students pick a topic first and then try to find a way to make it fit the prompt – this usually results in a less than impressive essay. It’s much better to let the prompt, well, prompt the essay.
Picking the right topic is half the battle. Too many students try to think of some truly dramatic, life-altering event, but that’s virtually impossible for the vast majority of students; instead, many of these students wind up with essays the treat relatively common events with excessive drama. Instead, focus on finding a topic that’s meaningful to you. Your meaningful moment doesn’t have to be huge; sometimes the best topics are pretty mundane. Check out some of our favorite essays for some great examples.
Be Honest – But Not Too Honest
Do. Not. Lie.
But sometimes honesty isn’t the best policy. The college essay is not the ideal confessional. Some students admit to things that shouldn’t be highlighted in the college essay. For example, students sometimes use the essay as a place to explain a bad grade or to highlight overcoming a particular immaturity, but this merely highlights a negative rather than accentuating a positive.
Writing is Rewriting
Plan on rewriting your essay several times. You’ll need to go back and review and rewrite your essay again and again in order to perfect your writing. Get input from trusted readers – teachers, tutors, and counselors. Just when you think you’ve written the best essay possible, put it away for a couple of days – and then read it again to see if it’s really as good as it could be.