The essay is your megaphone — your view of the world and your ambitions. It needs to tell a story with passion, using personal, entertaining anecdotes that showcase your character, your interests, your values, your life experiences, your views of the world, your ambitions and even your sense of humor. You read the first few sentences and then decide. The same goes for college essays. A strong lede journalist parlance for "lead" will place your reader in the "accept" mindset from the beginning of the essay.
A weak lede will have your reader thinking "reject"—a mindset from which it's nearly impossible to recover. So application essays are a unique way for applicants to share, reflect, and connect their values and goals with colleges. Admissions officers want students to share their power, their leadership, their initiative, their grit, their kindness—all through relatively recent stories.
Use your essays to empower your chances of acceptance, merit money, and scholarships. Rebecca Joseph, professor at California State University and founder of All College Application Essays , develops tools for making the college essay process faster and easier. Get personal. To me, personal stuff is the information you usually keep to yourself, or your closest friends and family. So it can be challenging, even painful, to dig up and share. Try anyway. When you open up about your feelings —especially in response to a low point—you are more likely to connect with your reader s.
Because we've all been there. So don't overlook those moments or experiences that were awkward, uncomfortable or even embarrassing. Weirdly, including painful memories and what you learned from them! Chances are, you also shared a mini-story that was interesting, entertaining and memorable.
This college essay tip is by Janine Robinson, journalist, credentialed high school English teacher, and founder of Essay Hell , has spent the last decade coaching college-bound students on their college application essays. I believe everyone has a story worth telling. Sometimes the seemingly smallest moments lead us to the biggest breakthroughs. Keep it simple! No one is expecting you to solve the issue of world peace with your essay.
Remember, this essay is about YOU. What makes you different from the thousands of other applicants and their essays? Use vivid imagery. This college essay tip is by Myles Hunter, CEO of TutorMe , an online education platform that provides on-demand tutoring and online courses for thousands of students. Honor your inspiration. My parents would have much preferred that I write about sports or youth group, and I probably could have said something interesting about those, but I insisted on writing about a particular fish in the pet store I worked at—one that took much longer than the others to succumb when the whole tank system in the store became diseased.
It was a macabre little composition, but it was about exactly what was on my mind at the time I was writing it. I think it gave whoever read it a pretty good view of my 17 year-old self.
I'll never know if I got in because of that weird essay or in spite of it, but it remains a point of pride that I did it my way. This college essay tip is by Mike McClenathan, founder of PwnTestPrep , which has a funny name but serious resources for helping high school students excel on the standardized tests.
Revise often and early. Your admissions essay should go through several stages of revision. Ask your parents, teachers, high school counselors or friends for their eyes and edits. It should be people who know you best and want you to succeed. Take their constructive criticism in the spirit for which they intend—your benefit. Write about things you care about. The most obvious things make great topics. What do I mean? Colleges want to learn about who you are, what you value and how you will contribute to their community.
I had two students write about their vehicles—one wrote about the experience of purchasing their used truck and one wrote about how her car is an extension of who she is. We learned about their responsibility, creative thinking, teamwork and resilience in a fun and entertaining way. Don't tell them a story you think they want, tell them what YOU want.
Of course you want it to be a good read and stay on topic, but this is about showing admissions who you are. You don't want to get caught up in thinking too much about what they are expecting. This isn't the place to list your awards or discuss your grades or test scores. Answer the question being asked. Don't reuse an answer to a similar question from another application.
Have at least one other person edit your essay. A teacher or college counselor is your best resource. And before you send it off, check, check again, and then triple check to make sure your essay is free of spelling or grammar errors. The 4 years I spent in the Army cultivated a deep-seated passion for serving society. While in the Army, I had the great honor to serve with several men and women who, like me, fought to make a difference in the world.
During my tour of duty, I witnessed several shipmates suffer from various mental aliments. Driven by a commitment to serve and a desire to understand the foundations of psychological illness, I decided to return to school to study psychology. In order to pay for school and continue being active in the community, I enlisted in the Texas Army National Guard as a Medic. Due to the increased deployment schedule and demands placed on all branches of the military after September 11, my attendance in school has necessarily come second to my commitment to the military.
There are various semesters where, due to this demand, I attended school less than full time. Despite taking a long time and the difficulty in carving separate time for school with such occupational requirements, I remained persistent aiming towards attending school as my schedule would allow.
My military commitment ends this July and will no longer complicate my academic pursuits. In college, as I became more politically engaged, my interest began to gravitate more towards political science. The interest in serving and understanding people has never changed, yet I realized I could make a greater difference doing something for which I have a deeper passion, political science.
Pursuing dual degrees in both Psychology and Political Science, I was provided an opportunity to complete a thesis in Psychology with Dr. As an undergraduate, I was privileged to gain extensive research experience working in a research lab with Dr. During the three years I worked in her lab, I aided in designing a study, writing an Institutional Review Board IRB application, running participants through both pilot and regular studies, coding data, and analyzing said data, with these experiences culminating in my honors thesis.
Participating in such a large study from start to finish has validated my interest in academic research as a profession. This fall I will embark on writing an additional honors thesis in political science.
While the precise topic of my thesis is undecided, I am particularly interested in Mexico and its development towards a more democratic government. Minoring in Spanish, I have read various pieces of literature from Mexico and have come to respect Mexico and Latin American culture and society.
Proofread The last step is editing and proofreading your finished essay. You have worked so hard up until this point, and while you might be relieved, remember: your essay is only as good as your editing. A single grammatical error or typo could indicate carelessness—not a trait you want to convey to a college admission officer.
Give yourself some time. Let your essay sit for a while at least an hour or two before you proofread it. Approaching the essay with a fresh perspective gives your mind a chance to focus on the actual words, rather than seeing what you think you wrote.
Computers cannot detect the context in which you are using words, so be sure to review carefully. They might be fine in a text message, but not in your college essay.
Have another person or several! You know what you meant to say, but is it clear to someone else reading your work? Have these people review your application essay to make sure your message is on target and clear to any audience. Read your essay backwards. This may sound a bit silly, but when reading in sequential order, your brain has a tendency to piece together missing information, or fill in the blanks, for you. This forces you to read each word individually and increases your chances of finding a typo.
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During my tour of duty, I witnessed several shipmates suffer from various mental aliments. Was the bird dying? Admissions committees put the most weight on your high school grades and your test scores. This college essay tip is by Janine Robinson, journalist, credentialed high school English teacher, and founder of Essay Hell , has spent the last decade coaching college-bound students on their college application essays. There is something magical about reading out loud. A teacher or college counselor is your best resource.