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Road to College: College Essay

Applying to colleges? Make sure your college essay has these elements…

What you write and how it is written is based on who the audience is and what the objective of the writing sample is. A DVD instruction manual is written in a different style than a romance novel, which is nothing like an economics textbook. The guy setting up his DVD just wants to know how to complete each step as quickly as possible. The romance reader is looking to escape into a fantasy world.

You’ll write the college essay for just one audience: the college admissions committee member and the purpose of your essay is to build a compelling reason as to why you should be chosen over hundreds of other candidates.

For the most part, an essay will not make up for the test scores, grades and subjects that you may not have but with the right prerequisites in place, a well written college essay can make the difference between getting accepted or rejected.

Depending upon the number and type of colleges you are applying to, plan on writing at least 2-3 different essays. Common application for 2011-12 admission cycles will be out August 1; along with the essay prompts. It is a good place to start from.

When working on your college essays there are few key aspects to consider:

  • Good writing takes time and mulling over. Don’t expect to have it done overnight. Writer’s block is a real phenomenon. Plan on spending few days on just one essay/topic.
  • Start with ideas, not sentences. Brainstorm and throw everything that comes to mind. There will be enough opportunities to clean up stuff that does not belong in the essay.
  • Essay is not a resume; don’t pack it with everything you have ever done or achieved. Let your resume be your brag sheet of all your activities and achievements.
  • Essay is more about an event, activity, experience, relationship that had profound impact on you. It can be self-deprecating, humorous, emotional but never bombastic.
  • Research the college you are applying to and this means looking beyond the school website. Look for clubs/organizations/programs that the school offers. It will provide you with the kind of insight that will truly enrich your essay and reinforce your intent in the mind of the admissions officer.
  • Essay is the common link that ties all the different elements of your application together—transcript, letter of recommendation, test scores, resume. Make sure your essay makes that connection. College admission officer is looking out for that connection.
  • Stay away from sentences like “I want to be a doctor because I want to serve humanity…”, too cliché. Your opening sentences have to be attention grabbing, evocative and set the tone for the rest of the essay.

If an essay is too good to be true, it probably is. How does college admissions officer know this? Remember they have access to your writing samples from SAT or ACT essayHence it is not only important to have a well written essay but also SAT/ACT writing essay sample that backs it up.

If you need help with your college essay, give us a call at 412-833-6060.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Kathy Gillen July 25, 2011 at 07:09 PM
Thanks! I just forwarded this to my daughter who is anxiously awaiting the common app.
Manjri Gupta - Chyten Educational Services July 26, 2011 at 01:26 PM
Release of the common application gets the admission cycle in to full swing. Good luck to your daughter!

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