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Editing Your College Essays


Replies to: Editing Your College Essays

  • gianievvegianievve Registered User Posts: 1,821 Senior Member
    Thank you for the contributions.
  • neha1neha1 Registered User Posts: 1,853 Senior Member
    darn!! why did i doscover this site juz last week?? :(
    great advice on essays!! cud have certainly used it.......
    valuable for our juniors...
  • WabashWabash Registered User Posts: 994 Member
    i would go 2x spaced easier to read.
  • JIMMY@KILLARNEY[email protected] Registered User Posts: 1,244 Senior Member
    I know this not the real college admission essay.

    Question: what type of tone or mood should I use in my essay? (topic is about describing your leadership, interest in politics, or community sevice experience)
  • JIMMY@KILLARNEY[email protected] Registered User Posts: 1,244 Senior Member
    By the way, I am from Vancouver, BC.
    My question is writing an admissions essay for a summer program at Princeton.
  • just_forget_mejust_forget_me Registered User Posts: 2,244 Senior Member
    It's all about the subjunctive mood. :-P
  • JIMMY@KILLARNEY[email protected] Registered User Posts: 1,244 Senior Member
    can you explain it with more detail?
  • just_forget_mejust_forget_me Registered User Posts: 2,244 Senior Member
    I was kidding about the subjunctive mood. It was a grammar joke, don't worry if you didn't get it.

    Anyway, my best advice is to be you. If you're a serious kind of person, be serious. If you're funny, throw in some jokes. Let your personality come through as you address the prompt.
  • Little MotherLittle Mother Registered User Posts: 1,890 Senior Member
    If possible, you might want to address why you/your interests would benefit from attending that particular program and perhaps how you could contribute to it.
  • marlgirlmarlgirl Registered User Posts: 1,096 Senior Member
    Some more essay writing advice...

    1) Find out what makes you unique, defining characteristics, maybe 3 to 4 things you really, really value. For me, two things that I really love are learning and my friends... thus my extended essay ended up being a typical conversation with my friends with some commentary.

    2) Don't worry too much about being terribly creative. I really believe that virtually any topic can work well. Clearly anything involving you getting in trouble with the law, an intimate encounter with your boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. is probably not a good idea. Even really cliche topics can work. You just have to make them personal and use lots of detail and really show how it impacted your life. Maybe building houses in Mexico or your grandparent's funeral really did have a profound effect on you. So write about it. And MAKE IT PERSONAL. It doesn't have to gush with emotion, just make it is really specific to you. If you know anyone else who could have written the essay, toss it out.

    3) Don't try to impress the adcoms with your essay. Don't use big words just to use them. Use, more or less, your style that you'd use while speaking. If you try to impress them it shows, and it makes it seem more fake. Fake = not "you," thus it's bad.

    4) After you've done some brainstorming, just start writing. Write a lot. Try different intros and different directions. If you get stuck and don't know what to write next, feel free to just try again. In each draft you might like only a couple of sentences. That's fine. The more you write the more phrases and sentences you'll find that you like and the more you'll discover about yourself. You might have four or five essays you think are your final drafts and then realize that they just aren't quite right.

    5) Edit your essays down. A lot. Make them more concise and to the point. At first I was VERY resistant to this. I'm often quite wordy, so being concise was quite difficult for me. However, it made my essays MUCH better! I think I cut down one short answer from about 400 to 250 words and it was a million times better because it had a clear purpose and direction. Figure out what the essay is about, what you want to communicate through the essay (and it might be several things). Cut out anything that doesn't add to it's purpose.

    6) Have a few close friends and/or teachers who know you well read through the essays. See if they think they are "you." I had my best friend read through one of my essays I thought was my final personal statement and she was like "this isn't quite right... I really don't like it and think you should start over." We talked about it for a while and I realized that she was right. My final personal statement was much more "me." Teachers can really help you be more concise. Find a teacher who hates wordiness and ask him/her for help in finding parts that don't need to be there.
  • just_forget_mejust_forget_me Registered User Posts: 2,244 Senior Member
    Some examples of brilliant + highly personal essays can be here: http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~gcarroll/archives/misc/essays.htm The writer, Gabriel Carroll, is 2-year IMO gold medalist and in his fourth year at Harvard.
  • deathcabdeathcab Registered User Posts: 21 New Member
    my essay was quite longer than the limit set forth on the common application (i think the limit was 1000 words) and i still got into all the colleges to which i applied (except wesleyan).

    the moral of the story: no moral really....other than that you can get away with an essay thats a little too long perhaps
  • ohio_momohio_mom Registered User Posts: 4,045 Senior Member
    If the essay keeps the attention of the reader, I agree. The danger with a longer essay is that the reader gives up on it and stops really paying attention before the end.
  • ThomasH32ThomasH32 Registered User Posts: 731 Member
    College essays are always assumed it will be double-spaced. That's normal MLA formats and the like.
  • semamomsemamom Registered User Posts: 72 Junior Member
    Hi ohio_mom --

    Excellent suggestions. Application essays can seem an overwhelming challenge until you break down the process into bite-sized chunks like this.

    I do have a related question (in response to comments further down the thread):

    Colleges that request the Common Application (usually in addition to a college-specific supplement) would be receiving a student's initial essay ("Personal Statement") as part of that document. If you send it online, you will be subject to the length restriction, it seems.

    I get the impression that more and more colleges prefer that you submit online (at least the Common Application). Some say so in no uncertain terms, and others waive the application fee if you submit online. So how are people managing to send in principal essays that are longer?

    And a related question regarding the college-specific supplements: Many of them including additional essay questions; some can be submitted online, and some have to be mailed. If a supplement is going to be mailed, does the student just give it to the guidance counselor to be sent in with the transcript and teacher recs? (In our school, those documents must come directly from the school; the student does not mail them).

    I guess I'm a little confused about what seems to be a very disconnected application process, with elements of the student's file coming in via different channels.

    Any thoughts/insight would be appreciated.

This discussion has been closed.