How to Write THE College Admissions Essay - General Tips

<p>Hi CC,</p>

<p>I've been told I can't post direct external links, so instead I'm posting an article I wrote on eHow called "How to Write THE College Admissions Essay" (to find it, just Google that title in quotes - it's easier on the eyes.) Here we go:</p>

<p>Do you want to know how to get that perfect college essay? Are you stumbling about in the dark? Read this guide from someone who was accepted into Harvard, Yale, and Princeton (not to be pretentious, but just to convey my credentials). I really felt that the strength of my essay was what carried me from the faceless pile of applications into the admitted stack. Remember this article serves more as an introduction, but it's also a good refresher for those already steeped in their essays.</p>

<p>Step 1. First things first. Before I can begin talking about the essay, you have to realize its place in the college admissions process. Most competitive schools will expect you to meet a certain threshold (not exactly a cutoff) for GPA and standardized test scores. The lower your stats are, the better your essay will have to be to balance those stats. Realize, however, that there are certain stats that will not get you into that competitive school, so be somewhat realistic.</p>

<p>Step 2. The essay serves as your voice. You’ve probably heard that a lot, but what does that really mean? BE YOURSELF. If you’re killing yourself over writing an extremely creative piece that doesn’t truly fit who you are (follow my underwear on a 17-year journey!), then chances are that someone else has done the same and your attempt will appear trite and contrived. My BEST advice to anyone seeking a really solid and outstanding essay is very simple: show the admissions committee personality traits which are admirable and which sell yourself and your qualities to the committee. Show your best self. Advocate your best traits.</p>

<p>Step 3. While that may seem obvious, applicants often forget to advocate their best qualities, preferring instead to shock or jolt the admissions staff. You have to remember that many creative attempts will feel very contrived to the admissions staff, which has read countless applications through the years. The most unique thing you can do is TIE THE ESSAY TO YOUR OWN LIFE EXPERIENCES. Again, this seems obvious, but many applicants don’t truly do it. I hope you have all led a life different from the kid next door. Revel in your difference, and use it to highlight the best of you. Make a compelling case for candidacy!</p>

<p>Step 4. Now, as you write, don’t overload your essay with adjectives and adverbs. You want to speak directly and plainly to the admissions staff, because only then will you appear both honest and confident. You CAN use a unifying device – for example, you can say competitive eating is analogous to all the things in your life – but don’t go overboard with it, and remember always to speak frankly and simply. Clean, honest writing is the most powerful. Sometimes, substance is more important than style.</p>

<p>Step 5. Keep writing! This is the best way to get your creative juices flowing. Write when you have free time – on the train – in a waiting room – wherever. Write down the most important things to you in school, home, and life. Only when you reflect on these things can you write a truly candid essay. And while this essay is for college, it is also a way for you to examine your life with a clearer lens.</p>

<p>Step 6. To summarize, in your essay, you must essentially emphasize your strengths to make a compelling case for candidacy, create an honest and clear story about you that’s supported by what you’ve given them in your application, address any concerns the admissions committee might have about you, and not create any new concerns. Though you may have heard much of this, these are the essentials which you must always keep in mind.</p>

<p>Tips and Warnings</p>

<p>While you should be yourself, you should always remember that you should be LIKEABLE. The best way to gauge this is to show someone else your essay and ask directed questions.</p>

<p>Don't get defensive if someone criticizes your essay - they probably have a valid concern.</p>

<p>Don't get too attached to your essay as if it's your baby - you have to be able to let it go and change things. Flexibility is a good thing.</p>

<p>With that said, understand that there is a boundary and you shouldn't let everyone tell you what to do. There's a certain level of autonomy you should have.</p>

<p>Never plagiarize an essay! It will be trite, unethical, and have bad repercussions if discovered.</p>

<p>Feel free to ask any questions. I'm going to be busy so hopefully knowledgeable CC members will be able to answer your questions.</p>

<p>I've written another article on SAT Critical Reasoning at this thread:
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<p>Dear Noitaraperp,</p>

<p>Thank you so much for posting the thread on SAT Reading! I just tried your methods, and they helped me improve my reading score by 100!</p>

<p>I am a rising senior, and I am planning to retake my SAT I test in October. I am very determined to raise my SAT I score this time, so any piece of valuable advice is as precious as gold to me. </p>

<p>I truly value your SAT advices. They do make a significant difference to seniors like me. If you don't mind, could you please share any methods you used for studying SATI math and writing? Your help would mean so much to me.</p>

<p>Once again, THANK YOU SO MUCH for dedicating your precious time to helping those of us in need.
And, it would REALLY HELP if you could share with me your SAT I studying skills.
THANK YOU!!!!! :)</p>


<p>Working on my essay right now, and bumping this because it deserves it. I think the essay is the most underrated part of the admissions process; it's the only part that truly separates two people from similar backgrounds.</p>