Questions about writing College Essays

<p>Hello,</p>

<p>I am a rising senior. This summer, one of plans includes writing my college essay(s). I know that in order to get into top Universities you must have a stellar essay along with stellar other stuff. I have the Stats, now I need to have an amazing essay. So, I was wondering...</p>

<p>~How did you start writing your essay? Did you read "How to Write a College Essay" books at Barnes and Noble?</p>

<p>~How do you choose what to write about? I know that most colleges accept the Commom App. But if each college expects you to answer a diff. question is it possible to write one essay and use it to for several college apps? How can you really choose what to write about then?</p>

<p>~What can you actually write about? I know that colleges really want to get to know who you are apart from everything 'academia' related you have on your app.</p>

<p>~What should max/min be in terms of length? And it should sort of be 'story type' and 'show don't tell,' right?</p>

<p>Sorry, I know a lot of these questions are basic and stuff I should generally know. But, I'm the 1st one in my family going to college in America.</p>

<p>Thanks in Advance!!</p>

<p>no, i didnt
you can use the same essay, but it is better to peronalize and use diff versions.
EC's, life experiences, whatever differentiates you from the herd
they usually give a guideline on length, dont write a ten page paper though</p>

<p>good luck</p>

<p>I read a book called "On Writing Well" by William Zinsser in my junior year. I reread it before writing college essays. I also read a book called "50 essays that worked" to see varied styles.</p>

<p>The common app gives options for 5 different topics and a choice to write about whatever you want. You want to describe an instance/journey that reflects your personality and who you are. The minimum is 250 words, and the maximum is considered to be 500. You can go over, but as Thoreau said: "Writing is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify!" </p>

<p>Many colleges also have a supplementary form where they give an optional essay to write. It's generally a "why this college" type essay. You definitely want to do them if you feel you can show another dimension of yourself, but don't write an optional essay if you are going to repeatthe attributes described in your common app essay.</p>

<p>Search for this subject on CC so that you can see some other book suggestions and guides. At the end of the day, you want to write an essay that's unique, makes you stand out, and reflects your true personality.</p>

<p>To begin writing your college admissions essay, try and find an extremely unique topic that will stand out on the table; nothing is worse than a cliche, conventional essay about your sports win. Rather than purchasing a book on how to write college admissions essays, I would recommend purchasing a book with example admissions essays "that worked." For example, "50 Successful Harvard Essays" is an excellent choice.</p>

<p>In order to decide upon a topic, you must think back on your experiences in High School in both the academic setting and outside. You can, most definitely, reuse (or recycle, as some may refer to it) college admissions essays throughout your applications. I would write a few essays and pick your best to recycle.</p>

<p>The most amazing thing about the college admissions personal essay is that you can write about absolutely anything. Something inspirational that can come of the day you slipped on a banana, or the time you met the Dalai Lama, or the day when you went to Starbucks and had an epiphany.</p>

<p>The minimum recommended length is 250 words, but I would recommend something in the 500-700 range, and even a bit more if needed. Try and strive for something substantial and memorable rather than something short and ridiculous in the eyes of an admissions officer.</p>

<p>Start writing the essay by imagining you were telling a cool story about yourself to another person. It could be about some experience you've went through, about your interaction with some person or group. It could be a metephor for something (though its harder to make essays like this work). </p>

<p>Remember that for college the point of the essay is to first show the school that you can write somewhat coherently, and second that you have some interest. It doesn't have to be an academic interest, but it will definitely help your case to show schools that you care about things as it shows them that you can motivate yourself with something other than grades.</p>

<p>In regards to showing and not telling, this post lays out some examples pretty well (it is targeted towards graduate schools but many of the same ideas remain): The</a> Importance of Stories in Graduate Admissions Essays. </p>

<p>And though looking at samples can be good, ultimately the best thing you can do is to sit down and start writing and arrive ultimately arrive at something you care about. The actual topic doesn't actually matter too much, talk about some experience you had which you know really well. </p>

<p>I only really saw 3 essays other than mine, they were of people who went to harvard and yale. One was a state qualifying swimmer and wrote about a good natured swimming rival, another wrote about getting sick and getting hospitalized junior year, and a last one wrote about the proccess of writing a book manuscript in high school and seeing the ultimate reward of having someone read it and be immersed. I wrote about how I tried to build a paintball gun in 8th grade. </p>

<p>While all of these stories were about completely different things, the thing worth noting is that you can summerize the idea of each in a sentence. You want the person reading your essay to be able to do the same. </p>

<p>It doesn't even really matter that you answer one of the common app prompts, those are just there to help you get started. </p>

<p>Also, the essay should be 300-1000 words probably, but if it is 1000, that probably means that you can step away from it for a week and then cut it down by a few hundered. That said you should only really look at length when you are revising. When writing just focus on figuring out what story you want to tell and doing an awesome job of telling it.</p>

<p>An0maly had some pretty good suggestions as well. </p>

<p>When you are done with your essays you should have someone that knows the process look over your essays to make sure you did them right, particularly because you are the first in your family to go to college. If you have a teacher or someone you trust to give good advice, go to them. Otherwise, it may be wise to invest some money and get someone that knows how to look over essays to do it. There are plenty of great services out there (disclosure, I am affiliated with GuruFi.com, which offers this sort of essay editing service) and if you look at it from an economics standpoint, paying a couple hundered dollars to ensure going to the school you want to is a drop in the bucket compared to tuition.</p>

<p>Colleges generally expect you to write a general "personal statement" (aka story about yourself) and then add other supplemental essays as well. Some schools like UChicago ask very unique supplementary questions, but most of them can be classified as "tell us why you want to go to school X" essays. If you have a compelling reason for wanting to attend a particular school, then you should definitely give it, but otherwise, this essay essentially gives you a chance to tell the school that you care about the same things that the school cares about. The essay that I used when applying to schools can be found here: How</a> to Convince a College that You’re Interested..</p>

<p>1) No though I wrote on a Chicago essay prompt for my commonapp so I read an essay from a friend who applied to Chicago the year before.</p>

<p>2) The Commonapp essay goes out to all, as for the supplementals... You will not be able to use the same essay for multiple places, if for no other reason than to change the voice of the essay to more closely match the "character" of the schools. For example in my Caltech essay I used/modified the anecdotes to be more funny and was not afraid to come off as a tad immature whereas for my Brown essay I tried to make myself sound as mature as possible. What you will ned up doing though is re-using anecdotes.</p>

<p>3) It used the idea of "games" as a retrospective on my time in High School. If I can find it I might PM it to you.</p>

<p>4) For Commonapp? About 500 words, for supplementals each one will specify.</p>

<p>Thank You all so much! This is really good advice..I'm not sure what PM means...if you can explain that would be great, and thank you!!</p>

<p>^ it means private message</p>

<p>There is good advice here:</p>

<p>Essays</a>, Admission Information, Undergraduate Admission, U.Va.</p>

<p>Thank You to Everyone!!!</p>