Writing a College Essay

One of the main things when applying to college is the admission essay. The admission essay, or essays if you have to submit more than one, is your chance to impress college admission officers with your dazzling personality. They have your resumé, test scores, etc., so the admission essay is your opportunity to show the person behind the impressive application packet.

“It’s crazy to write a college essay where you have to sound mature yet let your personality shine through,” says Britney Espada, a high school senior in New York City.

There are many ways to show your personality through the essay. First, make sure to believe in yourself. Without having confidence, it will show through your writing and to the college admissions officer. Admission prompts vary between universities, but common questions include why you want to attend, describe a leadership experience, and/or to explain how you overcame an obstacle.  If this is not the case, then students have the liberty of choosing their own subject.

The following steps is to help high school seniors who need a ‘magical godparent’ for guidance:

1. Read the question or prompt. 
Make sure you understand what the college wants from you. This means that you must know how to answer the prompt well so that you avoid beating around the bush and confusing the admissions personnel. You will want to make it easy for them to know your answer right away. A helpful tip is to tailor the response to the university. For example, having a generic answer for why you want to attend college or how you overcame the biggest obstacle in your life is a good start. A stronger response is one that shows how you overcame the obstacle and how this experience has taught you valuable lessons that you will apply as a student at the university you’re applying to.

2. Know your strengths and weaknesses.
It is important to know your greatest traits as this will be your selling point in your essay. Write them down on a piece of paper or type it up. If you are having trouble, think about instances where you have excelled or write about activities you are passionate about like your love of helping the community, a sport, or extracurricular activity.

3. Start writing!
When you’re ready to start drafting your college essay, don’t pay attention to correct tenses or grammar yet. Just write some sentences to get the flow going. If you feel that one topic is easier to write than the other, then feel free to do so. Even the ordinary everyday activities can be interesting to read about.

4. Pay attention to your introduction.
Remember to make it lively. You could start writing right in the action to catch the attention of the admissions officer. They skim through the large volume of college essays they receive, so if you have a strong introduction then it’ll make your essay more memorable. A good introduction could start with something like “Baked Alaska. It is delicious to eat but darn right hard to bake, but it has taught me how to surpass obstacles.”

5. Organization is key!
Then, when you have more content in your draft, arrange which paragraph should go where. You can start right in the action or with an appropriate introduction where you’d rather introduce yourself or the question.

6. Don’t be afraid of sounding casual.
It’s better to sound authentic than presumed. This of course does not mean that you can use offensive words for dramatic effect or any slang words. The point is to avoid using flowery language such as imbroglio.

7. Now edit your grammar.
(Steps 5 and 6 can be combined).

8. Take a break after working on your first draft.
This could be a couple of minutes or days. The point of this is to see your essay with fresh eyes.

9. Review one more time.
Now, go back and edit your essay again. As you’re reading ask yourself : did I answer the question? At this point show your writing to a friend, teacher, parent, or counselor, for feedback. Make revisions if needed.

11. Submit!
At last you are done! Pat yourself on the shoulder, because you are ready to submit your college essay with confidence.

Hopefully this guide will be helpful for young folks applying to college. Buena suerte!

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