This week we will be considering what makes a successful college application essay for the United States. What follows are some easy steps that should assist candidates with the writing process.
1) Recognize that all college essays are different, so make sure you are answering the specific statement you have been posed. It is fine to modify other work you have done, but always ensure that the topic is appropriate.
2) Proofread, proofread, proofread. Then get others to proofread your work too.
Mistakes look unprofessional, sloppy and might affect the outcome of your application. It would be horrible to be denied your place at an Ivy League or Top 10 college simply because you didn't check your work.
3) Be original yet remain yourself, and never make up information, especially information that can be checked. Even if the essay question seems dull, attempt an interesting opening line as this is absolutely vital to hook your audience.
Also, as the admissions panel wants to learn about you and your experiences, make sure you write about something meaningful and describe your emotional response.
4) Everyone has done something meaningful. Often college essays ask you to describe a significant experience in your life.
Not everyone has traveled the world, built a school in Cambodia or spent hours teaching schoolchildren how to read, especially not at the age of 17! If you can find an original perspective on a seemingly mundane experience, you will be more successful than a candidate who has attempted to let the experience "speak for itself."
5) College application essays for the United States are not the same as those for other countries, such as Canada or Australia, and they are certainly not the same as personal statements on the UCAS form in the UK. You must produce original and specific work, and beware of the dangers of self-plagiarizing.
6) Try not to rely on the thesaurus. Often students feel that big words will impress admissions committees. This is not necessarily so, particularly if it renders your prose abstruse or, even worse, if you misuse the word you were attempting to impress with. Keep your prose clear and simple as you will derive no benefit from an impenetrable essay.
7) Adhere strictly to the word or character limit. On some electronic application forms anything over the word limit will simply be missed off the form, leaving your essay nonsensical. You don't want to risk your essay arriving via an electronic application but minus the conclusion just because you didn't check the word limit!
8) Take a break from writing, especially before you begin to edit what you have written. You might think your work is terrible, but some space should give you some perspective.
New week we will be considering the application as a whole, and why not having perfect grades is not always a drawback.
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