For college-bound students, it’s that time of year: big decisions, lots of forms, letters of recommendation, and yes, college application essays. This particular essay varies widely in both form and function: questions can range from the mundane “Why should State University admit you?” to the Common Application‘s more ethereal “Topic of your Choice.” And while some colleges don’t even require an essay, the “do not admit” decision at one college recently came down to a single line in one unfortunate student’s essay!
It’s a safe bet you’ll have to write at least one essay, so you might as well make yours the best. Excellent advice is easy to find and experts everywhere agree: position your strengths, showcase your character, and set a “balanced tone.” The happy owl also advocates finding and leveraging your “value proposition” – that special something about you that catapults your application into the stratosphere. But before sitting down to this “all about you” task, get “beyond self” for a moment by considering the following as well:
- Put yourself in your reader’s shoes. Think of the human being whose job it is to read hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants’ essays each year. How many students simply rattle off their accomplishments or describe all the ways that an education from State University will prepare them for meaningful work and a wildly successful life? Too many! Have mercy on your reader – say something new and say it well. Make it a joy to read.
- Put yourself within those hallowed halls. Every college is its own community and you’re asking to join this one. Imagine yourself a member: walking the halls with fellow students, engaging in discussions, forming life-long friendships. Every member of this community brings something special to the mix and gives State University its character. How will you fit in? What impact will you make?
- Put yourself beyond the question. Strange but true: some students get so wrapped up in telling their stories that they fail to answer the question! But more often, students take the word “describe” too literally. Never simply describe an experience, person, or other influence, as the essay question asks. Analyze or evaluate the influence instead. Make the most of this opportunity to demonstrate your abilities to think and write critically.
Remember, essay-writing is iterative. To “get to yes,” take the time to go beyond, plan, write, and revise! Need help? Contact Scholar’s Secret today!