How to Write an Effective College Admissions Essay
Students spend half of the year inside the classroom. All of that time adds up: by the the time you get to the end of high school, you’ve spent six full years learning and collecting experiences that will help you write an effective college admissions essay. But for many students, the process of writing can be met with anxiety and hesitation.
As students make the transition into university, the focus on effective writing becomes increasingly apparent. More and more assignments revolve around written reports at the college level–which is why a sample of your skills to determine your ability to communicate effectively through writing is necessary.
These tips will help you write a college admissions essay effectively. If you apply each of these tips, you’ll be able to address your audience with conviction and nail your essay with ease.
Relate Your Essay
The first thing you should do is relate your admissions essay to the school you’re applying to. This is an important tip that many students miss. Remember that you’re building a relationship with that university, and this is their first opportunity to interact with you on a personal level. Think in terms of the types of values the school represents and how your presence can be an asset to those. You may also want to consider how your contributions would add value to a particular field of study and write in terms of that. Understand that you are writing to influence a decision, not just express information.
Use the Correct Writing Style
It’s important to write in the proper writing style for your college admissions essay. Most essays are persuasive in nature and require you to draw upon life experiences to convince the reader that their school is the right choice for you. These essays may require you to describe in detail the experiences you’ve gone through, what they entailed, and the conclusions you’ve drawn from those. You may also have to set up the story with a clear plot, conflict, setting, and body of characters. Not only does this depth of writing create an entertaining essay, but it also shows you can write in a creative manner.
Apply Proper Tone
Tone is essential to writing. Tone is the emotional sentiment your writing conveys to an audience. This sentiment establishes the voice of your work with the use of mechanical elements like syntax, word choice, point of view, the presence of CAPITALIZATION, and dialogue, among others. The essay you write should communicate your voice in an authentic, natural style so the audience can properly understand your intent. Your admissions essay should also convey tone based on the instructions of the writing prompt. Using a serious tone for a prompt meant to be humorous will not be received well, nor would a humorous tone for a prompt meant to be serious.
Your essay should be clear and concise. Using excessive words increases the possibility of the audience misinterpreting your intentions. It also distracts from the ideas you present in your story. If you can eliminate a word from a sentence without altering its meaning, do it. Being concise doesn’t mean you are limited from developing your ideas, it means articulating them clearly, on topic, and to the point. Many college admissions essays have writing prompts that are structured with a limit of words students can write, so it’s essential that you use that entire space wisely. You can edit the story as many times as possible until you get the writing as clear as you’d like.
Write First, then Expand
Another helpful tip is to write first and then expand on ideas later. Utilizing an unstructured method without an outline allows your writing to sound as natural as possible. Having all of your thoughts on paper in a spontaneous manner also helps you come up with new ideas to write about. You can think about conversations, thoughts, or interactions you might have seen on social media and how they’ve impacted you. Once you have a steady list of thoughts, come back and read what you’ve wrote to unleash new ideas not previously thought about. Then you can expand and edit this stream of free-flowing thoughts and ideas to create a well-written, compelling story.
Write in Detail
It’s important to be specific as you expand upon the ideas in your college admissions essay. Writing in detail means you elaborate on all of the elements that allow you to draw the conclusions you’ve made in your writing. In other words, detail gives you evidence to substantiate your points. Describing experiences in a vivid manner also adds flavor and interest to your writing, making it more gripping and engaging for readers. This active voice of your thoughts and feelings helps to paint a clearer picture to your audience. In addition to writing in detail, word choice gives personality to your writing. Having a thesaurus on hand helps to vary your vocabulary and make your essay even more interesting.
Your essay is more effective if you tell your story in a unique manner. Your story should accurately reflect who you are, your personality, and the unique aspects that differentiate you from other students. In addition, you should want the reader to be able to have a distinct sense of who you are and what you represent after they finish reading the story. This allows your reader to connect with you and make them personally involved with your story. Remember that admissions essay readers have to read thousands of essays, so they will appreciate your ability to express yourself in a distinct manner. Give them something they aren’t expecting and haven’t read before.
Present Yourself in a Good Light, but be Careful
Your college admissions essay is the place to present yourself in a flattering manner. Don’t forget that this essay will be used to help determine whether or not you would be a good choice for that school. That’s why you have to think critically about the situations in your life and appeal to the types of things an admissions representative would like to see. Be sure to emphasize your good qualities and why these would be an asset at an institution of higher learning. At the same time, you want to avoid bragging about your accomplishments or, worse yet, lying entirely. It’s possible to have a humble and appreciative confidence without being arrogant.
It’s Okay to Talk About Tough Experiences
Tough situations build character. Talking about these experiences in your story and how they made you into the person you are today is actually encouraged in your admissions essay. Many students find it uncomfortable to talk about tough experiences, but it can actually be helpful as they allow you to vent and come to terms with them. Remember, the reader is trying to understand you as a person, and you are a product of your experiences, both good and bad. You are not expected to have a perfect life free from stress.
Hold the Reader’s Interest
Finally, it’s crucial that you hold the attention of your reader all throughout the story: at the very beginning, the middle, and the end. Keeping your reader’s attention will make them want to read your admissions essay over and over again and enjoy it the same as if they read it for the first time. On the other hand, if the reader cannot engage with your story, they may stop reading before they even finish. For this reason, it’s particularly important that you start your essay on a strong note.
Nailing the college admissions essay doesn’t have to be a difficult experience. But by taking the time to apply these ten tips, you can approach your essay with enthusiasm and deliver the best work possible.