If you haven’t started your college admission essays, now’s the time to get moving! Regular college admission deadlines will be here before you know it, and you don’t want to find yourself trying to crank out an admission essay a day or two before it is due. For some, the mere thought of what to write may have them dragging their feet. For others, it may be more of a mechanical issue. Whatever the reason, we are here to offer you some suggestions on how to get your creative juices flowing.
First, you have to decide what to write. Not all college admission essay questions are the same, but in general, they are meant to probe you for a deeper understanding of who you are and what you can bring to the college campus. When trying to decide between essay topics, consider how writing about each topic could possibly reveal your personality, goals and ambitions.
Next, just write. Yes, you heard me correctly – just write! Forget about formatting and the rules of writing an essay. Just let the ideas pour out freely onto the paper. No need for an outline or any formatting at this point in the process; this is simply an exercise to help you brainstorm and determine what matters to YOU.
After reviewing your free writing exercise, decide which elements stand out to you. Are there certain ideas or statements you made that are powerful or passionate? Use these to draft an outline of your essay. Be sure to support your position with real-life examples and resist the urge to simply list your achievements. Instead, show how an event or person may have made an impact on you.
For example, look at these two passages and decide which is more persuasive/powerful:
I contributed 100 hours of volunteer service with Susan G. Komen for the Cure and earned a Volunteer of the Year award for my time. I helped many people and spread awareness in my community through several educational events.
As I headed to the stage to receive my award for volunteer service, I looked out at the crowd and saw the many faces of survivors who I had come to know through my work at Susan G. Komen for the Cure. I realized the plaque I was about to receive was not as meaningful as the tears I had shared with the women battling cancer or the hugs offered to children who recently lost mothers to the disease. These women have taught me that life is short and that each day is a blessing. I began my volunteer work thinking I was giving my time to help others, but it turns out I was actually receiving so much more instead.
Your essay should give the college admissions staff of readers insights into who you are and highlight things not found in your transcripts or on other parts of your application. This is your opportunity to draw people into your world and let them see why they need you at their school. Simply giving a laundry list of achievements or general statements about a topic will not help YOU stand out from the crowd.
Once you have your essay topic and outline complete, it will be time to write your first rough draft. Be sure you adequately address the essay topic question and have fully supported your position. Be sure to have a couple of other people (teachers, counselors, parents, older siblings) read your work and offer feedback. They can help spot mistakes and offer suggestions for any areas that may not flow or seem weak. Once you have the feedback, polish up your essay for a final review. Again, you’ll want to enlist a few sets of eyes to ensure there are no grammatical errors or other formatting issues (be sure to check the word count guidelines, too). The entire process may take a couple of weeks, but in the end, you’ll have an essay that really showcases your inner thoughts, character and strengths; hopefully this will get you one step closer to that acceptance letter!
Please Note: The WiseChoice website will be discontinued later this month. Before the site becomes unavailable, we
encourage you to download & save any stored documents you may want to keep from your account. Email us if you have questions.