College application essays. I know it sounds like a very daunting task. When I was in your shoes, I remember having no idea what to write about at first. I was scrambling through my memory banks trying to think of something interesting or funny that happened to me, but nothing at all came to mind. I felt so boring. After talking with my guidance counselors and venting my frustration, they pointed out something unique about me that I had never even given much thought: I have six middle names. I then used that fact to frame my college essay with each name being the focus of a paragraph and using that name’s meaning to describe myself. Don’t be worried! Your own, unique story is enough to get you into college. But what characteristics does an effective college application essay have? The ideal college essay is
- Personal: It must be about you. Up until this point, there have been many moments, interactions, or events that have shaped who you are, and this is the time to bring those things to life. You do not have to try to be anyone else in this essay; your unique story is enough.
- Specific & Focused: With this essay, you may be given a prompt that you should write about. Make sure you stick to this prompt and that your essay answers that question! In the essay, make sure you are organizing your ideas in ways that make sense and not jumping from one idea to the other. It should be concise and also filled with specific examples that get your point across.
- Interesting: Please don’t write about the time you were watching tv and couldn’t find the remote. Write about something that you would want to read if you were in college admissions. Something that will make you stand out. This is really your opportunity to show them your personality and who you are so use this wisely!
- Reflective: This is one of the most important pieces. What makes the story or experience that you write about meaningful is you expounding on how it impacted you. How did this change you? Do you have a new perspective after going through this? Being able to reflect and draw meaning from experience is a vital skill, and one that shows maturity. Admissions want to see this.
- Grammatically Correct: Proofread, proofread, proofread. Make sure you are using the correct punctuation, verb tense, subject-verb agreement, etc. Your English teachers should be a valuable resource for this!
- Drafting is a key part of the writing process: your first draft should by any means be your final. Continue to revise while letting other people, especially teachers and counselors, read these drafts. They will give you valuable input and possibly see things that you may have missed. Asking for help is necessary!
Good luck on your writing journey!