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Telling Your Story to Colleges

❶It provides information about you that test scores, grades, and extracurricular pursuits just cannot.

Tips for a Stellar College Application Essay

Ready to build a strong resume?
1. Get to know your prompt
2. Brainstorm

Admissions committees put the most weight on your high school grades and your test scores. However, selective colleges receive applications from many worthy students with similar scores and grades—too many to admit. You have a unique background, interests and personality. This is your chance to tell your story or at least part of it.

The best way to tell your story is to write a personal, thoughtful essay about something that has meaning for you. Be honest and genuine, and your unique qualities will shine through. Admissions officers have to read an unbelievable number of college essays, most of which are forgettable. Many students try to sound smart rather than sounding like themselves. Others write about a subject that they don't care about, but that they think will impress admissions officers.

You don't need to have started your own business or have spent the summer hiking the Appalachian Trail. Colleges are simply looking for thoughtful, motivated students who will add something to the first-year class. It could be an experience, a person, a book—anything that has had an impact on your life. Anyone can write about how they won the big game or the summer they spent in Rome. When recalling these events, you need to give more than the play-by-play or itinerary.

Brainstorm Get your creative juices flowing by brainstorming all the possible ideas you can think of to address your college essay question. You have years to draw from, so set aside time to mentally collect relevant experiences or events that serve as strong, specific examples. This is also time for self-reflection. Choose three concepts you think fit the college application essay prompt best and weigh the potential of each. Which idea can you develop further and not lose the reader?

Which captures more of who you really are? You should have enough supporting details to rely on this as an excellent demonstration of your abilities, achievements, perseverance, or beliefs. Shape your story so that it has an introduction, body, and conclusion.

Following this natural progression will make your essay coherent and easy to read. How are you going to open your essay? Try to identify what the tone of your essay is going to be based on your ideas. Stick to your writing style and voice. Put the words in your own voice. A Step-by-Step Example 4. Write the essay Once you are satisfied with your essay in outline format, begin writing!

Start with your main idea, and follow it from beginning to end. Bring something new to the table, not just what you think they want to hear. Use humor if appropriate. Try to only include the information that is absolutely necessary. Proofread The last step is editing and proofreading your finished essay. Let your essay sit for a while at least an hour or two before you proofread it.

Approaching the essay with a fresh perspective gives your mind a chance to focus on the actual words, rather than seeing what you think you wrote. Computers cannot detect the context in which you are using words, so be sure to review carefully.

They might be fine in a text message, but not in your college essay. You know what you meant to say, but is it clear to someone else reading your work? Have these people review your application essay to make sure your message is on target and clear to any audience.

This may sound a bit silly, but when reading in sequential order, your brain has a tendency to piece together missing information, or fill in the blanks, for you. Did you know almost every admissions counselor agrees that a memorable essay does have an impact on the overall application? Here are 10 tips from a college professor on how to succeed with your college application: Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to primary sidebar.

Edited by Randall S. Career Resources , student. LiveCareer Staff Writer At LiveCareer, we live and breathe the belief that we can help people transform their work lives, and so do our contributors. Those are all amazing tips to follow. Let us know if there is anything specific we can help you with and good luck!


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What you write in your application essay or personal statement should not contradict any other part of your application–nor should it repeat it. This isn't the place to list your awards or discuss your grades or test scores. 6. Answer the question being asked. Don't reuse an answer to a similar question from another application. 7.

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Learn how to write a successful college application essay using the three-step process for writing your personal college admissions essay.   Gaining entrance to just about any college or university continues to get harder as more and more applicants are applying for a limited number of spaces.

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Your character shows up in three places on the application: the interview (if you have one), your involvement in extracurricular activities, and your essay. Of the three, the essay is the most immediate and illuminating to the admissions folks as they read through thousands of applications. Your essay can give admission officers a sense of who you are, as well as showcasing your writing skills. Try these tips to craft your college application essay. Your essay can give admission officers a sense of who you are, as well as showcasing your writing skills.

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Summer Institute Higher Education Workshop and College Fair; College Board Professional Opportunities; Communities. ideas and overall support can go a long way in helping your students write their essays. This article is based, in part, on information found in The College Application Essay, by Sarah Myers McGinty. Downloads & Handouts.