As a senior in high-school, a job that never seems to be done is the college application process. Almost every college requires you to woo them with the wizardry of your words in an application essay. The prompts may vary, but the fact remains – you’re competing with thousands of other students for a limited number of spots.
So, to give you a leg up on the competition, here are four tips to help you write a great college application essay.
1. Understand Your Prompt
College application essays come with any number of different prompts, from “what is your greatest accomplishment?” to, “what three things would you bring if you were stranded on a desert island?” Before you spend all that time writing and working on the essay, make sure that you know what the prompt is asking of you. Most essays have a word limit, and you can’t spare the words getting lost on a tangent. It won’t hurt to come up with a light outline of what you want to say in your essay to help you stay on track, either.
2. Don’t Do Too Much or Try Too Hard
All throughout high school, these essays are presented as the only chance you have to stand out from the crowd. Colleges seem to only accept the best of the best, the ones that spend their after-school hours on humanitarian trips to all corners of the globe. The only problem with that is, everyone thinks that these are the experiences that must be written about, leaving you as just one more person in the crowd if you choose to try and do too much.
The people tasked with sifting through all the applications that a college receives are tired of seeing their applicants try to be the same person. Get creative and be different. There is only one you! Make sure that they can see that in your writing, and be yourself. (Don’t just take it from us – a girl wrote about her love of pizza and got into Yale, so you don’t have to be writing about groundbreaking stuff here.)
3. Leave Shakespeare in English Class
In the same way that people try too hard to impress with their stories, many students try to show the admissions board that they already boast a vocabulary rival to the English professors that teach there. You’re supposed to be an intelligent high school senior - emphasis on the high school - so sound like it. Clean and controlled writing is better than finding yourself out of your element because you went crazy with a thesaurus.
Fancy words should be used like the ingredients in a spice cabinet. Used at the right time and in the proper amount, these fancy words enhance your writing and give your reader something delectable (see what I did there?) to sample. On the other hand, everyone knows that when you add too much salt, it can ruin an entire meal. Keep it simple, demonstrate confidence in your level of writing, and you will stand out.
4. Have Fun
Applying for college can be stressful. It’s the next big step in your life, and you don’t want to make it any harder than it needs to be. College application essays are an opportunity for you to show others what you are made of, and you should enjoy that process!