While obtaining a high score on your ACT or SAT will certainly take effort, the college essay requires its own practice and skill set.
College applications sound simple enough. Submit your transcripts, test score, and extracurricular activities to the institutions you want to attend. Unfortunately, there is a bit more nuance involved in this process.
Universities are looking at thousands and thousands of applications year after year. The admissions offices have seen it all, and the abundance of applicants makes it difficult to stand out and ensure an acceptance letter.
Fortunately, there are still ways to craft a compelling application. With a little time and dedication, students can use these tips to help sell themselves and show their college of choice why they are a good fit for their campus.
#1: Start Ahead of Time
Drafting up your college applications at the last minute is a good way to run into issues. Not only will rushing lead to grammatical mistakes, but it also adds a lot of pressure.
While a tiny bit of pressure is good for motivation, excess pressure is bad for creating your best work.
Students who start writing their essays early can comfortably think about their best traits and describe them to colleges.
These students will also have lots of time to look over their applications and fix errors. Many teachers, counselors, or even parents will be happy to give your college essays a look to catch spelling mistakes or make suggestions.
#2: Choose A Topic That Suits You
Many colleges that ask for an essay offer multiple prompts. These prompts are often pretty vague and allow for a broad range of events to be written about.
A good way to choose between these prompts is to reverse engineer it. First find an important moment in your life that you can recall well. If this moment demonstrates your strengths and you think that sharing it will help you look better, use that moment.
The moment should be primarily about you and your actions, even if the event as a whole was not about you. This is your essay and should tell your story.
Then go back and look at the list of prompts. You can likely fit this moment into one of the writing prompts with a little creativity.
#3: Stay Consistent In Your Approach
College essays often take either a narrative approach or a thematic approach.
In a narrative format essay, students will take an experience they've had and explain why it is important to them. Much like telling a story to a friend, students explain what happened and why it was interesting to the audience. In this case, the audience is the college admissions office.
In a thematic essay, a student will take a recurring theme instead of one particular moment to focus on. This theme might be a skill you're proud of, a hobby you've maintained, or even an issue you have had to deal with. The idea is that rather than describing one isolated instance, you use a multitude of instances to paint a broader picture.
Both approaches can be highly effective, but staying consistent to one will help to keep your essay from going off-topic.
#4 Use An Outline
This last tip may sound simple, but the effectiveness of proper planning cannot be overstated. The human brain is a thought making machine. It is really easy to get off topic or lose sight of the story you are trying to tell.
Using an outline is a great way to keep your thoughts on track and prevent your essay from losing focus.
The college application is just one piece of a larger puzzle.
The college process is all about building a case to sell yourself to these institutions. A combination of a good GPA, a strong application, and high standardized test scores are the key to success. No one piece will carry the entire weight.
For more information or help with the college admissions process, check out our website here. Our instructors offer best-in-class tutoring sessions to help raise student’s test scores and prepare them for their college journey.