A college admission essay is your chance to tell a college about how you’re about more than just a set of grades and test scores. This essay gives you a chance to make a good first impression and demonstrate why you’re a good fit for a college. As colleges strive to have dynamic student populations, a great essay about yourself can help turn the tide in your favor even if your high school academic achievements were less than stellar.
It’s not uncommon to for a college application to ask you to write a one-page essay that describes who you are or asks you to write a personal statement. When a college asks this type of question, the school wants to have a better understanding of who you are, according to the College Board article "3 Ways to Approach Common College Essay Questions." When you face this type of open-ended essay question, this is your chance to tell a college about what matters to you and provide some insight about yourself. Instead of going into depth about your life story, pick one or two main points or events to discuss. For example, if you have the desire to help others, you can discuss a volunteer program that you led as part of a class project.
When you apply to a four-year college that makes a significant investment in its students, it may want to make sure that you plan to stay with it through graduation. A school that has such an interest may ask you to explain why you want to attend the school in the essay section of an application, or it may ask you about your educational and/or career goals. In your essay, you can explain your seriousness about attending the institution by describing how you want to use your college degree. Discuss aspects about the college’s specific academic department that attracts you and how you think that you can be an asset to the school.
Universities aren’t afraid to ask seemingly strange essay questions or questions that ask you to explain your opinions, according to Jeremy S. Hyman and Lynn F. Jacobs in the U.S. News article "10 Tips for Writing the College Application Essay." The sixth essay option for the University of Chicago, for instance, asks the following in its 2012 - 2013 application: "So where is Waldo, really?" When a college asks you such a question, it wants to see how creative, thoughtful or intelligent you are and learn more about your thought process. As you write this type of essay, don’t shy away from inventiveness. At the same time, back up your creativity and opinions with facts.
As you write your college essay, keep the focus of your essay personal and narrow so the admissions board can learn more about you. While you should write to impress, be honest about your experiences and write in your own voice. For instance, instead of having the essay read like a master’s thesis, try to make it sound conversational. Before you even think of submitting your application, have a teacher or parent proofread it for mistakes. Be open to suggestions about improving the essay and fix any statements that your proofreaders think are unclear. Keep in mind that a college’s admission department goes through hundreds of essays a year. Compositions that are genuine, interesting, well-written and thoughtful are more likely to stand out from those that look as if they came from a generic template.
- The College Board: 3 Ways to Approach Common College Essay Questions
- US News: 10 Tips for Writing the College Application Essay
- National Association for College Admission Counseling: Writing a College Essay: Top Ten Tips
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology Admissions Office: How to Write a College Essay
- University of Chicago: Applying to the University of Chicago
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