Every autumn and winter college admission’s offices are flooded with applications to their school. These applications can range from beautifully crafted resumes and grades, to typo-riddled disasters. Still, these college admissions offices perform the laborious work of reading through each and every one of these applications. How can someone stand out? How can an applicant make their admission, one of hundreds an admissions officer will read that day, matter. The answer most college admissions officers will tell you is simple: Writing a great essay.
College admissions are a faceless business. People are reduced to single letters next to subject names. They are reduced to scarcely described activities on resumes. The truth is, until an admissions officer reads an applicants essay, an applicant is a number and nothing more. That is why, instead of dreading the essay sections of college applications people should be excited, not afraid. Writing a great essay is the best way to give colleges a concrete idea of your personality, of who you are as a person.
Writing a college admissions essay that will actually fill out your personality sounds like a grandiose idea. It might even sound impossible. Colleges are not (in most cases) looking to only admit the next Hemingway and Fitzgerald. People also feel as though, unless they have a terribly sad or breathtaking story to tell, their essay can’t help them stand out. This just isn’t true. Simply helping college admissions officers feel like they know the real you tremendously helps your chances of getting accepted to your dream school.
It is, of course, easier said than done, but there are a few tips and tricks that can help anyone craft the perfect admissions essay and present their best self. It is important to, as the old writing adage goes, “show and not tell.” Say you are challenged by a question to find something about yourself of which you are incredibly proud. Maybe it is your focus, your dedication, or your ingenuity. When you find a quality you think college admissions people will be proud to have in their student body, use descriptive language to show the college a time when you used that quality. Stories with imagery and movement help engage readers. If you can draw people in your essay, your personality will shine through.
Showing and not telling is a vital part of creating a great essay. Another, often overlooked aspect, is having your writing be technically flawless. This might sound like a tall order, but college officers are looking for any excuse to make their decision easier. Make it impossible for them to throw your admission packer in the no pile. A misused word, or using “your” instead of “you’re” is an easy mistake to make, but stands out to readers. Have everyone you know read over your essay. Take their advice to heart, and make sure you correct all the errors they find. No work is too little.
An admissions essay can completely reverse a colleges decision on you, it is worth the time and effort it takes to write a truly great one.