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❶However, selective colleges receive applications from many worthy students with similar scores and grades—too many to admit.

Tips for a Stellar College Application Essay

Telling Your Story to Colleges
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What Excellent College Essays Have in Common

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. Describe what you learned from the experience and how it changed you. A student who can make an admissions officer laugh never gets lost in the shuffle. What you think is funny and what an adult working in a college thinks is funny are probably different. We caution against one-liners, limericks and anything off—color. Set it aside for a few days and read it again.

Put yourself in the shoes of an admissions officer: Is the essay interesting? Do the ideas flow logically? Does it reveal something about the applicant?

What you write in your application essay or personal statement should not contradict any other part of your application—nor should it repeat it. Instead, I told him I wanted to become a board-certified behavior analyst. A BCBA helps develop learning plans for students with autism and other disabilities. Basically, I would get to do what I love for the rest of my life. He laughed and told me that it was a nice change that a seventeen-year-old knew so specifically what she wanted to do.

I smiled, thanked him, and left. But it occurred to me that, while my desired occupation was decided, my true goal in life was still to become a Fixer-Upper. I'll do one thing during the day, then spend my off-hours helping people where I can. Instead of flying like Sue, though, I'll opt for a nice performance automobile.

My childhood self would appreciate that. Bridget takes a somewhat different approach than Stephen, but her essay is just as detailed and engaging. Let's go through some of the strengths of her essay. The essay is arranged chronologically. Bridget starts each paragraph with a clear signpost of where we are in time:.

I wanted to become a board-certified behavior analyst. It helps that the metaphor is a very clear one: Every childhood Fixer-Upper ever.

Ask your parents to explain the back row to you. This essay uses many techniques that make Bridget sound genuine and make the reader feel like we already know her. The second technique is the way Bridget coins her own terms, carrying them through the whole essay. It would be easy enough to simply describe the people she imagined in childhood as helpers or assistants, and to simply say that as a child she wanted to rule the world.

The third technique is to use sentences of varying length, syntax, and structure. Most of the essay's written in standard English and uses grammatically correct sentences.

However, at key moments, Bridget emphasizes that the reader needs to sit up and pay attention by switching to short, colloquial, differently punctuated, and sometimes fragmented sentences. The last key moment that gets the small-sentence treatment is the emotional crux of the essay. As we watch Bridget go from nervously trying to help disabled students to falling in love with this specialty field, she undercuts the potential sappiness of the moment by relying on changed-up sentence length and slang: The best essays convey emotions just as clearly as this image.

Explain the car connection better. The essay begins and ends with Bridget's enjoying a car ride, but this doesn't seem to be related either to the Fixer-Upper idea or to her passion for working with special-needs students.

It would be great to either connect this into the essay more, or to take it out altogether and create more space for something else. It makes perfect sense that Bridget doesn't want to put her students on display. It would take the focus off of her and possibly read as offensive or condescending. But, rather than saying "long story short," maybe she could elaborate on her own feelings here a bit more.

What is it about this kind of teaching that she loves? What is she hoping to bring to the lives of her future clients? How can you use this discussion to better your own college essay? Here are some suggestions for ways to use this resource effectively. Make a note whenever you find an essay or part of an essay that you think was particularly well-written, and think about what you like about it. Does it help you really get to know the writer?

Does it show what makes the writer unique? Once you have your list, keep it next to you while writing your essay to remind yourself to try and use those same techniques in your own essay. When you figure out how all the cogs fit together, you'll be able to build your own All of these essays rely on connecting with the reader through a heartfelt, highly descriptive scene from the author's life.

It can either be very dramatic did you survive a plane crash? Either way, it should be personal and revealing about you, your personality, and the way you are now that you are entering the adult world. Let me level with you: And in order to have time to rewrite, you have to start way before the application deadline. Let it sit for a few days untouched.

Then come back to it with fresh eyes and think critically about what you've written. What is in the wrong place? What doesn't make sense? Don't be afraid to take it apart and rearrange sections. Do this several times over, and your essay will be much better for it! Interested in learning more about college essays? Working on the rest of your application? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score.

Download it for free now:. Anna scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, and went on to major in English at Princeton and to get her doctorate in English Literature at Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education. You should definitely follow us on social media. You'll get updates on our latest articles right on your feed. Follow us on all 3 of our social networks:.

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Anna Wulick Jun 1, Visible Signs of Planning Building out from a narrow, concrete focus. Stellar Execution A killer first sentence. Want to build the best possible college application? How you write your personal essay shows the admissions committee why you are different from other applicants. It provides information about you that test scores, grades, and extracurricular pursuits just cannot.

You can use the essay to describe a favorite activity, to tell a story about yourself, or even a story about your dog, but make sure to really use it — in a way that captures the readers attention and shows that you are exceptional. So how do you write a college application essay? Writing the college application essay can be one of the most daunting parts of applying to college.

For access to free sample successful admissions essays, visit EssayEdge. At LiveCareer, we live and breathe the belief that we can help people transform their work lives, and so do our contributors. Our experts come from a variety of backgrounds but have one thing in common:


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We hope these essays inspire you as you write your own personal statement. Just remember to be original and creative as you share your story. Just remember to .

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Crafting an Unforgettable College Essay Most selective colleges require you to submit an essay or personal statement as part of your application. It may sound like a chore, and it will certainly take a substantial amount of work.

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By writing a stellar personal essay as part of your college admissions application. It may be only words — or sometimes only words — but the admissions essay(s) portion of a college application can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection. Other Sample College Essays. Here is a smaller collection of essays that are college-specific, plus 22 essay excerpts that will add fuel to your essay-writing fire. Smith College Each year, Smith asks its applicants to answer a different prompt with a word essay.

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Read selected examples of essays that worked, as nominated by our admissions committee. The essays can be the most important components of your application. College admissions officers read thousands of college application essays. These tips and strategies can help you make a strong impression.