High school seniors, it’s crunch time for those college application essays – so what better time to share tips on how to be most effective? What you write in your essay has become increasingly important in terms of admission. Some colleges are blunt when saying a real person will be reading this. But remember, colleges truly want to know who you are and why you are interested in attending them.
Tip 1. Resist the urge to sound too formal. Good grammar and thoughtful writing count. However, make sure your true self shines through without too many toots to your own horn. It is important to instill confidence while remaining humble.
Tip 2. Have a focus. You are not going to explain your whole life in 650 words, so don’t try. Choose a topic that reflects who you are while sharing your goals as a student on the college’s campus. What inspires your intellectual curiosity?
Tip 3. Focus on the message, not the word count. Unnecessary worry about word count can be self-defeating, sometimes leading to a self-imposed writer’s block! I commonly hear: “But Mrs. Murray, if I try to tell that story, it will be too long!” Baloney. Write the real story first, then we’ll cut it to the necessary word count, whatever it may be. Nine out of 10 times, it’s better shorter, anyway.
Tip 4. Don’t get bogged down with too much grammar right out the gate. Remember, you can always edit later. Prove early on you can write a simple declarative sentence with active verbs, then start mixing it up: Vary sentence length to add suspense, use exclamations to show emotion and use semicolons sparingly.
Tip 5. Avoid clichés. If your essay is the 20th essay a recruiter has read that day, he or she likely doesn’t want to hear about how you gained independence when learning to drive or how bad you felt when your dog passed away. Everybody feels that. Surprise the recruiter instead. Grab his or her attention and keep it for increased chances.