Those who have applied to college in the past know that the admissions essay is a large part of the application process. Admissions counselors and committees often use the essay to get to know an applicant's personality, but to also try to understand how the person thinks and presents themselves on paper.
Before Writing a College Admissions Essay
The most important thing to do before writing a college admissions essay is to choose a focused, yet personal, topic. College admissions counselors use essays to uncover an applicant's personality, thought processes, and strength in the English language. Admissions staff members want to know how a student thinks, and that is what should be revealed in the admissions essay.
According to the College Board, a student's topic should be personal, such as a summer spent abroad, a job, or family event, but focused enough that the applicant's thought processes follow logically. For example, a student writing about a summer spent in France should write about a particular moment while overseas and not try to cram the entire experience into one admissions essay.
Writing a College Admissions Essay
Before sitting down to write, those who have trouble with organizing thoughts should sit down and create an outline, list of ideas, or a thought web to help structure the essay when it is time to write. All students should take time to reflect on the experience or topic on which they are writing and make sure they know what they want to say in the essay.
Keeping the topic focused and making connections throughout is the key to a good admissions essay. Not only does this make the piece easier to read, but it also helps to demonstrate a student's thought processes and reveals how a student reacts to these memorable experiences, which is something that admissions counselors use to assess an applicant's personality.
After Drafting a College Admissions Essay
It is important to remember that an essay is not done after a student types in the last period. Make sure that the essay is written in enough time to allow it to sit and simmer for a day before revisiting the piece.
After allowing the piece to simmer, applicants should revisit the piece and edit for coherence and to make sure that any lose ends are tied up in the thought process. A good admissions essay is streamlined and as in-depth as possible for a piece that is roughly 500 words.
Finally, a student should go through and proofread the essay for grammatical and stylistic issues. Something as small as a misplaced comma or a simple typographical error could cause a student's application to be tossed in the rejected stack, so it is extremely important that all errors are corrected.
College admissions essays can be intimidating, especially for students who do not like to write or do not think it is one of their strong points. However, some careful planning and thought can help students of all writing abilities ace the admissions essay for the college or university of their choice.