Colleges often require potential students to submit several different documents during the application process. Other than the actual application itself, a college admission essay is the most important application document.
A good college admission essay will set you apart from the other students applying for the same school, degree or program. A well-crafted essay will show who you are as a person, which is something that Admissions at your future college can’t decipher from your grades and extracurriculars alone.
Below are some of the key features you should put in your college admission essay as well as some other tips to help you as you write your essay.
1. Be Unique
There are likely to be many students who have the same grade point averages, standardized test scores, and extracurriculars as you. From this standpoint, you will seem to be more or less the
same as your peers. When writing a college admission essay, you want to make yourself stand out from the other students applying.
To do this, write about the things that set you apart from your peers. Ask yourself some of the following questions. Why do I want to attend this school? Did one of my hobbies influence my degree choice? Is my family situation unique? Answering any of these questions is sure to provide a unique point of view for your paper that will help set it apart from your peers.
2. Keep on Topic
Sometimes, college admission essays come with prompts and sometimes they don’t. Either way, it is better to keep on topic. Going on tangents in your paper will make it seem unorganized and
messy. Instead, if there is a topic required, stick to it. If you get to pick a topic of your own, make sure it is one that you can write about for the entire required length of the essay.
Staying on topic will help show that you are focused. Colleges want their students to be focused!
3. Discuss Academic Achievements
If you are applying to college for the first time, it is better to write about what you have accomplished in the high school already. It is better to focus on your academic accomplishments, rather than your athletic accomplishments (unless you are trying to get in on a sports
scholarship). Show what you have to offer the school.
If you are applying for a graduate school, or if you have attended college before and are transferring or returning to school, then it is better to write about your academic experiences and accomplishments in the college, rather than high school. This is simply because your college experience is more recent and because it will be a better example of what you are likely to bring to your new school.
4. Don’t Exaggerate
It’s better to be truthful in your college admission essay. After all, you wouldn’t lie on a resume to get a job, so why should you lie in an essay to get accepted to a school? In the worst case scenario, a school will know that you suspect you are lying, look into it, and then reject you from the school. People who work in the Admissions office need to be educated, so they are not likely to be fooled by the lies of a high schooler. Instead, it is better to simply tell the truth. Colleges appreciate honesty, and they are much more likely to enroll an honest student than someone who they suspect to be a liar.
5. Edit Often
Once you have written the first draft of your paper, make sure to look at it again. Editing is one of the most important parts of the essay-writing process. Run your essay through a spelling and
grammar checker, have a friend or teacher look at your essay, and make sure to read it out loud to catch any mistakes you might otherwise gloss over.
Turning in an essay that is riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes will make you look bad. The more editing you do, the better your paper is likely to turn out.
6. Don’t Reuse Essays
Finally, if you are applying to several colleges, do not use the same college admission essay for every college you apply for. Instead, you should either edit the paper to fit each school’s specific requirements or write an entirely new paper for each college.
The reasoning for this tip is the same as the first. The more unique the paper, the more likely it is to catch the eye of the Admissions employee. If you write one essay to use for all the colleges you apply to, then it is likely that the essay will be generic. However, if you write a new exclusive essay for each college, or even just edit one article to make it fit the other school’s requirements, then you will add a level of uniqueness to your paper that you otherwise wouldn't have.
All in all, you will know if you have a good college admission essay if you are confident that it will help you stand out - in a good way, of course! Write about your accomplishments, goals, and why you think the college is right for you. The better written your paper is, the better your chances of getting accepted into the school are.