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How to Write a College Application Essay

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So much emphasis and pressure revolve around the college application essay that most students approach it with an overwhelming sense of dread. What is often forgotten, however, is that this essay is your chance to shine, to show what a unique and special individual you are. Follow our easy 5-step method to quickly and easily write an application essay that will get you noticed.

1) Pick a topic. Some colleges will give you a list of topics, and some will simply tell you to “write a personal statement.” The latter can often be the most difficult because when you are allowed to choose any subject, it can be hard to settle on just one. Start by brainstorming. Make a list of all the possible ideas that occur to you, and then decide which one is most interesting to you. Writing about what actually interests you will make your writing more interesting to others.

2) Address the question. Now that you have your topic, decide what you want to prove. The biggest pitfall that college applicants fall into is not addressing the question. Remember that the question is just a means by which the college is trying to get to know you better. What should they most know about you? What is your biggest selling point? Jot the answer to this down in one sentence, and let that be your thesis. Then consider how the topic you have chosen can best develop your thesis. If you want to prove that you are a dedicated student, and your topic is “My Biggest Influence,” then explain how a person in your life helped you to become such a dedicated student.

3) Hook your reader. You have heard this a thousand times from your teachers already...but that’s because it is important. Hooking your reader is essential in all writing. You might want to start with a personal narrative or with the description of someone or someplace. Be creative, and be sure to “show” your reader what you are thinking. Don’t tell the reader what to think: create a picture with your language that the reader can see.

4) Remember your audience. The goal here is to convince the college admissions officer that you deserve a spot at his or her school. Never forget that as you write. Even if your topic is “My Biggest Influence,” you don’t want to spend the entirety of your essay telling your reader about someone else. Recount the details that are important and relevant to you, and then expand on your accomplishments and your potential. Try to include information that is not in your transcript. Provide examples that someone could only know by hearing stories of your life.

5) Proofreading. This is essential, and it should not be done by you alone. Get many different people to read your essay and share their thoughts. To make sure that you are expressing the most important points, ask each reader for his or her impression about what you were trying to prove. Listen carefully to everyone’s opinions—but trust yourself in the end. 

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