Ready to go to college?

Try these tips before turning in that college essay


Seniors are beginning to write their college application essays. Many of you may have questions, or are not sure how to begin your essay.

If you are uneasy about writing your essay, here are a few tips to help you through the process. If you are still stuck on finding a topic to write about, discuss your immediate interest with your senior English teacher.

Your teacher will have loads of information about current topics in higher education that might match your interest.

A question you will hear many seniors ask is if they should write different essays for each college they apply to. The answer is that it depends. If the university you are applying to is very holistic towards their essay request, you may want to modify your original essay and submit the same essay. Private universities will ask students to submit responses to specific topics.

Avoid writing a list. Often seniors will make the mistake of writing a list of all their life accomplishments on their essay.

A great college essay should tell a story. Expose your personality. Do tell about your passions in life, competitions you have won and awards you have received.

Remember honesty if key. Do not lie about awards you’ve earned, colleges will sometimes check up on these. Tell a story of who you are, don’t write a list. A list is boring and is easily pushed off to the side as an “average” application. Make yourself stand out. After all you are a human being with a life story. Not a list.

Be yourself. Colleges look at your personality qualities more than you may think.

Tell about any experiences you have had with volunteer work, any extracurricular activities you have participated including sports and clubs. Though you want to introduce yourself, make sure you don’t get off topic. The biggest part of your essay should list activities which showcase your academic abilities and your connection to the school community. Mention goals that you have for yourself, both short-term and long-term. The character you portray in your essay is very important as colleges want good citizens for their community.

Grammar and punctuation do matter. You want your essay to have a clear focus and easy to understand. A sloppy unedited essay is a major turn-off and may hurt your chances at being accepted into a college.

Go over your writing several times. It is OK to make changes, in fact they are encouraged. There is always room for improvement. Revise as many times as you can. It is always a good idea to meet up with your English teacher and ask them if they can help you go over your essay and check for grammatical errors and essay structure. Your teacher will be more than happy to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Avoid “whining”. Be prepared to briefly discuss your academic and personal pitfalls and extensively explain how you excelled beyond your conflict(s). No one is perfect, things happen. College selection committees understand the rigors of scholastic preparation. Showcase your ability to adapt to adversity and rise towards the goal at hand.