Writing an essay for college admissions allows you to use your authentic voice and show your personality. This is an excellent opportunity to personalize your application beyond your academic credentials, and a well-written essay can positively impact when the decision time comes.

Want to know how to draft an essay for your college application? Here are some tips to keep in mind while writing.

Tips for Essay Writing

A typical college application essay, also known as a personal statement, is 400-600 words. Although it may sound short, writing about yourself can be challenging. You do not want to rush or avoid this at the last minute. Instead, think of it as an essential part of the application process. Follow these tips to write an impressive essay that can work in your favor.

1. Start early.

Very few people write well under pressure. Therefore, complete your first draft a few weeks before you turn it in. Many advisors recommend starting the summer before your senior year in high school. That way, you have plenty of time to think about the sign and craft the best possible personal description.

You don't need to work on your essay every day, but you do need to give yourself time to revise and edit. You may find that you want to change your subject or think of a better way to frame it. Either way, the sooner you start, the better.

2. Understand signs and directions.

Before starting the writing process, take the time to understand what the college wants from you. The worst thing you can do is read the instructions carefully and submit a piece that doesn't even meet the minimum requirements or doesn't address the topic of the essay. Instead, look at the prompt, consider the required word count, and make a note of any specific details each school may want.

3. Build a strong opener.

Students seeking help with their application essays often have trouble getting things started. It is a challenging writing process. Finding the right words to start with can be the hardest part.

Spending more time working on your opener is always a good idea. The opening sentence sets the stage for the rest of your sentence. The introductory paragraph piques the reader's interest and can instantly set your essay apart.

4. Stay on topic.

One of the most important things to remember is to stick to the topic of the essay. If you're applying to 10 or more colleges, it's easy to overwhelm the curriculum with many application essays.

A common mistake many students make is trying to fit already written essays into the mold of another college's requirements. It seems a time-saving way to avoid writing entirely new pieces, but it often backfires. The result is usually a final piece that is generic, out of focus, or confusing. So, no matter how long it takes, write a new essay for every application.

5. Think about your response.

Don't try to guess what the admissions officers want to study. If you're genuinely passionate about your topic, your essay will be easier to write and more exciting to read. Here's an example: If all of your friends are writing application essays about COVID-19, it might be a good idea to avoid that topic unless you've had a vivid, life-changing experience during the pandemic. Don't be someone you're burning to share. Whatever topic you choose, avoid canned responses. Be creative.

6. Pay attention to yourself.

Essay prompts generally give you a lot of latitude, but panelists expect you to focus on a personal topic (though not overly intimate) and particular to you. Admissions counsellors say the best essays help them learn something about a candidate that they would never know from reading the rest of the application.

7. Stay true to your voice.

Use your common vocabulary. Avoid fancy language that you wouldn't use in real life. Imagine you are reading this essay out loud to a class full of people you have never met. Have a confident tone. Be careful with words and phrases that lower that tone.

8. Be specific and factual.

Draw on real-life experiences. Your essay can give you time and space to explain why a particular achievement means so much to you. But resist the urge to embellish and exaggerate. Admissions counsellors read thousands of essays each year. So they can easily spot fakes.

9. Edit and proofread.

When you have finished the final draft, run it through the spell checker on your computer. Take a few days off from reading your essay. When you read it again, you'll be more apt to spot typos and weird grammar. Then, ask a teacher, parent, or college student (preferably an English or communications major) to scan it. Don't forget to double-check your word count as well.

Writing an essay for college admissions can be difficult, but it doesn't have to be. A well-crafted essay can be the deciding factor in your favor. These tips will help you create memorable pieces for every application.

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