So take the extra time and edit! Take the pressure off and try free-writing to limber up. If you are having trouble coming up with what it is you want to convey or finding the perfect story to convey who you are, use prompts such as: Share one thing that you wish people knew about you. What have you enjoyed about high school? I suggest handwriting versus typing on a keyboard for 20 minutes. Don't worry about making it perfect, and don't worry about what you are going to write about.
Think about getting yourself into a meditative state for 20 minutes and just write from the heart. To get myself in a meditative state, I spend 60 seconds set an alarm drawing a spiral. Never let the pen come off the page, and just keep drawing around and around until the alarm goes off. Then, start writing. It might feel you didn't write anything worthwhile, but my experience is that there is usually a diamond in the rough in there Do this exercise for days straight, then read out loud what you have written to a trusted source a parent?
Don't expect a masterpiece from this exercise though stranger things have happened. The goal is to discover the kernel of any idea that can blossom into your college essay—a story that will convey your message, or clarity about what message you want to convey.
Show your emotions. Adding feelings to your essays can be much more powerful than just listing your achievements. It allows reviewers to connect with you and understand your personality and what drives you. In particular, be open to showing vulnerability. Nobody expects you to be perfect and acknowledging times in which you have felt nervous or scared shows maturity and self-awareness. This college essay tip is by Charles Maynard, Oxford and Stanford University Graduate and founder of Going Merry , which is a one-stop shop for applying to college scholarships Be genuine and authentic.
Your essay should be a true representation of who you are as a person—admissions officers want to read essays that are meaningful, thoughtful, and consistent with the rest of the application. Essays that come from the heart are the easiest to write and the best written. Have a teacher or counselor, not just your smartest friend, review and edit your essays.
This college essay tip is by Jonathan April, University of Chicago graduate, general manager of College Greenlight , which offers free tools to low-income and first-generation students developing their college lists. Note how the writer incorporates a wide range of details and images through one particular lens: a scrapbook. Prompt: Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations. The layouts of the pages are already imprinted in my mind, so I simply draw them on scratch paper.
Now I can really begin. Cutting the first photograph, I make sure to leave a quarter inch border. I then paste it onto a polka-dotted green paper with a glue stick.
For a sophisticated touch, I use needle and thread to sew the papers together. Loads of snipping and pasting later, the clock reads three in the morning. I look down at the final product, a full spread of photographs and cut-out shapes. As usual, I feel an overwhelming sense of pride as I brush my fingers over the crisp papers and the glossy photographs. For me, the act of taking pieces of my life and putting them together on a page is my way of organizing remnants of my past to make something whole and complete.
This particular project is the most valuable scrapbook I have ever made: the scrapbook of my life. The entire left side I have dedicated to the people in my life. All four of my Korean grandparents sit in the top corner; they are side by side on a sofa for my first birthday —my ddol. Meanwhile, my Texas cousins watch Daniel, the youngest, throw autumn leaves into the air that someone had spent hours raking up.
To the right, my school peers and I miserably pose for our history teacher who could not resist taking a picture when he saw our droopy faces the morning of our first AP exam.
I move over to the right side of the page. At the top, I have neatly sewn on three items. The first is a page of a Cambodian Bible that was given to each of the soldiers at a military base where I taught English. Beneath it is the picture of my Guatemalan girls and me sitting on the dirt ground while we devour arroz con pollo, red sauce slobbered all over our lips.
I reread the third item, a short note that a student at a rural elementary school in Korea had struggled to write in her broken English. I lightly touch the little chain with a dangling letter E included with the note. Moving to the lower portion of the page, I see the photo of the shelf with all my ceramic projects glazed in vibrant hues. With great pride, I have added a clipping of my page from the Mirror, our school newspaper, next to the ticket stubs for Wicked from my date with Dad.
I make sure to include a photo of my first scrapbook page of the visit to Hearst Castle in fifth grade. Unlike the previous one, this page is not cluttered or crowded. There is my college diploma with the major listed as International Relations; however, the name of the school is obscure.
The remainder of the page is a series of frames and borders with simple captions underneath. Without the photographs, the descriptions are cryptic. For now, that second page is incomplete because I have no precise itinerary for my future.
The red flags on the map represent the places I will travel to, possibly to teach English like I did in Cambodia or to do charity work with children like I did in Guatemala. As for the empty frames, I hope to fill them with the people I will meet: a family of my own and the families I desire to help, through a career I have yet to decide.
Until I am able to do all that, I can prepare. It reads like the opening to a movie. She keeps clothes for a long time; she likes to be comfortable. What does "Levi's" suggest? She's not obsessed with neatness. What do these details tell us? Family is really important to her. Fireplace: What does a fireplace connote? Warmth, closeness.
My brother's hot cocoa: Why hot cocoa? Again, warmth. How is the fact that her brother made it change the image?
Before you know it, you will have told the story you outlined—and reached the necessary word count—and you will be happy you spent all that time preparing! Start with your main idea, and follow it from beginning to end. Be specific. Be yourself. Bring something new to the table, not just what you think they want to hear. Use humor if appropriate. Be concise. Try to only include the information that is absolutely necessary. Proofread The last step is editing and proofreading your finished essay.
You have worked so hard up until this point, and while you might be relieved, remember: your essay is only as good as your editing. A single grammatical error or typo could indicate carelessness—not a trait you want to convey to a college admission officer.
Give yourself some time. Let your essay sit for a while at least an hour or two before you proofread it. Approaching the essay with a fresh perspective gives your mind a chance to focus on the actual words, rather than seeing what you think you wrote. Computers cannot detect the context in which you are using words, so be sure to review carefully.
They might be fine in a text message, but not in your college essay. Have another person or several! You know what you meant to say, but is it clear to someone else reading your work? Have these people review your application essay to make sure your message is on target and clear to any audience. Read your essay backwards. This may sound a bit silly, but when reading in sequential order, your brain has a tendency to piece together missing information, or fill in the blanks, for you.
This forces you to read each word individually and increases your chances of finding a typo. Approach the essay from a different angle If you look at things a little differently from others you stand out.
In answering an essay prompt, you need not always do it the most normal way. What if you were to take the negative approach to answer the prompt? What are your hopes? Maybe you can tell what your hopes are by writing what you do not hope for. Perhaps you can create a little mystery by not answering the prompt immediately.
What to you want to study? Maybe you could reveal that in the last sentence of your prompt after telling about all the little things that have some relevance to your area of study. For example, you might describe many natural flora, observe fauna, then list feelings you have about nature to lead up to writing that you want to study biology.
You might even bury your answer to a prompt in a story or in a moral tale or even in a description. Be clear and logical As much as you wish to shine, the shine will be lost if your sentences and thoughts do not string together logically. You must make sense to the reader. Reread your essay as though you have no idea what the writer is talking about.
Does it make sense? But which essences should you choose? Why choose a focusing lens? And it need not be a future career--it could be many things. What type of focusing lens might you use to write your essay? A sport? A place? An art form?
A hobby? Storytelling is a visual medium. Write what you know. Know how to cook? Use food. Play chess? Use that! Use your essence objects list for ideas. As a kid I was always curious. In second grade I enrolled in a summer science program and built a solar-powered oven that baked real cookies. I remember obsessing over the smallest details: Should I paint the oven black to absorb more heat?
What about its shape? A spherical shape would allow for more volume, but would it trap heat as well as conventional rectangular ovens? Even then I was obsessed with the details of design. A few years later I designed my first pair of shoes, working for hours to perfect each detail, including whether the laces should be mineral white or diamond white.
Even then I sensed that minor differences in tonality could make a huge impact and that different colors could evoke different responses. In high school I moved on to more advanced projects, teaching myself how to take apart, repair, and customize cell phones.
Whether I was adjusting the flex cords that connect the IPS LCD to the iPhone motherboard, or replacing the vibrator motor, I loved discovering the many engineering feats Apple overcame in its efforts to combine form with function.Try the imperative, think about your future tense, when you would have looked back to the imperfect that defines us and awaits us. Or, maybe they end with a simple, clean truth written from the heart. What do I mean? This college essay tip is by Suzanne Shaffer is a college prep expert, blogger, and author who manages the website Parenting for College. Make sure your basic punctuation is correct.
Family is really important to her. Avoid switching back and forth from different tenses. Read them again. So start by voice recording your essay.
This college essay tip is by Myles Hunter, CEO of TutorMe , an online education platform that provides on-demand tutoring and online courses for thousands of students.
By now you know exactly what you will write about and how you want to tell the story. A sneaky thing can happen as you set about writing your essay: you may find yourself guessing what a college admissions committee is looking for and writing to meet that made up criteria rather than standing firm in who you are and sharing your truest self. If you feel you need to include a description, make it one or two lines. Does it reveal something about the applicant? Write freely and choose a prompt later. Try starting with a question.
An art form? Try starting with a question.