You cannot expect the same caliber essay question from an Ivy League University as you might from a school known mostly from their ability to captilize on being best known for parties. Tufts University, a prestigious Boston-area college has included a question of ‘Carpe diem’ versus ‘YOLO’ (You Only Live Once) as one of their admission essays questions while the University of Chicago makes no apologies for being “renowend for its provocative essay questions” that they believe give students the opportunity to “tell us about themselves, their tastes, and their ambitions.”
As students are unable to prepare for the diversity in college essay topics given it is important for students to understand common essay writing practices that help them to stand out among others when trying to impress the admission departments. Regardless of the essay topic, these tips should be gone through carefully, printed out, and checked off one by one. They are ALL relevant.
1. Stay on topic. Do not ramble, blab, or otherwise find yourself trailing off topic. Do not go off on a tangent. Do not find yourself in a land of irrelevance. Eliminate anything irrelevant.
2. It’s not about you. This may seem a little off because colleges and universities are often asking you a personal question, but it’s not about you in the sense that it’s about what you can do. It’s about your character, your values, your knowledge, your ability to form sentences, grammar, and get rid of the excess. Go back to number 1. It’s about your ability to not focus on just talking about you in an endless manner. Think as if you were writing as if you were speaking with good manners and not all “me, me, me” and carrying on like a journal “and then, and then, and then…” Speak with intellect.
3. If you aren’t sure what a word means, don’t use it. The same goes for grammar and use of punctuation. Don’t try to sound smarter or older. Be yourself.
4. Avoid cliches. Nobody wants to read 2000 essays that include boring statements such as “every cloud has a silver lining.” Explain things in your own words.
5. Embrace your flaws. Self-awareness makes you sound mature. If you write about how perfect you are, people will see right through you and you will come across as if you are holding something back or not speaking the truth. Show who you really are, weakness and all. Speak about overcoming an obstacle to become who you are.
6. Talk about the university’s program(s). A college wants to know why you think their school is a good “fit” for you, and what you can bring to the table as a student there. Are you interested in any clubs? Are you interested in student government? Tell the school how you plan to continue the school’s reputation for excellence. The school wants to know what you can do for THEM and how being a good fit for you is in turn, good for them. How are you an asset to the school and not just there to earn a degree and move on.
7. Get help. There are drastic changes between what you have learned in high school and what is expected in college. Many students have not been asked to write a college level essay before they start applying to college. Many students have admitted that the emphasis put on standardized testing means that their teachers focused more on preparing for SATs and ACTS rather than focusing on the importance of learning to write college level material. If you are one of these students, get help on writing your college admissions essay. We here at SAT Preparation Group have a college essay writing series. Click on the image below to learn how to get more help!
8. Follow the directions and stay within the word limit! It seems like a no-brainer, but so many students think these instructions are more like “suggestions” rather than absolute rules. Self-edit until you have enough words on the page whether you need to cut back or write more and make sure that your essay fits the guidelines of every suggestion we have given above! Many admissions counselors will simply stop reading your essay if they think you haven’t respected the rules and guidelines given for writing a college admissions essay and the time and money spent for your college admission essay will be wasted.
9. Edit and proofread. Don’t just submit your college admissions essay. Get someone to read your essay for flaws. Sit down with a copy of your essay and read it outloud. It is easy to overlook mistakes.
10. Don’t lie or exaggerate your assets. It is easy to see right through someone’s exagerations.
Do you have any more college essay suggestions? What suggestion was the most helpful for you? Let us know in the blog comments!
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