By October, most high school seniors have narrowed their college choices and are beginning to complete their college applications, including gathering letters of recommendation, resumes and college essays. This original piece of writing has become essential to students’ applications, because it allows them to speak directly to college officials.
It can also be the most anxiety-producing document the students send to the school. And, with about 20 percent of colleges being test optional, the essay has become the second most important piece of your application.
There are four essential elements that college admissions officers are looking for in your essay:
- YOU – They want to know who you are as a person. What is important to you? How are you different than your peers? What are you passionate about? Who are you, beyond the GPA, test scores and resume? How can you make sure your essay reveals who you are beyond all of the things that you do?
- GENUINE – Your essay needs to be in your voice. It needs to sound like you through and through. Don’t pepper your writing with words that you don’t use in everyday conversation in an attempt to impress an admissions counselor. You won’t. Make sure that your writing creates the impression that you are sincerely trying to communicate.
- THOUGHTFUL – Admission officers want to read essays that are introspective, self -reflective and show a desire to continue to grow. If you write about something that happened in your life, make sure that your essay shows that you have learned about yourself through your experience. This may require you to think about your life in a way that you have never deeply thought about it before. Take the time to do this, so that you can illustrate that you are learning from your experiences.
- SURPRISE – Admissions officers read thousands of essays each year. You want your essay to be remembered and to stand out. How do you do that? Approach your topic from an original angle. For example, you could start your essay in the middle of the story you are relating. Have fun. Allow your essay to reveal who you are and to express your uniqueness.
Three Tips for Success in Writing your Essay
- Give yourself the TIME to write your first draft and several revisions of youressay. The average student revises their essay at least four to five times.
- Really THINK about your topic and remember that the admissions committee read thousands of essays. Make it interesting.
- Do a THOROUGH Revise, then revise again until you are proud of your essay. Ask someone you trust to read it before sending it to the college.
Want to know what colleges are test optional? Check out: www.fairtest.org for a list of all the test-optional schools in the US. The list continues to grow.