For a young college hopeful, there is a great deal of stress involved in college applications. The volume of forms and information you must provide is one of the reasons for that stress, but the thought of having to write an admissions essay also plays a significant role. Here are some easy tips to follow when you’re writing an essay for college that should help you better manage the stress and help you write a great essay.
Writing an Essay for College
The first thing you should do when writing an essay for college is to spend a few minutes brainstorming. It can be daunting to stare at a blank page, so don’t do it! Start with a brainstorming session and make a list of the things you would like to highlight. This list should include your best personality traits, your strengths and highlights from your high school years. Remember to include activities outside of high school as well, like volunteer work, jobs, groups you were involved in, etc. When it’s time to start writing the essay, you will already have some key points that to start with so it won’t be a blank page.
Create an Outline
After you have a list of the items you want to highlight, turn it into an outline. Make sure the structure of your outline includes any specific questions or directions that were part of the instructions for completing the application.
In most (general) college application essays, there should be three different parts: Introduction, body, conclusion.
- The introduction should be a single paragraph that introduces the reader to you, and to the rest of your essay.
- The body is the main part of your essay and should be several paragraphs long. There should be an overriding theme of the essay and this is where you should include the examples you came up with during the brainstorming session.
- The conclusion of your college essay should be a one paragraph summary.
Write the First Draft
When you start writing your essay for college, just focus on getting something down on paper. Get your thoughts down on paper, even if you’re not happy with how the writing part is going. Your first draft probably won’t have all the best words and organization you will want in the final draft, but it will usually capture the best ideas.
On the first draft, just write it out and capture those ideas, then you can go back later and fine tune the words and structure.
It might be tempting to fudge the truth about your accomplishments, or even your opinions. Too often potential college students get too caught up in trying to write what they think the admission counselors want to hear, instead of focusing on the best way to present themselves as an individual.
Revise Your Essay
Once you’ve completed the first draft of your essay for college, review what you’ve written. This is where you should go back and look at your original list and make sure you’ve found a way to include everything you wanted to say.
During this review you should also focus on identifying and fixing any problems and improving the writing of your admissions essay.
Although some college essays can be quite personal, it’s still a good idea to have someone else look at your essay before you finalize it. After you probably spent several hours with the ideas and topics, you can develop a bit of a blind spot. Someone else can look at your essay with a fresh perspective and will be able to identify any holes or problems with your essay.
Proofread and Spell Check
The very last thing you want to happen is to spend hours crafting an essay for college that shows who you are and why you would make a great college student, and then have it all ruined by a misspelling or typo. Use an online spellchecker to double check your essay for college and take an extra look to make sure that all your details are right.
Now you should be on track to write a slam dunk college essay!