Powerful Words Leave a Lasting Impression

Tips for writing your admissions essay

Students across the nation are preparing for admission into institutions of higher learning. As students begin to position themselves into the highly competitive scholarship arena, the admissions essay becomes a critical determinant in the actual award process. The admissions essay serves as the proxy for the student. It is through this information that the committee is able to generate a mental picture of the applicants and their desire to change their lives through education. An investment of a student’s ability, time, and consideration is required in the construction of an essay that will supersede the competition and win the hearts of the committee. It should be an organized, structured document that is free of grammatical errors and properly formatted to include an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. It should contain information relative to academic performance, community service, and extracurricular activities. The admissions essay should represent a holistic assessment of significant accomplishments and present the student as a well-rounded individual.

A great cognitive strategy to utilize in the construction of the document is brainstorming.

Articulate your attributes and accolades and then expand upon and capture those things that separate you from the competition.

Once you have finished brainstorming, you are ready to begin your introduction. The introduction should begin by grabbing your audience’s attention. Then use your brainstorming as the points of reference for the body of your essay; the body should have at least three paragraphs and cover the most important topics from your brainstorming session. You are now ready for the conclusion, which summarizes what you have stated in your essay. Please avoid concluding your essay with “in conclusion,” as it is an understood concept and it will distinguish you from 60 percent of the competition.

Author Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail.” Your admissions essay must leave a trail in the minds of the reviewer/evaluator(s). Happy Hunting!


This article was written by Lori Swanigan

Lori Swanigan is an admissions counselor at LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis,Tennessee.

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