So, you’ve done your research and have selected the schools to which you intend to apply. You’ve visited campuses and spoken to advisors, and you know where you want to go. You’ve also completed forms, gathered recommendations, and put your entire application packet together. Well, almost the entire packet. There is that college admission essay question that still needs to be answered.
The essay is often considered the most difficult part of the college application, responsible for more time and anxiety than all of the other components combined. Beyond that, choosing the college admission essay topic is often the biggest hurdle the college bound student faces. At CollegeView, we offer a wealth of great college information, including helpful advice about how to tackle your college admission essay topic.
The first step to writing your essay is, appropriately enough, choosing your college admission essay topic. Generally, your application presents you with a few choices from which you choose one admission essay question to answer. When you write your college admission essay, a topic with which you feel comfortable will usually return better results than one you feel may be more impressive.
Most advisors agree that while you should keep the goal of the essay in mind (admission to the college or university), you should not write the essay you believe the admission counselors wish you to answer. The purpose of the essay is to not only obtain evidence of your writing ability, but to get an idea of who you are, what makes you unique, and whether the college or university to which you’re applying is a good fit. Choose your college admission essay topic with those goals in mind.
Once you have decided upon your college admission essay topic, let the idea percolate. Take some time to think about it. Brainstorm, and collect and arrange your thoughts. If you have trouble, don’t be afraid to get input from others. Maybe you will decide to write about your most difficult challenge and how it affected you, or how you’ve overcome adversity to get where you are now. Pick something intuitive and meaningful to you.
Once you’ve chosen a personal college application essay topic, it’s also a good idea to get ideas from family members or close friends who went through the event with you. Your goal is to introduce yourself to the reader. According to The Essay: Your Key to Getting in and Getting More, a great article by Sally Wood about how to write about your college application essay topic, the reader should feel as though he or she knows you personally when they’ve read your essay.
When you’re fully prepared and ready to write your college admission essay, the idea is to capture the reader’s interest right from the first line. Bring the reader in immediately with an intriguing hook or amusing thought.
There are many ways to write an arresting essay. One such way is to use concrete examples and descriptions to illustrate your college admission essay topic, to make it “come alive” to the reader. If your topic concerns your love of the forest, and through that your interest in becoming a field dendrologist (a person who studies trees) or a woodland restoration ecologist, don’t simply say “I love the forest.” Instead describe what you love about it: nights spent camping, listening to the wind whisper through the maple, oak, and elm leaves; the deep, pungent smell of pine, with needles softly crunching underfoot. You know why you love the forest–put it in your essay. These are the details that will flesh out your college admission essay topic, answer any question posed, and firm up your idea for the reader.
Once you’ve finished writing, and you feel you’ve properly addressed your college admission essay topic, the next step is to proof your work. Read your essay. Then read it again. Then give it to someone else to read. Ask them whether you’ve not only covered the topic and answered the college admission essay question thoroughly, but whether you’ve done it in a way that makes it distinct. Don’t take “it’s really good” or “I like it” for an answer. You want to have written an essay that will make you stand out from the hundreds or possibly thousands of essays an admissions counselor reads. You want them to remember you the next day, which can be a difficult task.
Here is another tip: don’t rely upon your word processing program’s spell check feature to catch all your mistakes. It’s common to make grammatical errors when you focus on your writing, and although many words can technically be spelled correctly, they can still be contextually inaccurate. For example, “there,” “their,” and “they’re,” are not interchangeable, but if you do use the wrong one by mistake your spell check won’t catch it.
Additionally, review the rules and guidelines once more to make sure you’ve correctly formatted your essay; it’s all too easy to have perfectly covered your college admission essay topic, and have written a great essay, only to lose points because you didn’t double space the document or use the requested font.
Some good news: once you’ve answered your college admission essay question, chances are you can use your essay for more than one application. Many of the questions posed are similar in theme, so even if you have to adjust the college admission essay to better fit the topic, you’ll still have the bulk of the work done.
You’ll find a wealth of free information and tools at CollegeView.com, including an intuitive, easy-to-use search tool. Our search feature provides access to our huge database of colleges and universities, where you can create a list of search results based on whichever criteria is most important to you. We also provide great information about financial aid, admissions, choosing your major or career path, and campus life. We’re happy to help you begin moving toward the rest of your life.
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