College EssayUpdated: Nov 28, 2016
One of the first things you'll learn about a college is that there's a lot of writing! While in high school, you may have a 5 or 10-page paper as a final assignment, you'll have these assignments frequently in college. A final assignment in college may be closer to 20 pages! But if you're new to the idea of writing a college essay, don't fear! Here are some basics that will help you understand what a college essay is, how it's different from what you used to write in high school, and some tips on doing it well.
WRITING A STRONG COLLEGE ESSAY
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What Is a College Essay?
A college essay is a writing assignment meant to be a companion to a college application. A standard college essay supplements the academic performance and standardized test scores for an admissions office and allows the students to give a more qualitative expression of themselves, contributing to a complete profile on their application.
In some cases, college essays may be free form expressions for the students writing them, but often colleges will provide a prompt or list of topics on which to write, given an assigned word count range. This can take the form of a standard essay, or resemble a reflection or personal essay, depending on the stipulations of each college. In the United States, many colleges are using the Common Application, using standard essay topics and making the entire application process much less time consuming and more convenient for students.
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How to Write a College Essay
To write a college essay, first consider the prompt or topic at hand, and how it applies to your life. It is important to consider several options to tie in the essay topic to your personal life experiences so that you can judge these options against each other. When you’ve decided on an experience or narrative that you feel reflects you in your best light, start writing. Follow these guidelines for the best college essay results:
1. Stay With Your Own Voice. When writing their college essays, many applicants may feel pressured to present themselves in a different light than they would in any other context. The fact is, you tend to do your best writing in the tone and voice where you feel the most comfortable. Don’t try to stretch your comfort zone to impress the person reading your essay.
2. Hold Your Reader’s Attention. As you write, think to yourself: “is this something I would enjoy reading?” Remember, the person reading your essay probably reads countless others each year. To make sure yours stands out and captivates, remember to reflect rather than simply recount events as you go through a narrative. This will help your work remain original, creative and hold the attention of the reader.
3. Answer the College Essay Prompts Directly. College admissions offices are looking for a creative, well-thought and well-crafted essay. To produce this result, make sure that you’re answering the prompt directly and reiterating that answer throughout your work. This will help you stay on-topic and remain clear and concise all the way through your essay.
4. Edit and Edit Again. You will likely need several drafts before you have a final version that you’re happy with, even after exploring all of your subjects strategies in thorough detail. Make sure you re-read over and over as you go, down to the smallest detail and phrase. Each small improvement can have a major effect on the way your writing flows, and each idea becomes cohesive throughout. Remember also to have at least one proofreader; a fresh pair of eyes can be the difference between an impressive college essay and another one the pile for admissions offices.
College Essay Format
College essays typically take the form of reflective essays or personal statements. While there is no uniform distribution of content in a college essay, the following structure can be followed as a general rule for clarity:
Introduction: this should be a single paragraph that provides an overview of the essay’s main ideas, answers the question in the prompt and provides context for the rest of the essay. Like a research abstract, the introductory paragraph allows the reader to comprehend the entirety of the essay before getting into the details, or the narrative.
Body: the body of a college essay has the most variability, as it depends on the topic and length of the essay itself. For most college essays, plan to have 1-3 body paragraphs that tell a clear, concise and engaging story about your personal development and growth. As a general rule, each body paragraph should have a different focal point. Be sure to consider this stipulation as you plan the parts of your essay before you begin to write.
Conclusion: the conclusion of a college essay should restate the central themes of the piece without simply restating the introduction or the parts of the narrative. The key is to find a unique way to wrap things up that shows the level of growth and development the applications office is looking for, clear and concise.
College Essay Topics
Usually, the topics of a college essay will be presented in a way that invites you, the writer, to advertise yourself by providing examples of personal growth and development. The topics may include difficult times or circumstances of adversity in your life or major accomplishments that show growth. As a general rule, the topic of a college essay is meant to provide a way to express yourself in a way that gives an admissions office a candid look at who you are.
College Essay Prompts
While college essay prompts can resemble prompts typical of a reflective essay, there may be more emphasis on personal accomplishments. Think of it as a resume, in a longer format. With more and more colleges moving to the Common Application, college essay prompts are more standardized than ever. Here are some of 2015’s Common Application prompts, courtesy of the Princeton Review.
- “Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?”
- “Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.”
College essay prompts are meant to be complicated so that responses are as varied as possible. Get professional college essay help in order to make sure you react to the prompts in the most effective way.
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You only get one shot to make an impression on the college of your choice. You can increase your odds enormously by letting a writing service be your:
Guidance Counselor: Simply seeking the advice of a more experienced, professional writing assistant can take your writing to the next level. When someone with an expert knowledge of what subject matter is most likely to work, or which prompt has the greatest potential to complement your personality guides you through the strenuous essay process, you’ll be shocked at how easy the whole thing becomes and how satisfied you’ll be with the finished product.
Editor and Proofreader: When you finish a draft of your work, get college essay help at each step along the way. A writing service can proofread your work for grammatical errors and inconsistencies as well as provide recommendations for changes from writers that know what works and what doesn’t.
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