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Dec 17th 2013

How to Write a College Application Essay - 10 Practical Ninja Tips

There is no other thing that causes more anxiety for a senior in high school than the college application essay. We wouldn’t exaggerate if we said that their entire future depends on the success of this essay. No matter what the subject of the application essay is, students start quivering when they think someone will be judging them on the basis of a single paper written under pressure.

It’s not easy to offer tips that will make college application essays easier to write, but we did our best to help you go through this challenging phase of life with more confidence. By implementing the 10 tips offered in this article, you will find the strength and motivation to give your best and impress the admission officers that will be evaluating the essay.

  1. Honesty is your way to success
  2. Don’t try to exaggerate with your achievements. There is nothing wrong with being an average high school student, simply because not everyone can be an extraordinary star in everything. Find your best personality aspects and focus on them without exaggerating.

  3. Avoid complicating the paper
  4. Try to keep this in mind when you start writing the essay: stay clear and concise. Don’t aim at presenting yourself as ‘eloquent’ by using big words you don’t even understand. Admission officers have plenty of essays to read each day, and they don’t expect to spend more than few minutes on each. If you give them an essay that’s too long and too complicated, you will be stepping on their toes and lose their interest. You don’t want to do that!

  5. Pay attention to the logical flow
  6. Trying to cover every idea you have in a single essay is impossible. Stay coherent and think of one subject at a time. Your application essay shouldn’t present you as unable to organize your ideas and write in a logical flow. Instead of covering many ideas and discussing them incompletely, stay consistent and make sure all paragraphs and sentences are logically connected.

  7. Present your individuality
  8. If you want to capture the attention of the reader, you have to distinguish yourself from the thousands applicants. The thing that makes you distinctive is your mind and the way you approach different ideas. That’s difficult to explain, but there is something that will help you achieve the ability to express your unique personality – exercise thinking and writing… a lot!

  9. Be bright and sharp
  10. In order to understand how to write a brilliant essay, try reading some great stories and see what makes them impressive. If you want to mention characters in your essay, make sure to use their names or invent names. This will give character to your writing, making it sound more personal. Think of an important moment that will give the essay that “wow-effect”.

  11. Pay attention to the mechanics of writing
  12. Writing a great essay goes beyond having an idea and putting it into words. You have to be accurate and think about proper punctuation and proofreading, but you also need to think about the accuracy of the facts you provide. If you are writing about Tolstoy, saying that he wrote the Brothers Karamazov would be an unforgivable mistake.

  13. Careful with the humor!
  14. The right dosage of humor is always appreciated, but don’t go overboard with it. You don’t know how the person who will be evaluating your essay will respond to your humor – they may think it’s brilliant, but they may also think it’s tasteless. Use humor only if you think the topic needs it.

  15. Make the committee members like you!
  16. The college you want to get into is a community, so the committee wants to accept students that will fit in that environment and make contributions with their unique personalities. When you’re writing the essay, you want to make the admission officers want you in their community.

  17. Show that you are smart
  18. You don’t want to be pretentious and brag about how intelligent you are, but you still want to use your intellectual vitality and show that you will be a valuable student in that college.

  19. Show some controversy
You don’t want to write some banal, dull essay that doesn’t stand out. If you have your standings about some serious topics that concerns religion or politics, it is okay to be controversial if you can present your ideas in a thoughtful and balanced way (without offending anyone). Don’t try to tackle a sensitive subject just because you want to sound controversial; you need to support your standings with real arguments, facts, and reasons. College is a place where ideas are discussed, and the admission officers will definitely appreciate your ability to take a stand on something.


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