ADVANCED COMPOSITION Considerations for Writing your College Essays
What the Admission Committees Look For A student with potential for growth. An individual who will contribute to the quality of life for other students. A personality that will fit in on their campus. Individuals who are sincere and are themselves. They can spot a fake a mile away.
Colleges Use Different Essay Topics Some colleges have 1 or 2 prescribed topics to write about. Others allow you to choose among topics. (Common Application: choose 1 of 4) Still others have several categories in which you must respond.
Sample College Essay Questions 1. Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you. 2. Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you. 3. Discuss an issue of personal, local, national or international concern & its importance to you. 4. Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you and describe that influence. 5. Topic of your choice.
Types of Questions The YOU Question The WHY Question The Significant Experience Question The Creative Question
The YOU Question Essays about Personal Relationships and Influences 1. Your favorite teacher 2. Your coach 3. Distant relatives 4. A neighbor 5. Pen pals (or cyber friends) 6. Member of a friends family Do NOT write about your dog Spot or your cat Fluffy! No Pet essays!
The Why Question Essays about your own personal qualities: Those little habits of yours that sometimes annoy those around you. That time you really put your foot in your mouth. A personal possession to which you have grown irrationally attached. Particular study habits that you would like to change. Your unusual awkwardness in certain social situations. Look inward at your quirky, seemingly less attractive, or downright negative traits to highlight your positives!
The Significant Experience Question A seemingly ordinary school field trip or outing with friends or family that turned into an unexpected adventure or self-defining event A song, poem, novel, or other serious literary or artistic work that made a genuine and deep impact on the way you look at yourself, others, the world around you, and life in general. The time you received an unexpected gift from an unexpected source, or the time you spontaneously gave of yourself to someone or something. A white lie, an off-the-cuff insulting remark, or a discourtesy that helped you to grow and mature in your understanding of your self and others.
The Creative Question Describe a character in fiction Describe a historical figure A creative work (art, music, science) that has had an influence on YOU and explain that influence You pick a topic!
Topics to Help You Start Write about a time when you: have been inspired. had fun. were intellectually connected in class. felt exceptionally alive. lost your sense of time because you were so engrossed in learning something.
Other Thoughts to Consider Write about things that interest you or about experiences you have had. If you write about an important event make sure it is genuine and not a story others have told you. Include things not already in your application or resume. Write a snapshot of your life not your whole life story. A personal statement can explain your academic record if it is not strong.
Essay Blueprint: Do This! Find a topic Write a draft Revise and rewrite Get feedback Final editing
A Good Essay is .. Description Not good because of the topic but because of the voice. Show vs. Tell: a good essay shows by using all of the senses, not just the visual and notices everything that is happening. Topic: Death in the family (opening statement): Poor example: From an early age we accept death as inevitable but do not comprehend its actual denotation. Good example: The coughing came first then the hacking in the middle of the night.
Work on these points Make your essays personal but stay within the guidelines. Length: most colleges set limits. Dont over write as admission counselors will not appreciate it - Make every word count. Write an attention-getting lead; say something brief, direct and intriguing but not scary. Word Choice: weigh each word and substitute more colorful ones that an 18 year old would use. Tone: read your essay out loud. Does it sound passionate, humorous or reflective?
Revising Can the reader connect with how you are thinking or feeling? Watch out for vague language or inappropriate word choice i. e use of the word stuff or like, whatever. Do not use IM language or shortcuts. Proofread not just spell check I am interested in attending your homely campus. Watch out for over use of the pronoun I.
Check Your Essay Grammar Spelling Punctuation Correct usage of words and phrases
Finally.. Proofread and have someone else proofread. Often more is less so dont go on and on Be creative and confident; if you dont believe in yourself no one else will. Dont let your parent write your essay; they can tell if a 59 year old wrote it or if you wrote it at 11:59 pm.
Relax! You do not have to prove anything. Dont try to solve lifes mysteries. Dont attempt to save the world in your future. They realize you are 18 and assume you are bright and motivated.
Questions an admissions counselor will consider after reading your essay What did I learn about you? What do I remember about you? Do I have confidence in your writing? Do I have any concerns about you? Did you come across as thoughtful or interesting? Take time to create a winning essay!