Even small colleges may read hundreds, if not thousands of applications essays per year. As the size and reputation of the college grows, so do the number of applicants that you must stand out from if you want a spot at that university. While borrowing ideas from websites that do my essay or putting a unique spin on a tried-and-true answer are the easiest ways to submit an application to college, these strategies will not always get you noticed. Instead, implement some of these strategies in your writing.
#1: Choose the Best ‘Slice’ of Your Story
Imagine that your entire life is a pie. One of the biggest mistakes that prospective college students make is trying to fit that entire pie into their application paper, while they should be trying to fit a single slice. Choose one of the parts of your life that represents you in a unique way or showcases a positive trait.
The best way to get an accurate representation of your slice is to write the narrative before you look at the prompts. Know how you want to represent yourself. Then, choose the best way to trim the narrative to fit the prompt. You’ll be left with a core message that best represents you.
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#2: Don’t Choose a “Run-of-the-Mill” Essay
Colleges do not want all their students to be the same. In fact, it is the students who stand out with either strong personality traits or a unique skillset that go above and beyond and help their university stand out. If you find yourself trying to choose your topic based on what you think the admissions board ‘wants’ to hear, you are doing it wrong. Instead, choose something you are passionate about and tell them what separates you from the hundreds or thousands of other essays they are reading.
#3: Know What You Want to Say and Then Make a Point
Choosing a topic for your college application essay is the looming first step that keeps many students procrastinating until the deadline is close. Instead, start by knowing what you want to say. Most colleges have a long list of prompts for applications, simply because all students are unique in their experiences and abilities. Know what you want to say about yourself and then change it enough to fit the prompt.
If you are having trouble doing this, try asking yourself some questions. Answer these essay style, as if you were explaining them to someone who doesn’t know you. Here are some things you may want to consider in light of the most common essay topics for college admissions:
- What do other people say is my greatest ability or trait?
- If you had a real-life ‘super power’, what would people say it is? (for example, making small talk with anyone or always finding a solution during conflict)
- What was the best day of your life?
- What makes you similar and different from siblings, parents, friends, and other important people in your life?
- What are your weaknesses? How do you either accept or work around them?
- What is your most prideful accomplishment?
- What role do you play at home? At work? In your friend group?
Asking questions like these will get your mind focused on the types of topics you will encounter through the course of writing admissions papers. Use your answers as a ‘cheat sheet’ to help you come up with topics.
#4: Pay Attention to Your Own Engagement
Imagine that you were sitting in front of a stack of hundreds of papers. Would you be thrilled to read through each of them if they used boring language and all covered similar topics? You want to make your writing stand out by being aware of your audience and their reaction as you write. If it isn’t interesting and engaging to write, then it won’t be entertaining to read. Write in a way that makes you feel alive and passionate about your topic—otherwise your message won’t be strong enough to come through.
#5: Ignore the Word Count (But Use it Carefully)
As you are deciding which slice of yourself that you want to share with the admissions board and deciding how to address your prompt, leave the word count out of it. While it is recommended that you consider the word count wisely, putting extra pressure on yourself will cause you to edit your topic down prematurely. You may not capture the true essence of what you are trying to say to your audience. This it is the reason that it is so beneficial to think about what you want to say before you consider the length of the admissions essay.
Even though you want to ignore the word count initially, you will need to consider it once you know what you are trying to say. Most have a maximum word count to prevent students from going over the top. However, you should be within a few hundred words of the max. For example, you may want to write a 500-600-word paper if the guidelines recommend up to 650 words. The exception is if you are confident you can express yourself and your ideas with less.
For some students, their admissions essay for college will be the one tool that they have to make themselves stand out among other qualified candidates. By feeling confident in what you are writing about and explaining yourself in the most unique way possible, you can make yourself stand out. Then, all that is left is the proofreading stage or sending it to a website like ewritingservice.com to do the proofreading for you.