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A Favorite Essay Tip From a College Application Veteran

Telling Your Story to Colleges

❶You can always address word count and trim the details later.

A Favorite College Essay Tip

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Tips for a Stellar College Application Essay

Most selective colleges require you to submit an essay or personal statement as part of your application. It may sound like a chore, and it will certainly take a substantial amount of work. But it's also a unique opportunity that can make a difference at decision time. Admissions committees put the most weight on your high school grades and your test scores. However, selective colleges receive applications from many worthy students with similar scores and grades—too many to admit.

You have a unique background, interests and personality. This is your chance to tell your story or at least part of it. The best way to tell your story is to write a personal, thoughtful essay about something that has meaning for you.

Be honest and genuine, and your unique qualities will shine through. Admissions officers have to read an unbelievable number of college essays, most of which are forgettable. Many students try to sound smart rather than sounding like themselves.

Others write about a subject that they don't care about, but that they think will impress admissions officers. You don't need to have started your own business or have spent the summer hiking the Appalachian Trail. Colleges are simply looking for thoughtful, motivated students who will add something to the first-year class. Every applicant brings something unique to the admissions committee table. Perhaps one application stands out because of sparkling recommendations, while another presents outstanding extracurricular talent; maybe your personality shines through a powerful written voice, or maybe your keen mathematical mind packs more punch.

Our goal is to assemble a diverse, well-rounded student body, and that means admitting exceptional individuals of all types. You may find this answer unsatisfying, but we assure you that it is true: This section of our website aims to help you submit the very best application possible. We asked admissions officers to weigh in with their own thoughts on each topic and we have compiled their responses below. We know that the application process can be confusing, daunting, even overwhelming, and we hope this page proves helpful as you compile your applications, not only to Yale but to every school on your list.

When you write your essays and short answer responses, write about something that matters to you. Use your own voice. Do not worry about making a special effort to include impressive vocabulary words or overly complex sentences. If you sound like yourself and discuss something you care about, your essay will be more effective. Pick topics that will give us an idea of who you are. We have read wonderful essays on common topics and weak essays on highly unusual ones.

Your perspective — the lens through which you view your topic — is far more important than the specific topic itself. In the past, students have written about family situations, ethnicity or culture, school or community events to which they have had strong reactions, people who have influenced them, significant experiences, intellectual interests, personal aspirations, or — more generally — topics that spring from the life of the imagination.

Share your essays with at least one or two people who know you well — such as a parent, teacher, counselor, or friend — and ask for feedback. Remember that you ultimately have control over your essays, and your essays should retain your own voice, but others may be able to catch mistakes that you missed and help suggest areas to cut if you are over the word limit.

Does the topic come easily to you? The feeling you have as you write will be the feeling you give to your reader. Bored writers make for bored readers. Excited writers make for eager readers. Allow yourself at least two drafts to get your story out. Once you like your first draft, start to cut or add words. If the maximum count for the essay is words, but you have said all you need to say in words, you will either need to have supreme confidence in yourself as an amazing writer, or you are leaving money on the table and not sharing enough about yourself.

Choosing what to write about in the essay is important and it is doable. By Stephanie Klein Wassink August 3, Professors are notoriously hard graders. The school boasts 34 Nobel laureates among alumni and faculty. Recent grads tend to get high-paying jobs. With 1, undergraduates, Pomona features close student-faculty relationships. Clemson was founded as an agricultural college, and while agricultural science is still a specialty, more general programs such as business are more popular today.

Most every one at this rural campus is united by an enormous amount of school pride, especially around the football team.


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The tips below will help you win big with your essay. Also be sure to check out these tips for the seven personal essay options on the Common Application, this advice for improving your essay's style, and the sample essays.

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Get insightful tips on how to write an effective college application essay and set yourself apart from other applicants.

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Your essay can give admission officers a sense of who you are, as well as showcasing your writing skills. Try these tips to craft your college application essay. A Favorite Essay Tip From a College Application Veteran by j9robinson | Jul 6, I loved a recent post by my friend, Lynn O’Shaughessy, who is a fellow journalist and now the international guru for creative ways to pay for college.