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10 Best Strategies for Writing a College Essay

The college essay is an integral part of the application process, providing applicants an opportunity to tell their unique narrative and reveal themselves to admissions officers. Students often get caught up in writing an “eye-catching” essay but focusing on being genuine and showing personality will yield better results. Here are 10 strategies for writing a college essay.

1. Select an intriguing topic. Your essay provides you with the chance to showcase yourself authentically; choose an engaging subject matter to make writing and reading it more pleasurable. Moreover, try not to tackle controversial subjects that could come off as too honest; for instance bringing up bipolar disorder or family financial woes can come across as unsettling to admissions officers, while an off-color joke that seems hilarious at the time may not translate well for readers of your essay.

2. Create Multiple Drafts.

Drafts can be an essential step in the application process and should be written multiple times prior to submission. This enables you to find ways of improving it so it becomes as polished and compelling as possible, while receiving feedback from friends, family members or guidance counselors about areas for improvement.

3. Think like an admissions officer.

College admissions officers seek students who will contribute positively to their school community, from academic achievement and leadership potential, passion and drive all the way down to academic performance and personal experience that have helped form who they are today. Writing essays should demonstrate these characteristics by sharing personal accounts that highlight them – perhaps sharing how certain events or journeys have helped shape one’s character or exploring any personal experiences which helped to forge them further.

4. Keep it Brief. Most colleges have specific word count requirements for essays, so be sure to double-check them prior to submitting your application. Reworking existing essays just so they meet these guidelines isn’t recommended and may take more time than necessary; instead, focus on writing an in-depth story of an event or moment that mattered – for instance if writing about your Outward Bound trip to Yosemite don’t try and tell everything that happened; rather concentrate on how and when you decided not to climb Half Dome; touch upon other parts as necessary.

5. Include multiple sentence structures. College essays should reflect their author’s voice, so it’s crucial that writers incorporate various sentence structures into the essay to ensure it sounds natural and conversational. Including various sentence structures will also reduce overuse of introductory phrases like “In the beginning, as we went along,” and “To conclude.” It is also wise to refrain from overly-used cliches like “amazing”, “wonderful” and “amazingly”, as these tend to sound generic and uncreative.

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