While most students spend days, and sometimes weeks, improving their personal statements, admissions officers spend from three to five minutes reading them. High school seniors are faced with the challenge of summarizing the last 17 years into 650 words, all while showcasing their “unique” personality against thousands of other candidates. Parents and students often ask us for our most valuable Common Application essay tips, so we have compiled a list of simple, effective tricks to use as guidelines while you navigate the tricky waters of college essay writing. Try to use them for good and not for evil.
When writing an essay “General statement”, too many students feel obliged to squeeze their entire life story into 650 words. This, friends, is impossible. At first, it is almost always better to think small. Find a story or event in your life that really matters to you. Did you win the competition at the last second? Has your family been on vacation without food for five days? Have you recently read something that blew your mind? Now ask yourself, are any of these stories representatives of my most important and valuable qualities? An ideal essay topic demonstrates your personality, hobbies, and/or ambitions without trying to do too much at once. A story about how your family adopted a three-legged dog, and how your pet’s perseverance and resourcefulness influenced how you lead your life, will give a better essay than a super-general explanation, for example, why you like dogs. If you get lost while writing, ask: what am I trying to say about myself and am I using a concrete, convincing example to tell my story
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2. Write first, edit later
When it comes to writing, we are almost always our worst critics. So many students want and expect them to produce a clean, loose sheen the first time their fingers touch the keys, but it almost never helps a good essay. Writing a compelling essay is a process, and the best of what we can write can often be extracted from our efforts in the field of consciousness flow. Do not edit yourself until you allow your creativity to warm up and pour on the page. Never judge your letter until you have written a few paragraphs. You can always cut back on what’s not working, and it’s much easier to work with an overabundance of words and ideas than nothing at all.
3. Kill these cliches
We won’t fight around the bush: cliches really get our goats. When you go on a journey along the memory lane, telling us about the time when you were the engine and the shaker, raising your nose to the millstone, it makes our blood boil. We have content and grammar snobs, so we find cliches are particularly unattractive, but we are also confident enough in your work to know that you can do more. Readers of the introductory essay also know about this and expect that you will think outside the box, without using phrases such as “think outside the box”. So cross out these weary sentences from your essay and do it now. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. In fact, it hurts us to write this.
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4.Everything in detail
What is the difference between these two sentences? 1. My favorite activities were fishing and cooking every day. 2. My friends and I woke up early in the morning to catch bass on Lake Michigan, preparing our dishes from herbs collected on a local farm. In the first sentence, we understand that you liked certain events. Secondly, yes, we know that you love fishing, but we also understand your commitment to the work that you do every day and acknowledge that your fishing trips are a social effort. There is a sense of time and place – we can see the situation, smell the grass. With a few additional words, the second sentence will tell us much more about your fishing experience. Many students tend to distort the generic story of their personal stories. What makes an essay memorable is often the sum of the little things. If you can draw a clear picture for your reader by providing details, you are much more likely to leave a marker in their memories.
Imagine that you are an essay reader in a prestigious educational institution, and your task is to read dozens of essays a day, every day, for several weeks in a row. Ninety percent of the essays passing by your desk is terribly boring, and maybe ten percent break through the fluff and make you pay attention. As an applicant, you want your essay to shine brightly on the face of this bored reader. No matter what your subject, serious, sublime, sentimental, or informative, your essay should be aimed at entertainment. This will require many elements working together in harmony. You will need a compelling subject, a direct and powerful narrative, impeccable grammar, and a memorable style. A little laugh never hurts either. It is often difficult to understand whether an essay is really entertaining until the end of writing, but when you read overdrafts, the question should always be at heart: is it interesting to read this essay? Some students achieve entertaining value by being controversial. Others load their parts with comic relief. Some are able to describe events in such detail that the reader simply has to get to the end of the essay. No matter what tactics you end up using, your goal should be easy and convincing readability.
6. Introduce yourself
in order for your essay to be truly effective, the reader must summarize your subject in a simple sentence. You solve this problem by choosing a creative theme (or a creative twist on a general topic), and write about it with enough details to burn through the image of yourself in the reader’s brain. When it comes to you and another candidate with the same qualifications, you want the admissions officer to stand up with your statement in his / her hand and say: “I like the girl who performed the trapeze in the circus.” or “What about the girl who saved the grandfather’s life?” It will be much more difficult to recall “a girl who practiced trapeze and also rode well on bicycles, who received an A grade on each test and who usually worked very hard” or “a girl who really loved her late grandfather and who feels that she embodies many of its core characteristics. ” Focus your story. When you finish writing your first sketch, do branding testing – try tagging yourself based on your essay and see what you come up with. If you cannot easily narrow it down to a brief description, you probably need to modify or simplify your essay.
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