Wondering how to write a college admissions essay, interview for college, or write about your extracurricular activities on your application?

May 19, 2018 by

Wondering how to write a college admissions essay, interview for college, or write about your extracurricular activities on your application? Read our fundamental advice below.

Part 1

1. Your college essay needs to be about you.

Sounds simple, right? You’d be surprised at how many students introduce their college essay with a noteworthy situation but then forget to explain how it has affected their perspective and growth. Everything you write about needs to relate back to you.

When you feature a conflict in your essay, it should play a role in your growth. Don’t write about the conflict at length and then forget to write about your relation to it. You may have outstanding grades and an incredible transcript, but your essay needs to be about your personality, lessons learned, and personal themes.

2. Speaking of which, almost all college essays feature a conflict.

The conflict can be internal or external, short- or long-term, and be about any number of topics. You have choices. Just remember to feature a conflict. Conflict raises the stakes and makes the essay interesting. Think of your favorite books, movies, and television shows — they all feature conflict.

Don’t feel insecure if the conflict isn’t something life-changing or objectively significant; an effective essay takes conflict of any measure and demonstrates its relation to your growth.

3. You need to brainstorm. This is the oft-forgotten art of writing.

For a number of reasons, students think they don’t need to heavily brainstorm. In our experience, the best essays begin at the brainstorming stage.

Why? During the college applications, a thousand thoughts will race through your mind every day.

You’ll be anxious and fearful. Brainstorming slows down your thinking and puts options in front of you. This is the best way to reduce fear and distill your thinking. Ask yourself questions about your values and the overarching themes you see them playing in your own life.

4. The admissions essay is the “tip” factor for college applications.

There are thousands of students all over the country who share similar experiences and come from the same kinds of neighborhoods as you. Students with similar grades and academic profiles are going to compete for spots at the same universities.

If your grades, AP scores, SAT/ACT scores, and extracurricular activities look the same, the essay is your last, and best, chance to differentiate yourself. Start as early as possible, and take your time. This is especially important if you’re applying to a top university – your essay needs to be spectacular.

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