The College Essay Essentials That You Need To Get Into Your Dream School

The college application process can add more work to the already stressful schedule of a high school student. Here are some tips for creating a successful essay.

1. No Silly Mistakes

This may seem obvious, but grammatical errors and misspellings can set your essay below the other applications. This may make it seem like you rushed the essay or don’t care about that university’s application. If you need help, check out Grammarly to knock out small errors.

2. Write About Yourself 

No matter how hard it may be to talk about yourself, this is the time the time to brag. The people reading your essays don’t know who you are, it is your job to give them an inside look at your emotions and interests. If you write about volunteering, be sure to write about how it changed YOU not how you changed others.

3. Don’t Be a Thesaurus

If you try too hard to be something you’re not, it makes it hard for a university to see you as a student who belongs there and not someone who just found a thesaurus and decided to sound “academic.” The goal is to be relatable and personable, not a robot.

4. Don’t Be Basic

There are thousands of applicants, studies show that over 13.4 million people will attend a 4-year university in fall of 2017. In order to be seen as a competitive applicant, your essay needs to set you apart from the masses. Don’t talk about the meaning of life or a mission trip.

Talk about something in your life and why you deserve the spot because of your unique perspective.

5. Have One Topic

It may be overwhelming when you first start thinking about everything that you have done in your life, but mapping it out helps. Having all of the ideas written out and connected can help one topic come out on top. Writing out a pros and cons list can also be helpful in determining which topic you should choose. A good source for more information about mind maps is this Kent State article.

6. Be Genuine

The schools want to know you as an individual. There is no need to lie or downplay anything that you are interested in. Readers want to see genuine enthusiasm and pride in the essay. Stay true to yourself and be confident in your story.

7. Set a Deadline

Although it may seem like the October and December deadlines are worlds away, there should be specific goals for the essay. Set a date for the first draft, the second draft, and a final essay done before the due date. Setting those specific dates and putting them on a calendar can help save the stress from the first semester.

Even though the college application process can be stressful, there are always small things that can be done to help organize the process. Confidence in yourself and your work is the first step to a successful essay, good luck!

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Dominique Maderal
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Dominique Maderal is from Arlington, VA currently studying engineering at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She works with survivors of sexual assault and is a facilitator in high schools about the topic. Follow her on social media at dom_madz.

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