Entries tagged with “college application”.

When writing your essay, there are several tips to keep in mind that will make your essay stand out in terms of professional-level quality. Here are just a few:

•    Always avoid clichés. Some common examples include: “in order to,”  “the best things in life are free,” “jump at the chance,” “when it rains, it pours,” etc.
•    Always remember that outstanding writing is often “great ideas, simply expressed.” In other words, use larger, less common words sparingly, in favor of simply and elegantly detailing a brilliant concept, idea, or experience. Remember, you want the admissions committee to relate to you on a very personal level.
•    In general, avoid repeating information that is already on your application, especially test scores. The exception to this is when you focus on a specific activity or experience and elucidate, specifically illustrating how it has cultivated your character/commitment to excellence/etc.
•    In any admissions essay, always spell out all numbers between one and one hundred.
•    Avoid the “life is a journey” theme as it’s been done to death (notice any other clichés here?). This is not the same as using the term “journey” at some point in your essay, which may very well be used appropriately.
•    When in doubt, maintain a more formal tone over a lesser one. At the same time, write from your heart. Excellent writing reconciles the balance between the two.
•    Concision, concision, concision. Read your essay several, if not many, times over, constantly paring down. Although succinct writing is not always the overriding quality in a formal essay, it is one of your top priorities. Sometimes, however, a general sense of flow can override concision.
•    Avoid being melodramatic. Use exclamation points sparingly, if at all. At the same time, a little drama in your essay can be quite effective, if used appropriately.
•    Effective transitions are some of the most overlooked aspects of a solid essay. When revising your essay, notice how the sentences flow together, then the paragraphs, then the ideas, and then the overall theme. This can go a long way toward making your essay much more interesting and readable.

Author: David Hammon

An extremely important but often overlooked aspect of applying to college is the admissions essay. In myriad ways, the essay allows the admission committee to understand a side of you that your application simply cannot reveal, which is also a crucial opportunity to sell your candidacy. Keep in mind that most admissions committees spend one-third of the total portion of time of any application on the essay.

To put things in perspective, every year in the United States, over half a million applicants will submit essays to their choices of schools. At least half will be rejected by their top choice while approximately eleven percent will be admitted to the country’s top schools. Furthermore, acceptance rates are at an all-time low. Thus, distinguishing yourself necessitates more than a strong GPA or SAT score – it requires a lucid, dynamic, compelling, and outstanding application essay.

The essay allows the admissions committee to evaluate applicants on the basis of many factors beyond test scores and grade point averages. Those factors may include, but are not limited to: extracurricular activities, exceptional skills or talents, unique work or service experience, trends or improvement in academic performance, measurable leadership potential, a history of overcoming hardship or disadvantage, maturity, compassion, or demonstrated success in a challenging work environment. Feel free to describe any factors you wish the committee to evaluate when considering your application. As long as it has ultimately shaped your character toward excellence or helped you determine your path, it can be worth using.

As a crucial pivot point, a well-written essay can subtly, yet substantially, affect your entire application. For example, if your grade point average is slightly below where it needs to be, a solid explanation based on demonstrated examples can overcome such a dilemma. Still, in such a case, this is only effective when backed by an unusual and realistic explanation, such as a parent’s illness or divorce, a series of challenging events, a move to a new country, etc.

In terms of choosing which activities and experiences to include, you will want to select the ones that most closely reflect your vocational goals, or those that most closely intimate your determination to pursue those goals. In other words, if you are trying to decide between your experience riding horses or being on the debate team for three years, consider which of these most closely resonate with your specific goals. If you are leaning toward pre-veterinary classes, for example, you would most likely mention the latter; whereas if you are leaning toward law, mentioning the former would be more effective. Obviously, if you can mention both in a way that maintains a coherent narrative while demonstrating how these experiences have positively shaped you, certainly do so.

Ultimately, as much as possible, you want to create a dynamic, powerful statement that illustrates your driven intellectual capacity (through academics, awards, lessons, scholarships, independent research, etc.) as well as a genuine emotional depth, while ultimately displaying the most driven, intelligent, passionate, dynamic, interesting, etc. aspects of who you are.

Author: David Hammond