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Sample College Application Essays

1. Get to know your prompt

❶These pieces rarely showcase who you are as an applicant.

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What Excellent College Essays Have in Common
Telling Your Story to Colleges
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Be honest and genuine, and your unique qualities will shine through. Admissions officers have to read an unbelievable number of college essays, most of which are forgettable.

Many students try to sound smart rather than sounding like themselves. Others write about a subject that they don't care about, but that they think will impress admissions officers. You don't need to have started your own business or have spent the summer hiking the Appalachian Trail. Colleges are simply looking for thoughtful, motivated students who will add something to the first-year class. It could be an experience, a person, a book—anything that has had an impact on your life.

Anyone can write about how they won the big game or the summer they spent in Rome. When recalling these events, you need to give more than the play-by-play or itinerary. Describe what you learned from the experience and how it changed you.

A student who can make an admissions officer laugh never gets lost in the shuffle. What you think is funny and what an adult working in a college thinks is funny are probably different. We caution against one-liners, limericks and anything off—color.

Set it aside for a few days and read it again. Put yourself in the shoes of an admissions officer: Is the essay interesting? Do the ideas flow logically? Does it reveal something about the applicant? What you write in your application essay or personal statement should not contradict any other part of your application—nor should it repeat it.

This isn't the place to list your awards or discuss your grades or test scores. A teacher or college counselor is your best resource.

And before you send it off, check, check again, and then triple check to make sure your essay is free of spelling or grammar errors. The college application essay is your chance to share your personality, goals, influences, challenges, triumphs, life experiences, or lessons learned. Not to mention why you're a good fit for the college or university—and why it's a good fit for you.

These are the stories behind the list of activities and leadership roles on your application. Instead, pick one moment in time and focus on telling the story behind it. One way to do that is to work step-by-step, piece-by-piece.

The end result should be a carefully designed, insightful essay that makes you proud. Take advantage of being able to share something with an audience who knows nothing about you and is excited to learn what you have to offer. Write the story no one else can tell. Ease yourself into the essay-writing process.

Take time to understand the question or prompt being asked. The single most important part of your essay preparation may be simply making sure you truly understand the question or essay prompt. When you are finished writing, you need to make sure that your essay still adheres to the prompt. College essay questions often suggest one or two main ideas or topics of focus. These can vary from personal to trivial, but all seek to challenge you and spark your creativity and insight.

Get your creative juices flowing by brainstorming all the possible ideas you can think of to address your college essay question. Believe it or not, the brainstorming stage may be more tedious than writing the actual application essay. The purpose is to flesh out all of your possible ideas so when you begin writing, you know and understand where you are going with the topic. Architects use a blue print.

A webpage is comprised of code. Cooks rely on recipes. What do they have in common? They have a plan. The rules for writing a good essay are no different.

Create an outline that breaks down the essay into sections. By now you know exactly what you will write about and how you want to tell the story. So hop on a computer and get to it.

Try to just let yourself bang out a rough draft without going back to change anything. Then go back and revise, revise, revise. Before you know it, you will have told the story you outlined—and reached the necessary word count—and you will be happy you spent all that time preparing! You have worked so hard up until this point, and while you might be relieved, remember: A single grammatical error or typo could indicate carelessness—not a trait you want to convey to a college admission officer.

Writing the college essay takes time and effort, and you should feel accomplished. When you submit your essay, remember to include your name, contact information, and ID number if your college provided one, especially if you send it to a general admission e-mail account. Nothing is worse than trying to match an application essay with no name or, worse, an e-mail address such as donutsarelife domain. Make sure to keep copies of what you sent to which schools and when—and follow up on them! Be certain the college or university you are applying to received your essay.

Looking for more college application essay help? We have tons— tons— here , including lots of real-world examples! What did you end up writing your college application essay about? Leave a comment or get in touch here. Get to know your prompt Ease yourself into the essay-writing process.

A Strong College Application essay Will make you stand out from the crowd.

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Developing A Thesis You'll want to know very soon whether the lawyer believes the accused to be guilty or not guilty, and how the lawyer plans to convince you. Readers of academic essays are like jury members: before they have read too far, they want to know what the essay argues as well as how the writer plans to make the argument.

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Crafting an Unforgettable College Essay. Most selective colleges require you to submit an essay or personal statement as part of your application. It may sound like a chore, and it will certainly take a substantial amount of work. But it's also a unique opportunity that can make a difference at decision time.

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Links to Full College Essay Examples. Some colleges publish a selection of their favorite accepted college essays that worked, and I've put together a selection of over of these (plus some essay . Your college application essay gives you a chance to show admission officers who you really are beyond grades and test scores. Learn about crafting an effective essay.

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