College Essay Writing Tips
The college admission essay is one of the toughest parts of college application—simply because it doesn’t exactly underline the things that you should do. Essay writing in itself is a hard task; couple it with the fact that this essay could break or make your collegiate career makes it worse. And unfortunately, you can’t submit a video or perform a flashy dance number in lieu of a college essay, ala Elle Brooks in Legally Blonde. The fact that it seems like you’re stuck on paper makes college essay writing hard.
However, that’s also the easiest thing about the college essay—it is just like any other form of writing. It requires you to have cohesive content, solid form, and commendable tone. College essay writing requires you to rewrite, edit, and polish your work. Of course, the real problem here is that students spent most of their time not writing anything. Needless to say, when the need for their college admission essay comes, they tend to be paralyzed with fear because of the pressure.
Again, college essay writing doesn’t need to be difficult. Here are some college essay writing tips to turn your drab piece of work into a sterling piece of literature.
College essay writing tips
Your college admission essay has to be tackle one of the topics as stated by the Common Application (which is followed by more than 300 colleges and universities nationwide). Although the topics are hardly similar, they all ask for the same things. For one, the college essay should have good writing. It should also describe who you are, your sensibilities, and your skills in analysis and description. However, more often than not, the college admission essay also asks for more than what the topics says.
For instance, one of the college essay options requires you to describe a person or fiction character that has influenced you. While the option says “describe,” what you actually need to do is analyze; describing that person would make your essay look like a term paper.
In any of the topics, it is best to consider your answer and ask: how would it stand out? This doesn’t mean you should lie in order to make your college admission essay be different. The key here is to find a topic option and an angle that can emphasize this. Remember that these college evaluators will be reading thousands and thousands of these essays. For the topic stated above, they’d read essays describing” how Mozart, Einstein, Jane Austen, or some famous American president influenced them. Imagine how tiring this can be. No matter how brilliantly you wrote your essay based on this person of influence, you are already at a disadvantage since you said basically the same thing most of the applicants said.
The common writing rule applies here: write what you know. In addition, don’t try to write about what you don’t know. Don’t write a college essay on how David Forster Wallace influenced you when he really didn’t. No matter how hard you try, it’ll show. Again, it’s all about the angle.
Minding the writing language
There is no actual specified format for the college admission essay. However, there are at least four elements of the college essay you should work hard to polish: the title, the tone and the topic, and the actual writing.
The title, being the shortest part of the essay, seems to be the easiest. However, a lot is riding on this part of your essay because it has to grab the reader’s attention, as well as describe, in a way, what the essay is all about. Provide a hackneyed title for your college essay and your essay probably wouldn’t even be read.
The tone, so to speak, is the attitude of your essay. In turn, the tone of your college admission essay is your attitude. Therefore, it has to somehow reflect who you are. As clichéd as it may sound, the evaluators can consider you if they see something worthy in terms of your attitude based on your essay. Of course, more than that, the tone of your essay should also be balanced. While humor and character are appreciated (and quite described) in college essays, you also need to elaborate on your essay topic and answer the essay option. To do this, you need more than just attitude. You need substance, but also need character to balance out what could be heavy in your writing.
The topic and the writing of the essay go hand in hand. Choose a topic you can elaborate on and choose a topic you know to enable you to write a brilliant essay. When considered with the tone of your college essay, a college admission essay with a common topic and answer can be made brilliant by your tone. Perhaps Einstein really influenced you, for instance. Still, your tone can make the usual answer into something incredibly different. Of course, the only way to do that is for the writing to be solid as well. Attitude is nothing without the goods; and in this case, your goods is your writing language and your writing’s quality.
A good college admission essay reveals about yourself—your character, your motivations, and sometimes even your achievements (try not to elaborate on this, though, as the college essay is not the proper venue for bragging). However, you can only do this by being specific. When writing about the person who influenced, do not describe his or her qualities. Instead, cite a particular instance that made the person influence. Or perhaps there was a particular moment in your life where the person’s actions or ideals made the difference? Elaborate and analyze; do not describe and meander on the general. It requires reiteration: the college admission essay is not a school term paper.
Mechanics and the technical points of writing should be considered as well. Grammar, sentence construction, punctuation, spelling—these elements do matter, since they reflect your intellect and your writing ability. Colleges will not accept applicants who wrote essays that even grace school students can write.