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A Few Tips for How to Write an Admissions Essay

The essay is the most important part of a college admissions application. Here are some basic tips for you as you start working on this part of the application package.
By GPA Admin

A Few Tips for How to Write an Admissions Essay

Through the essay section, the admissions department at any university in the United States will learn more about your personality, thought process, character and what you will bring to the university.

You may have amazing test scores and grades, but if you cannot write a stellar essay showing the admissions committee that you fit into the scope of their student body and their vision for the school, your admission into the university may be in jeopardy.

By following a few simple guidelines, you can produce a strong and competitive essay.

Stay within the word count limit.

It is generally suggested to stay within the word limit for each college admission essay. If the question asks you to write no longer than 500 words, it is better to follow that guideline. However, the key to a great essay is a compelling story that attracts the admission officer's attention, which makes him like you and want to admit you. In some instances where cutting down on word count significantly undermines the message conveyed through the essay, it might be worth the risk to ignore the word restriction. The bottom line is that admission officers are not obliged to read beyond the word limit so please make sure that the story you tell in the essay would be interesting enough for them to continue reading on if you plan to go over the word limit.

Stick to one topic

Once you choose your topic, do not stray from the point. Pick one story/person of importance etc. and stay with that. Write in a clear and concise manner and highlight one or two accomplishments and personality traits brought about by the event or person which you would like to highlight. One of the bigger mistakes that students make is trying to cover too much in one essay. Other sections of the application allow you to list accomplishments and activities. While 500 words can cover a lot, it is nearly impossible to write a strong essay containing your life story while still getting the point of the original topic across.

Keep in mind the three question types

Collegeboard.com points out that any essay question will fit into one of three different categories – the “You” question, the “Why Us” question, and the “Creative” Question. With all three types, you will need to stay focused to write a thoughtful and winning response. The “you” question is generally broad and open ended. You will need to be sure to stick to one or two traits as mentioned above in order to excel at this type of question. Don’t downplay your accomplishments, but do not brag either. You will need to find the fine humble line between each of the extremes to give the committee the best picture of your character.

The “Why Us” question allows you to explain what you can do for the university and what your goals and plans are.  Avoid being overly vague about why you chose that particular university and be sure you have the facts right.

The “Creative” question usually gives the applicant a chance to write about something they are interested in or feel strongly about. The question can ask about an influential person or book, a national or international event, or an event that occurred in your life.  The trick to a strong answer is again staying focused and fitting the question to you. You need to show your personality and any personal growth or influence such as how you, yourself are inspired by someone famous or influential. 

Pre-write, Draft, and Edit

An admissions essay isn’t something that you can write in one sitting and submit. Since a key part of the application process and increases your likelihood of acceptance, you will need to actually take time to write your essay. Pre-write. Sit and think about the question. Brainstorm topics and think about your strengths and how those can be woven into the question. Write your draft. Organize your thoughts from pre-writing into a coherent draft. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Set the draft aside and come back to it. Read through your essay and edit as needed. Pay attention to details. Make sure that you are avoiding wordiness, vague language, clichés, flowery descriptive language and weak verbs. Check your grammar. It is important to show that you have good English ability.

By keeping in mind these tips and the writing process, you should be able to produce a strong essay or set of essays for your college applications.

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