Key tip: Students should not worry about what the admissions committee will like the most. Instead students should figure out what they like writing about, as this will naturally allow them to go into more detail and depth. This will also help the essay to become more memorable, which is beneficial in the admissions process. Some students are good at free writing.
They can try drafting paragraphs for each topic and see which one they enjoy writing about the most. The best essays can be about something seemingly insignificant but show well the character of the student. Jodi: The Common App does have a minimum word count of and a maximum word count of Most other applications will have a minimum and maximum word count as well.
You do need to pay attention to the word count in your final submission, as online applications will cut you off if you try to go over. Jodi : Admissions counselors will see the same narratives over and over. Your goal is to stand out and make them remember you. With that said, try to avoid common topics like winning the big game. Sensitive subjects like personal experience with abuse, poverty, or war should be written about based on your own discretion and comfort level.
Key tip: Make sure that the topic addresses the question! Jodi: Students should write about whatever is going to be the most interesting, fun, and meaningful subject for them to share with another person. If students are trying to decide on a particular subject, they can sit down with a teacher, friend, sibling, or guidance counselor, talk about different ideas, and receive feedback on which one sounds the most interesting to the listener.
I counseled a student who works with both young children and the elderly — a rare activity for high school students. She wrote an essay comparing the two and reflecting on her own journey from youth into adulthood. It made for a great narrative, and she only decided on it because we had a long discussion about her ideas for different essays, and that one sounded really intriguing to me.
I had a student who needed to write about overcoming an obstacle, and she wrote all about her feet.
But dance had helped her manage her anxiety, and therefore overcome some obstacles to improve her mental health. So she wrote about how she accepted her ugly feet because of what they had given her in return. This was a unique spin. Who writes a college essay about feet?
But this one worked well — the student answered the question and shared a lot about herself and her character. The key to convincing the admissions officers is in understanding what they are looking for. They want students who will:. In your college admissions essay, you want to portray yourself as a student who will meet those needs. Before you write your college admissions essay, take a few minutes and jot down some answers to the following questions:.
Along with the three questions above, you should contemplate how you want the admissions officers to perceive you. After reading your college admissions essay, what should they think of your personality and activities?
Most students want the college admissions board to view them as responsible, dependable, and academically ambitious. These are excellent essay goals, but you should also consider the essay in relation to your classwork. If your classwork already shows that you are studious and determined because you have taken a wide variety of advanced classes , then you may want to highlight another feature of your personality.
Along with developing an image of your character, writing the college admissions essay allows you to feature other aspects of your life that are not reflected in your pre-college coursework. Some aspects to consider:. This bit of strategic thinking should be fairly easy.
You can see how we break down the same example prompt below:. The application gives the admissions officer facts about you, but the college admissions essay tells him or her who you really are. In some cases, you have only one choice. I want to sound professional and to get hired. Teach or Tutor for Us.
As an international student, you by definition are different from the bulk of American citizens who apply to American universities. Remember that you are more than just an international student from an interesting background; you are a complete person with a lifetime of experiences. You should take some time to think about what else makes you different from most the other hundreds of students writing college admissions essays. Add those features plays piano, excellent at football, speak five languages to your growing list of essay goals. Remember that one of the goals of the admissions board when reading college admissions essays is to find students who will enhance the educational experience of other students.
As with tip 3, you already have an edge by being an international student. As an international student, you offer other students an opportunity for cultural diversity. As with Tip 3, it is not enough to assume the college admissions board will recognize this benefit. You need to highlight it in your essay. Again, a sentence or two should be enough to accomplish this goal. Again, remember that you are more than just an international student.
You have so much more to contribute to the campus social and learning environment than just your home culture. Take a few moments to consider what else you may contribute. Now you need to focus your goals to only three or four ideas — the ones that will make you the most attractive to the college admissions board. No matter what the prompt asks, you want to ensure you include those three or four ideas in your college admissions essay. The concept is to present a few ideas very well, rather than list all your ideas poorly.
A narrowly focused essay will be much more effective than a general, vague one. You should take the time to read and re-read the essay prompt, so you can answer it fully. However, you must demonstrate that you can read and follow directions. Think of that great pile of applications. The admissions officers are looking for a reason to disregard candidates. On the other hand, the prompt is designed to give you some freedom for creativity, which will allow you to work in those three or four key ideas that you have developed through tips 1 through 4.
You are encouraged to find novel ways of answering the prompt, so long as you do indeed answer the questions provided. If you need more help choosing a topic , you can find some tips on our Choosing a Topic for Your College Essay page. At this stage in the college admissions essay writing process, you have considered the goals and psychology of the college admissions board. Now it is time to actually write the essay.
The key to excellent and memorable writing is to write in fine detail. The more specific your essay, the stronger an impression it will make on the admissions board. Despite having a degree fever and being required to stay in bed, I still completed my draft speech on the possible impacts of global warming on agriculture. The admissions officers are expecting you to celebrate yourself, to underline your strengths and personality, so they can make a quick, accurate judgment about you. Diction word choice is the fundamental structure of writing. Your word choice reveals a great deal about your personality, education and intellect.
Furthermore, as an international student, you want to reassure the college admissions board that you have an excellent command of the English language remember: they want you to succeed; they need to know that you can actively participate in English-only instruction. With this in mind, you should replace lower-level words bad, sad, thing, nice, chance with higher-level words appalling, despondent, phenomena, comforting, opportunity.
You should also remove any slang or casual diction; the university is not interested in casual language in their admissions essays.