College admissions essays: every college-bound senior’s mortal enemy. Or are they? Staring at a blank screen is intimidating enough to make your knees wobble! But, the CAA Coaches want you to know that your essay is more friend than foe. No other part of your application gives you more freedom to show off. Stick to these simple tips and you’ll shine!
1. Start Early
There is a zero percent chance you will sit down and whisk out the perfect essay on the first try. Good writing requires editing, which takes time. Start your essays a couple of months before the application deadline whenever possible. The earlier you start, the more time you have to write a stellar essay.
2. Don’t Be Afraid of Bad Writing
No writer – not even Shakespeare or Hemingway – started out writing perfect prose. Don’t worry about making your first draft perfect, just get your main ideas out of your head and onto the page.
3. Read the Prompt
Many students tie themselves in knots wondering, “What do these people want from me?!” Well, lucky you, most colleges will actually tell you! Make sure you read the prompt carefully and then actually answer it! In fact, many colleges offer essay advice on their website explaining exactly what they are looking for.
4. Know Your Audience
Every college has a mission and it is important that you explain how you fit into that mission. Know what the school cares about! Is it involvement? Research? Finding a creative way to tie your story to their mission is a great way to earn high marks in this area of your application.
5. Get Help
After the first draft, ask for a second opinion. You know what you’re trying to say, but will others? Read your essay aloud to someone else or just have them read it. This allows you to know what leaves others scratching their heads. CAA Coaches, English teachers, and parents can help you with this. Just ask!
6. You Are Not a Textbook
And it’s best to not write like one. Admissions officers can read between the lines and know when students are exaggerating their story. Essay readers are looking for the real you. This is your chance to let them hear your unique voice, so don’t waste it trying to sound like someone else!
7. Tell Your Story
Admissions officers read A LOT of essays, and you don’t want to get lost in the crowd. What do you have that no other applicant does? Your story. The best way to make yourself stand out in the reader’s mind is to tell them an engaging story: yours.