Your college essay is not a resume, you have already written one of those. It is a story about something that matters to you and how it impacts your life.
ONE// To have a good essay, you don't have to write about the most exciting or the most tragic thing that has ever happened to you. While some people do have super exciting things that have happened to them, don't stress if you have nothing. Some of the best essays are the weird ones. Did you scoop ice cream all summer and learn that some are harder to scoop than others? Did you once wear two different shoes to school? Did you once sleep all day and didn't move? Did you work at an ice cream shop all summer and learn that chocolate ice cream is the hardest to scoop? If so, write about them! These interesting stories will stick with admissions officers so they can tell you apart from all the other candidates.
TWO// Brag, but not too much. I hate to promote myself and I hate to tell about my accomplishments to others because I often feel as though I am bragging or being too forward. Others love to tell people about themselves and how they are the best people in the world. Bragging is good, but in moderation. A few points here and there are perfect, but if your whole essay is just an explanation as to why any college would be lucky to have you, then you may need to rework somethings.
THREE// Focus on the characters. Think about it as a movie. Good movies are exciting not just because the premise is cool but because the characters totally rock. You should obviously be the main character in your story because it is from your point of view. Don't downplay your role in the story because it is not about the premise of the story that matters, it is all about your growth and what you have learned. It is not about the action that took place (see number two) but about how that action has affected you. Have a strong voice in your writing because readers want to be able to get inside your head a bit and know more about you.
FOUR// Proof-reading is super important and something that I often forget to do. When you write your essay, you want the person reading it to be completely engulfed in what you have written. When do don't fix typos it is like putting a big blinking red light right in the middle of your paper. It is not that the reader can't read or understand your essay, it's that you are ruining the experience. Typos can often be distracting. This is also true for grammatical errors and weird wordings of sentences. Check for these things by reading your essay out loud. If you find that you have to stop to reread a certain section, you may need to fix it.
FIVE// Understand who is reading your paper. Getting a 5 year old to read a college level research paper and understand it will be an impossible task. There are too many things that they will not understand. Don't write about something so specific that your reader cannot relate too. If, while writing it, you have to take extra care in what you are saying, then maybe you should pick a different topic. It is better to pick a topic that is easy to relate to rather than to convey the message that you don't know how to properly write to the audience that is going to be reading it.
Your essay should be about you and how you have changed based on an event. Don't make it preachy, make it fun and inviting. A good essay will help you to stand out from all the others!
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