Overall, the application essay is perhaps the most important part of your application. If you get it right, you can make a pivotal impression on evaluators. It also helps make up for any weaknesses or disadvantages that you, as an applicant, might have. Many CollegeBoard experts share this viewpoint. They believe that a college application essay is a major opportunity for high school students to demonstrate their strengths, writing skills, aspirations, and motivation.
Well-structured, substantive, and inspirational application essays can get you through the multistage application process successfully. It is your major weapon in competing against your peers with similar or even better credentials. Hence, it makes all the sense in the world to dedicate a significant part of your time and intellectual resources to developing an application essay that will make you stand out.
To make this daunting task easier for you, I have put together a brief guide on how to write a compelling application essay that can win you admission to the desired college.
Take the time to read requirements
Many students take college requirements for granted, wrongly assuming that they are, by and large, homogeneous across the board. This is a mistake that can cost you dearly. Make sure you take the time to go through the requirements and instructions carefully. Don’t be shy to get back to the college with clarifying questions.
You need to know that when evaluators start reviewing your essay, the first thing they look for is eligibility. If you fail to meet the minimum requirements, there is no chance you will get selected.
Structure your essay well
You need to adhere to the established norms of essay writing regarding structure. Do all it takes to ensure that your essay includes all essential components, such as an introduction, the main body, and a conclusion. It is best practice to use the first part to introduce your subject and goal. This is also where you can highlight your main thesis or the main takeaway for your readers. If appropriate, you can describe your methodological approach here.
The main body aims to discuss your arguments that support the main thesis. This is where you flesh them out, using credible sources and your critical thinking skills. This is where you showcase your key analytical and writing skills. Your conclusions, as the name suggests, bring things together. It sums up your arguments and reiterates your main message. It is a deadly mistake to use your conclusion to introduce a new concept or idea which you have not discussed in the previous sections.
Clarity is your main weapon. If you have ever used custom research papers no plagiarism services like TopEssayWriting, you know how important it is to write original papers that are free of plagiarism and that demonstrate ideas and concepts concisely and lucidly. If you are not able to write clearly, the chances are that you don’t understand the concepts yourself. This is a dangerous perception you don’t want your evaluators to be left with.
Be a critical thinker, not just a writer
While your writing skills are of utmost importance, you should make every effort to be perceived as a great critical thinker. It is not enough to just reference credible sources and evidence, even if you are able to do it clearly and eloquently.
Evaluators are looking for your ability to analyze the evidence used, compare and contrast findings in different sources, and draw logical conclusions. You can take things one step further by identifying gaps in current knowledge or research.
This is also where you showcase your personal strengths and qualities. Talk about how your past educational experience has helped you evolve and learn. Talk about how adaptive and resilient you are to changing circumstances. Focus on your long-term goals and ways in which the college can help you achieve those.
Don’t allow spelling or grammatical errors
You can completely ruin your application essay by overlooking spelling and grammar mistakes. When evaluators see them, they perceive them as a sign of irresponsibility. This does not bode well for any applicant.
Try not to fret about possible mistakes as you draft your essay. At this stage, you can just eradicate the most obvious mistakes and typos. When you are done drafting, set aside specific slots you will dedicate to a complete scrubbing of your paper. Edit and proofread and edit and proofread some more. Don’t give up until you are fully satisfied with your paper.
If possible, ask someone you trust to read your paper. These can be your friends, family members, or tutors. They will be looking for the originality, consistency, and coherence of your essay on the one hand. On the other hand, they will help you with copyediting. They should be able to provide lots of writing tips, which you can rely on to come up with a well-structured and well-balanced essay that will make you stand out.
Power of practical examples
Never discount the power of practical examples. Don’t suffice to generalize or draw overall conclusions. Exemplify your points whenever you can. They make your essay look more persuasive and fact-based. They also point to your ability to back up arguments with evidence.
Writing a college application essay can be a tall order if you are unprepared. To begin with, you need to meet the minimum requirements to have any chance of success. Make sure you structure your essay well and in accordance with best practices in essay writing. Showcase your key skills, highlight your goals, and ways in which the college can help you attain those. Get rid of errors and seek overall coherence to come up with a kind of killer essay that will help you get the job done.
Joanne Elliot is a professional writer, student coach, and copyeditor. Throughout her long and impressive career, she has served on numerous admissions committees. Joanne knows a thing or two about what makes a compelling application essay. She enjoys sharing the nuggets of her diverse and multifaceted experience with both high school and college students on a regular basis.