As you sit down and begin writing your college application essays, you’re forgiven for being a little bit intimidated. Running through your mind is the idea of what you put down on paper today is going to affect where you attend college, and have a profound impact on the rest of your life! In reality, it’s not that extreme. Unless you really do something really, really wrong, a single essay won’t be the difference in getting you into a particular college. First, you need to check out this course and learn how to choose the right college for you. This is essential because different schools have different requirements, and you want to target your essay accordingly. In general admissions staff look for a combination of:
- The kind of student you have been throughout high school
- Your test results and achievements in high school and for your SAT’s
- The activities you’ve been involved with, within and outside school
- What the school counselor and your teachers say about you
Building on this, colleges are acutely aware of how the information is presented. Make sure it’s neat, organized and accurate, and absolutely flawless in terms of spelling, grammar and punctuation. This course is fantastic in outlining everything you need to know in writing your college application. Even though your essay isn’t the critical point, it really makes sense to put together the absolute best application you can. Here’s some ideas to help get your brainstorming started and find the perfect topic that will help you get accepted.
Look through your achievements and activities and think about everything you have done since you were a freshmen. What are you most proud of, and is there anything specific you want the college to know about you? Are you a star football player that plans to play at a college level, or a gifted academic that wants to study with a certain professor? Let them know!
Reach out to your family and friends and ask them what they consider your biggest claims to fame to be. As people all remember different things, they’ll have a fantastic array of personal stories and anecdotes that may give you new ideas, or even provide the topic for your essay. Don’t forget to take notes as you’re going through all of this, as it will be impossible to remember it all. Jot down what’s important, and you won’t lose any of the good stuff.
Let your mind wander as you brainstorm, and also note down issues that matter to you, experiences that stand out in your mind, and the people or the places that left an impression on you. Think about smells that invoke memories, emotions you experienced, and don’t just limit yourself to your happiest times. Perhaps one of your strongest defining moments was crying in the bleachers after you learnt you didn’t make the varsity team. The more meaningful you can make your story, filled with your emotions, the better you can connect to the reader. This blog post covers a great format for writing college essays, have a read and make sure you have your structure right.
If you’re needing a kick start to get your ideas flowing, try a short exercise and spend 10 minutes answering the following questions. Keep your brainstorm answers short, and once all your ideas are down you can revisit the topics and build on any particular favorites:
- 10 things you remember from high school
- 5 things that excite you
- 3 most awkward memories
- 10 favorite activities
- 5 words your parents or teachers would use to describe you
- 5 words your friends would use to describe you
- 10 of the coolest places you’ve been to
- 5 hardest moments in your life
- 5 largest influences in your life
- 5 favorite books
- 5 of your proudest accomplishments
For people that are more visually oriented, draw out a timeline of your life, highlighting the highs and the lows, and make note of any epiphanies and pivotal moments. Most people don’t have a single defining experience that changed their life, so think also about changes that happened to you over time, and use a particular incident as an example to illustrate your point.
Stories and personal anecdotes are a great way to connect to the reader, and it’s very easy to get started. Pick a word that describes you, and that you want to demonstrate to the college. Write the word down, it could be anything. Think of words like exciting, passionate, or adventurous, or one of the core values of the college and think of five stories that you could tell that demonstrate how you fit the word. Pick the one you like the most, and start writing. Include the sights, smells and sounds to set the scene, and try to remember every possible detail – you can always refine it later.
If you’re really stuck, think about the following questions and see if there are any of these ideas that appeal to you, and fit what you need to demonstrate in your application:
- What attribute, quality or skill separates you from everyone else, and how did you develop this?
- Think about your favorite books, movies, music and works of art, and how they have influenced your life. Why are they your favorite?
- Describe the most difficult time in your life, and why it was so. Talk about how the experience changed your perspective on life.
- Have you ever had to struggle for success, and been successful? What was it that led you to success?
- Is there a time you’ve put all of your effort into a task and failed? How did you respond?
- If you could be anywhere in the world, what would you most like to be doing, and where would you most like to be? If you could choose a single person to share it with, who would that be?
- Have you had your eyes opened to something you previously couldn’t see, in a moment of epiphany? Describe what happened.
- Describe your beliefs, or the philosophy you live your life by. What is your strongest character trait?
- If a friend was writing this for you, what would they write about in your admissions essay?
- Talk about activities outside of the classroom that demonstrates the qualities of the college you are applying for. Which extracurricular means the most to you?
- What made you want to join the community activities you partake in, and why do you continue to contribute?
- What do you dream of for your future? What will it take for you to consider your life a success, when you are looking back over it in thirty years’ time. How does this college fit into these plans, and what accomplishments do you need?
Remember that once you start writing don’t just answer the topic questions, but add your own insight and talk about what you have learned, or gained, from an activity. Have a look at this course and see success stories of both local and international students that have been accepted , and learn from their experience. Connecting to the admissions officer is one of the keys to success in your application, and check out this course for the other secrets.
Your next step into college is going to be fun, exciting, and a wonderful chapter in your life, so get applying today!