The summer before the senior year of High School is a time to unwind after a tough junior year. The summer is also a great time to get a head start into the college application process. It is a time to gather information about potential schools, a time to visit some actual campuses and to prepare for all the paperwork to come. It is a perfect time to make a list of “reach schools” as well as schools which are perfect fits.
One significant piece to the application puzzle is the admissions essay. The essay affords the applicant a chance to promote his or her candidacy by writing about something personal. Do not write about all of your academic accomplishments and extracurricular activities. Do not use the essay to brag about how great you are. That’s what teacher’s recommendations are for. Instead, tell a story which gives the reader insight into who you are-your passions, your outlook on life, your personality, your maturity and your character.
Visit the Common Application website to download the common application which is accepted by a majority of colleges. Familiarize yourself with six different essay topics. The essay topics usually don’t change so if the site has not yet been updated for the 2009-2010 college year, use the topics from the 2008-2009 common application as a guide. Figure out which topic is best suited for the story you intend to tell.
Outline what you intend to say. Organize your thoughts before writing. Think about which tone best represents your personality. Try and pick a topic which captivates the reader’s attention. Realize that College Admissions Officers are inundated with thousands of applications each year. Most of the essays submitted to them are ho hum and boring. Don’t submit a snoozer! Submit an essay which stands out from all the rest! This will greatly enhance the odds of an acceptance.
The internet is full of sample essay ideas. Perform a Google search on college application essay topics. This will prevent writers block and motivate you to get started. Make sure you do not copy someone else’s work. In the end however, the essay must be unique to you. College Admissions Officers can spot a cut and paste job a mile away.
Once you have chosen a topic, write a rough draft. Ask an adult to proofread the essay for grammatical errors. Make sure to get all your facts straight. For example, if you really want to go to the University of Pennsylvania, don’t write about how much you admire its founder William Penn. If you are serious about UPenn, you should know that it was founded by Benjamin Franklin.
Rewrite your rough draft just before school starts up again in September. Schedule an appointment with the College Office. Have the College Advisor read your essay and welcome any tips or pointers this professional may give you.
Steven N. Weisman is an author and private SAT Tutor. Many valuable test strategies and information can be found on his blog and website http://www.testniques.com.