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Tips on Writing Rewarding College Essays

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Tips on Writing Rewarding College Essays

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Now in the Spring semester of the school year, it is the season of filling out college and scholarship applications. The to-do list can seem overwhelmingly long for seniors during this time, and it can be difficult to know where to begin when faced with one million unfamiliar, transitional stepping stones into adulthood. This can be especially stumping when it comes to college essays, speaking from experience. When I was first presented with the task of writing a college-level personal essay, I was applying for a scholarship to a prestigious university. Looking at the prompt and attempting to reflect on myself and how best to present that forward, I felt lost. Around the time that I began stepping into the college application process, I was invited to a National College Admissions Conference at Rice University with seminars presented by admissions officers from top universities in the country. Leaving the conference, I felt I had learned tips and tricks for writing essays that I might not have had before, and I later managed to reap the rewards of this conference, receiving a full-ride scholarship that I believe to be highly credited to my essays. In the hopes of aiding others in the same process I managed to fight through, I want to share a few pieces of advice that went a long way in assisting me!

 

  1. Share your story in a way that is individualistic to you.

Try to look for stories that will draw admissions officers to you; show what you personally have struggled with and overcome in an interesting way. (Be careful not to get caught up in the negative, though. Focus on what you gained.)

 

  1. Don’t be afraid to write stylistically.

Being too professional can take away what makes you…you. When applying, it’s okay to use the occasional metaphor or to appeal to the senses or emotion of the people reading. Admissions officers are people, and painting a picture in a moving light is more likely to make you stand out!

 

  1. Passion is valued over writing ability; it’s okay not to be a literary genius.

If the person reading is enraptured by your story or your obvious passion for what you’re writing about, writing ability will be overshadowed. Of course, beware of distracting grammatical and spelling errors, but don’t get so caught up in your own perception of your writing that your tone becomes technical.

 

  1. Unless the prompt specifically asks, try not to simply flaunt academic prowess in your essays!

They see your grades; the essays are about presenting who you are to admissions officers and scholarship offerers.

 

  1. Presenting the facts of your story can become redundant and boring.

To make yourself shine, consider sharing a personal anecdote or quote that ties into what you’re trying to say in an intriguing way. The people in admissions read hundreds to thousands of essays; make sure to show just how colorful you can be.

 

  1. Take risks!

The best way to make yourself stand out is to be different. Some examples of “winning” essays involve everything from sensitive topics to practically comedically toned ones. If done in the right way, writing with risk can pull officers in because it might not be something they see students do often. Think professional, but allow yourself room to stand out from the crowd!

 

These are just a few pieces of advice that I feel helped me throughout my journey of applying to universities and scholarships. Despite the stress that writing essays for college can cause, it’s important to remember that every problem can be broken down and tackled by anyone. You can do it, seniors! This is your time to flourish.

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