5 Tips for Writing Your College Application Essays
College application essays are the bane of most high school seniors’ existence. The quality and content of your essay could determine whether or not you get into the best colleges or the college of your dreams. Here are some tips on how to make the essay writing process a little easier and come out with a good product. Note that some of these tips are more involved than others, and require long term planning and vision.
1 - Read. A lot.
It’s good to be well-read. Reading books, newspapers, or even magazines helps to expand your vocabulary and introduces you to writing techniques that may help as you write your college application essay or even when you’re writing final papers for a college class. Also, the more you read, the more you develop a critical eye for writing. This will help when you write, edit, and revise your own work.
2 - Plan it out
When you’re writing an essay that could determine your college career, you may feel overwhelmed and will probably encounter the tendency to rant and lose focus. You don’t have to make a formal outline or diagram, but writing out a simple bullet point list of your main points will help you organize your thoughts.
3 - Print it out
Never underestimate the power of print. Though doing all the editing on your laptop seems easier and saves paper and ink, printing out your final copy for a last proofread helps to make any mistakes look more obvious. Spell check definitely does not catch everything.
4 - Read it out loud
Sitting down and actually reading your writing out loud is another way to make grammar mistakes more obvious. Also, you will be able to hear what your writing sounds like and listen for any problems with flow. As you listen, pay attention to whether or not the ideas build on each other. Think of your essay as a story – does it make sense? Are you, the storyteller, making it easy for the reader to understand what you’re getting at?
5 - Get a second opinion
It may feel a little weird to have other people reading your work, especially something personal, but another person’s eyes can always help. Getting the opinion of a current or former English teacher is a good way of knowing the readability of your essay. If your teacher doesn’t have time to read it, ask a friend who likes to read. For you it may be the most readable thing in the world, but that’s only because you wrote it.