Writing your college essay is an opportunity to set yourself apart from the hundreds of other students who are applying to your college. A college essay lets you be yourself while showing off your writing skills. Some essays will have a maximum of 400 – 500 words, but even if there is no limit you don’t want to go past 500 words. Remember that every admissions officer has a big stack of essays to read each day and hopes to spend no more than a few minutes on each. Don’t put your reader in a bad mood by writing 1000 words on all of your afterschool activities. A lot of this detail is unnecessary and can ruin your chances of getting into the school you want.
Keep your essay focused on a single topic. This is a chance to tell the admission committee why you would be a great fit at its institution. You’re selling your personality and not every detail of your academic record. You only have a page or two to impress admission officers, so don’t waste it writing a grocery list of your athletic involvement, your grades, or your community service.
Reread your first draft and look for a single idea you are enthusiastic about and would like to expand and write more about. Try expanding on this one idea and compare it to your first draft. Is it stronger? Is it more focused? Writing your entire essay on a single topic that really excites you shouldn’t be difficult and is exactly what admission officers are looking for.
Edit to remove unnecessary content. When you revise and edit your college essay look for unnecessary words or try looking for a new word that more clearly expresses your thought. Stay away from big and fancy words altogether. This is one of the biggest mistakes students make when trying to impress admission officers. Big and fancy words are often clunky and distract the reader. In the worse cases, you can misuse a word and come across looking unintelligent.
Another way of removing unnecessary content is looking for words like “very” and “many”. Both of these words are vague and often take away from your writing. One last great tip is to remove your introductory and concluding paragraphs and reviewing your essay without these pieces. You may find that your essay is stronger without this content. If so, go back and revise both paragraphs so that they don’t detract from your overall essay.
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