Don’t underestimate the importance of your college admissions essay

Although many students are preoccupied with taking the SAT and ACT college admissions exams, a good essay will also make your college application stand out. Some high school seniors are intimidated by the admissions essay, but you don't have to be. Follow these tips and submit your essay with confidence.

• Keep it focused: Nothing can kill an admissions essay faster than wandering all over the place. Admissions officials want to see that you can make a clear, concise point and stick to it through the essay. Think of it as a chance to shine, and keep your main point in mind when you're writing. Trying to cram too much into an essay can make it sound scattered or vague. Don't worry about missing out on the chance to say something – that's what interviews are for.

• Be specific: A common mistake in some admissions essays is being too vague about what you want. If you tell admissions officials you want to help people, explain why. If you're talking about how you're a team player, give examples. Don't be afraid to go into detail. Some high school seniors are put off by this and think essays should be sweeping and broad. However, admissions officials want to hear about how you handled a particular situation or what you've done, not a grand overview of your life story.

• Don't repeat yourself: A lot of students waste a valuable opportunity to show admissions officials who they really are by repeating information from elsewhere in their college application. Don't waste time repeating things that are covered in other parts of your application – it's an essay, not a resume.

• Be yourself: Another mistake a lot of students make is writing what they think college admissions officials want to hear. Avoid trying to anticipate what they want and be yourself. Not only will you find it easier to write the essay, but it will also sound more sincere and genuine, which is exactly what college admissions officials want. Similarly, if you feel strongly about a certain topic and you're worried that your point of view sounds cliché, give a specific explanation backing up your point to keep it relevant to you and your perspective.

Above all, try not to worry. Be yourself, be sincere and keep it focused. Then, all you have to do is turn in your college admissions essay confident that you've done your best.

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  1. Susie Watts says:

    As a private college counselor, I think you have given students some great ideals for their college essays. This is a part of the college application process that a student can use to make a difference. It is also something he or she can control. I know that the college admissions essay can help one applicant stand out over another because of the quality of the essay and what a college has been able to learn about this student through the essay.

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