College essays are one of the most difficult parts of the college application experience, but once you understand the mechanics of college essay writing, you’ll have a much better handle on them.
Many college applications start out relatively straightforward, requiring you to fill in things like your name, your grades, and your extracurricular activities. But then, a series of open-ended questions begins to appear, and you’re forced to write extended essays that prove your worth to the college you’re applying to. Talk about pressure!
Most students dread writing college essays, but we’ve got five spot-on tips that can help you conquer your fears:
1. Be yourself. It’s a simple piece of advice that most students overlook. College essays are meant to concisely capture your character. Don’t try to put on a super professional or flashy personality to impress your readers. Instead, just write in a way that comes naturally to you.
2. Let someone else proofread it. It will reduce some of the workload you face. Plus, an indifferent party is more likely to catch errors than the one who wrote the piece.
3. Brag, but brag subtly. Bring up anything you think will look good—but only in ways that directly answer the question. Think of college essays as a test to see how well you can brag without it being obvious that you’re bragging.
4. Outline first. Even for shorter essays, begin by outlining the main points you want to get across. This will help your organization immensely, and will ensure your essay is concise and focused.
5. Be as specific as possible. Don’t just say “I’m very active in the community.” Use specific examples and exact instances to support your claims and strengthen your position.
The biggest piece of advice we can give you is to stress less about your essays. The more you worry about them, the more complicated they’re going to seem.