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How to Write a Successful Application Essay

In this article, you will learn how to write a successful college application essay using a three-step approach.

Being accepted to the college or university becomes harder as there are more and more applicants for a limited number of spaces. What are the ways to improve your chances to enter the college or university of your choice? One of the ways is writing a brilliant personal essay as a part of your admissions application.

An essay consists of a relatively small number of words, which can mean the difference between your acceptance and rejection. The way you write your personal essay can demonstrate the admissions committee that you are different from other candidates. This paper provides the information about you, which the grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities just cannot.

To provide you with comprehensive essays, we offer you to consider the college application essay guidelines that view the essay writing as a three-step process. This process consists of:

  • Brainstorming ideas

  • Choosing a topic

  • Tips for writing an effective and powerful essay.

Step 1: Brainstorming Topics for a College Essay

Choosing the subject is the most important part of writing an essay.

It is recommended to devote about 1-2 weeks to brainstorming and deciding what you are going to write about. This brainstorming session can help you find a subject that you have not considered at first.

Answer the following questions to develop ideas for your college essay:

  • What are your major achievements, and why are they so important? Do not limit yourself to only accomplishments that have been formally recognized since sometimes even the minor achievements become significant when placed in the context of your life.

  • Is there any quality, attribute, or skill that distinguishes you from the others? How did you develop these characteristics?

  • Think of your favorite books, movies, and works of art. If they have influenced your life and your interests in a meaningful way, you can use these facts in your essay.

  • Consider the difficulties and problems you have experienced. Did they change your perspective on life?

  • Have you ever struggled for something and succeeded? What helped you succeed?

  • On the contrary, have you ever struggled for something and failed? What was your response?

  • If you could choose any possible occupation, what would you be doing right now? Where would you like to be? Is there a person, living and dead, you would like to be with? These questions will help you determine your preferences and purposes.

  • Have you experienced a feeling of realizing something important that you haven’t even considered previously?

  • What is your strongest personality trait? What are your beliefs or what is a philosophy you adhere to?

  • Which of your extracurricular activities can demonstrate the qualities that are sought after by the universities? Which of these qualities mean the most to you?

  • What are your plans for the future? What do you need to achieve to consider your life successful? How does this particular college or university fit into your future plans?

If you did not generate enough ideas with the help of the previous questions, you may want to try the following exercises:

  • Seek help from your parents, colleagues, and friends. You may ask them to list your most salient personality traits and explain why they have chosen these particular qualities. It will help you form a proper image of yourself. After that, you may illustrate your strongest traits with your life experiences.

  • Consider your childhood. You should not state your complete biography. However, if any events inspired your interests, it will be useful to mention them. Interests that emerged in your childhood may be defining in your life, thus their development is important.

  • Whether you are greatly influenced by a person or a group of people and aspire to become like them, you may include some information on these individuals and mention specific traits that you admire.

  • Read the examples of successful admission essays.

  • Determine your goals and specify how the university or college you have chosen will help you achieve them. Do not limit yourself to only career goals. Think broadly. Are there any other spheres of life where your education will help you fulfill your plans?

You should carefully consider all the points above as they can help you form a really outstanding idea for your admission essay. Your topic should be the one you are passionate about, and it has to demonstrate your defining traits, skills, and aspirations. Otherwise, you would hardly surprise the admission tutors.

Step 2: Choosing a Topic for Your Application Essay

After having completed the brainstorming stage of the essay writing, you should have an idea of what general impression you want to make on the admissions tutors.

Now, it’s time to select the topics that allow you to synthesize your most important personal traits, experiences, and skills into a coherent text that will address your desire to enter a specific college or university. At the same time, you have to make sure you are answering the required questions.

Remember that whichever college or university you are applying to, your essay should provide convincing evidence that you fit into a particular academic environment. You should obtain the information about this institution and use it in your essay.

Although it is rather hard to impress the admissions officers who read 50-100 essays per day, this article presents some guidelines that might help you get started. Continue reading to get more admission essay help.

However, before you start writing, try assessing the topics you have selected according to the following criteria:

  • A topic that you have selected should describe something of personal importance in your life, and you should be able to support it with vivid personal experiences.

  • If you plan to make your essay funny, we recommend you to be very careful. If the essay that was intended to be humorous is done poorly, it will not be appreciated by the admissions tutors.

  • Consider your entire application. If your topic simply repeats the information that is already mentioned elsewhere, it should be left out.  

  • You should be able to offer vivid and ingenious paragraphs to support your topic.  

  • Your topic should give a complete answer to the question that was asked. Moreover, make sure that you can appropriately cover and elaborate on all the points, rather than write a poor and incomplete summary of something that could have been interesting if addressed properly.

  • Your essay should keep the reader’s attention from the first words. Is it possible to capture the reader’s attention with the topics you selected?

  • Make sure your topic is not overdone. However, even if you have selected a topic that was broadly used before, you can come up with a unique and convincing approach.

  • Be sure your essay doesn’t leave a negative impression. Stay away from controversial opinions, especially in the spheres of religion and politics. However, if you still choose to present a controversial topic, you should acknowledge the counterarguments.

  • Try to decide whether the admissions officers will remember your topic after having read hundreds of other essays. Furthermore, try to figure out what they are going to remember about your topic and you as a person.

After sorting out your topics according to the above criteria, you should have a shortlist of 1-2 interesting essay topics.

For your further writing process, you should consider the guidelines below.

1. You Should Focus on Personal Qualities. If you plan to describe any hard situations in your life, make sure to highlight your personal qualities that helped you resist or overcome the hardships. The mere fact that something horrible happened to you will not make you a successful applicant. However, if you managed to demonstrate some exceptional qualities under difficult circumstances, it can become the ground for a brilliant essay.

2. Essay Fit. An essay should conform to the rest of the candidate’s application and provide the additional information. You should steer clear of repeating the same things over and over again.

3. Addressing Diversity. Being diverse is one of the biggest temptations of all the applicants. However, you should properly address your diversity, rather than simply state it as a fact. For example, if you are a minority, you should explain how you managed to overcome the stigma and social ostracism. Furthermore, you can demonstrate how your diversity will contribute to the social life in the academic environment.

4. First Impression. You absolutely need to make a positive first impression. Therefore, you shouldn’t write about your weaknesses, unless they are necessary to support your point. You should concentrate on your strengths and present them in the most impressive way.  

5. Be Honest. You can be a passionate and skillful writer. However, you should use all your skills when describing the events that actually occurred. Do not invent any difficulties, but rather demonstrate your life and your personality.

You may also seek the admission essay help to get the examples of the essays that meet all the mentioned requirements.  

Step 3: Specific Tips for Writing

When writing an essay, you should keep in mind your two basic goals. The first one is to persuade the admissions tutors that you are particularly worthy of admission and make them aware of your ingenious personality.

The following list of recommendations can be useful when writing your future admission essay:

  1. Make sure you are answering the question.

  2. Be original. A creative approach can make your essay brilliant even if the initial topic sounds a bit boring.

  3. Be yourself. Your personality and your writing ability are the things to reveal in your admission essay. You can describe your feelings, as well as your actions, and it will make your essay unique. Stick to the themes that you have best experiences with.

  4. Avoid long and complicated words if they are not required by the subject.

  5. Use imagery prose to make your text more vivid. Grab the readers’ attention from the very beginning. Admissions tutors usually spend not more than 1-2 minutes reading your essay. Therefore, you should create an intriguing introduction to make them really interested in reading the entire essay.

  6. Create a solid connection between the body paragraphs and the introduction. However creative and original your introduction may be, the body paragraphs should distinctively relate to it.

  7. Use transitions wisely to preserve the logical flow of your text. Transition includes not only transitional phrases like “moreover,” “on the other hand,” and “as a result,” but also the logical development of the idea from one paragraph to another.

  8. Conclusions are vital. The conclusion is your last opportunity to convince the readers or impress them with your qualifications. In the conclusion, you should avoid a plain summary of everything that was said before. You should rather expand the broader aspects of your discussion, provide a linkage to your introduction, and demonstrate the widespread appeal that your topic may have.

  9. Once you have finished your draft essay, put it aside for a while and switch to doing something else. Then, think about your topic and your approach again and decide whether you still consider them worthwhile.  

  10. Revise and edit your essay. When revising your essay, you should delete anything that does not relate to your basic argument. Make sure that your essay is logical and clear and correct any grammatical errors. Keep in mind that during the editing process your main topic may evolve, and your arguments and supporting details may require reordering. Therefore, when planning your writing process, you should leave enough time for revisions and editing. Finally, it is highly recommended to have your essay edited professionally.

All the mentioned guidelines are intended to help you create a prominent admission essay. However, if you feel uncertain about your writing skills, you may seek the admission essay help to make your essay into an impressive and memorable masterpiece.



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