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College Application Essay

College application essays must showcase your strengths and answer the question being asked

A college application essay is a required for your college application for many universities, especially ones that have incoming classes that are amongst the best in the country. An admissions counselor being able to read an applicant’s college essay will often allow them to separate the candidates that they’re considering for their next class. In some cases, prospective students can fill out a college application essay as part of the common app.

Most of the time, a college application essay will have one of three themes. College application essay will often look for you to talk about yourself and share your personality, describe why you’re considering that school or to be creative. The latter type generally refers to answering college application essay topics that tend to be deeper in nature.

In most cases, the importance of a college essay within your college application as a whole is less than things like your GPA and test scores. However, it is offering moderate importance can result in it being significant in the end if the decision is between you and somebody else with similar academic credentials. Also, an especially well written essay can raise your stock. Conversely, a poorly written one or, worse, an offensive one, can take you off the table.

College application essay: What to avoid

One of the quickest ways to alienate someone working in undergraduate admissions or graduate admissions reading your essay is by poorly choosing your topic or style. Although you’ll usually receive a prompt, you’ll generally have a bit of leeway within that and need to be careful. Here are some college application tips of what to avoid in your essay:

  • Restating things that are in your application. They want to know more about you than they already do.
  • Be careful when attempting to be humorous. You don’t know the sense of humor of the person reading it.
  • Tread very carefully when writing about politics or religion. Generally, don’t, but doing something like writing about why your church has made you who you are without talking about its religiosity might work.
  • Sports is another area where you want to be careful. If you write about this, make sure that you do it in a way that makes you unique as this topic is regularly covered.
  • Discussing illegal behavior or sexual activities that you’ve participated in. You can discuss your sexual orientation, however.
  • Being untruthful.
  • Complaining.
  • Being condescending.
  • Not following the prompt or going outside of the word count requested.

College essay: Common topics

A common college essay format is a compare and contrast essay. In it, you’ll analyze and describe multiple places, ideas, things, experiences and things like that. As you flesh out your essay, you’ll talk about how these things are similar {compare}, and how they are dissimilar (contrast). Some writers will alternate, discussing one aspect of one and then one of the other and going back and forth. Others will focus almost entirely on one of the things being discussed before moving on to the other. When you write this college application essay, be sure that you have enough similar and dissimilar aspects to discuss.

Some compare and contrast essay examples college include education systems if you have related personal experience to draw upon, having a part-time job while in high school versus not and, if applicable, your experiences living in a large city versus when you were in a small town hours from any sort of metropolis.

A college application essay format that is common is writing about yourself. Those reading this want to learn more about you, after all. When writing it, present a side of you that’s unique or most likely unique. What makes you who you are? What drives you? You could also incorporate what about the school most interests you and how you’d expect to fit in there. Telling a story about yourself in a college application essay is a great way to use this space.

Some college admission essay examples about yourself include writing about the influence that others have had on you, describing a special talent you have and why your intended major is what it is.

Another college essay prompt to expect is responding to a question like, “Why did you choose this school?” This is partly asked to ensure that you’ve researched the school fully. This includes what its culture is like outside of what’s on its website or through official sources. It’s also asked so that those in the admissions office there can gain an insight into your general thought process.

When using this type of college application essay format, research websites such as Niche and Unigo as they’ll provide you with a good feel for what it’s like at these schools from students themselves.

College application essay: The structure

Unless you’ll be copy-and-pasting your college application essay into a box that’ll format it how the college wants, you need to take some time to consider this aspect of it yourself. Even if you’ll be copy-and-pasting, ensure that the new formatting hasn’t negatively altered your word count or cut something off. Otherwise, if you’re on your own, use 1-inch margins, ensure that your paragraphs are clearly delineated and use an easy-to-read font. Regardless of these aspects, make sure to not use, in nearly all cases, symbols, emojis or all caps. Those may result in the rejection of your college application.

As important as selecting your topic and the sentence structure that you use is, your overall essay structure should not be overlooked. You want to have form to what you say, not have it read more like somebody rambling. One of the best ways to complete an essay structure is by creating an outline. Simply put, ensure that it has an introduction, body and conclusion. One exception would be if your word count is so limited that you can’t really have an introduction or conclusion.

A college application essays must showcase your strengths and answer the question being asked

How to start working on a college application essay

One of the hardest steps is getting started. However, teaching yourself how to write a college application essay will help you start the process. Most importantly, take into account that much of the time and effort that goes into this doesn’t actually involve writing. First, spend some time brainstorming. This might be short, if a perfect idea almost immediately comes to mind, but, in more cases than not, spending a couple weeks on this is recommended. In many cases, what ends up being a terrific idea takes some time to surface.

Then, when you settle down to write your college application essay, just write. Don’t worry about structure, grammar or anything like that. Simply let the thoughts flow and get them down on paper or digitally. After you do that is when you should fine-tune your college essay. You don’t want to stifle your thoughts by worrying about those elements of it while you’re letting those thoughts flow. You will have plenty of time to tighten it, make it grammatically correct and revise it.

Just like you often have a tone in your voice when you speak, you have a tone in what you write. It may not be as apparent in the written word as it is vocally, but it’s there. What tone should your college application essay have? It should have your real voice, showing who you are as a person. What it shouldn’t have is an overly formal tone or a risky one that sacrifices proper grammar.

It’s important that you have a unique writing voice in your college application essay. This shows in the way that you string your words together and how you look at the world. One important factor to keep in mind is that you have a unique voice in the way that you speak vocally; the same should be true with the way that you write.

Ivy league and graduate admissions essays

Although graduate admissions essays are similar to what undergraduate admissions officers read, they also differ in important ways. Stories should be less of a focus in this college essay while your academic and long-term professional goals and how this school can help you meet those should be more of its focus. With that said, a graduate admission essay should also include your voice and who you are, and a story can help flush that out.

The importance of your college application essay increases when sending it with a college application to an Ivy League school or a private school such as MIT, Duke, Chicago or Stanford. The acceptance rates at colleges such as these are often around 5%. To write an Ivy League essay, you’ll need to ensure that you write about something deeply personal, include details that bring color to it and repeatedly proofread every aspect of it.

College application essay examples

When learning how to write a college application essay, it’s helpful to look over some college application essay examples. One of the best ways that writers improve is by reading, and the same idea is at work here. Read college application essays that others have written as you go through your brainstorming period to get a feel for how these should be written, what’s worked and what hasn’t.

Common app essay

When you fill out a common app, which is accepted by more than 800 colleges, you’ll likely be asked to complete a common app essay. Although you may be tempted to use the same common app essay for different schools, this is almost always not a good idea. Sending an identical or similar scholarships essay is understandable, but a college application is more important than any scholarship application.

College athletics and sports scholarships to help pay for college

Many of those writing college application essays will be playing varsity sports at one of the schools that they’re applying to. Next College Student Athlete has been helping them find their best fits since it was founded in 2000 with many of those high school student-athletes being awarded athletic scholarships.

This organization was founded by a former high school-turned-college football player who had struggled through his recruiting experience in the 1980s and wanted to help those following him. As a result, NCSA has helped more than 150,000 student-athletes find spots on college teams over the past couple of decades. Also, 35,000 coaches are in the NCSA network. They’re looking for good fits as they make up their rosters.

Athletes who take advantage of NCSA’s services receive a number of benefits. They can fill out a profile, allowing coaches to see in one place all of their vital information. An app can also be downloaded; this allows them to keep themselves updated on their recruiting process wherever they are. NCSA staff members regularly put together highlight videos that put a player’s skills in the best light possible. Its message center also helps simplify the process of talking with coaches. Meanwhile, the organization’s matching algorithm helps student-athletes determine which schools would likely be good fits for them.

Through its 20 years, NCSA has received numerous positive reviews from high school student-athletes, their parents and college coaches. For example, its Google Reviews average score is a near-perfect 4.9. Those looking to join this community and receive NCSA’s expert guidance as they go through the athletic recruiting process are encouraged to fill out a free profile today. Any questions about it and about NCSA’s offerings can be answered by calling 866 495-5172.

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