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Have I Written a Good College Application Essay?

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The college application essay is tricky! It needs to be well-written, but it shouldn’t be a typical English class essay with a thesis statement. It needs to be about you and your experiences, but not too much about your experiences. It should be honest, but creative. It should be positive, but also capture the reality of learning from tough situations.

Where is the balance? Well, believe it or not, essay readers know it when they see it, but “it” is so diverse and individual, it is hard to define. College Basics has some suggestions about what to ask yourself after you have written your college essay to evaluate whether or not it is working. Here are the questions, from basic to sophisticated:

  • Does the essay answer what the prompt is asking?
  • Can a reader take a definite impression away about the writer, and one that is overall positive; this writer is insightful, funny, hard-working, determined….
  • Will the reader know something more about the writer beyond what is revealed in his/her resume and transcript?
  • Is the writing clear so that a reader can follow both thought and time logically, and is it easy to read and digest?
  • Is the essay plausible, not overblown?
  • Does the writer take an interesting point of view in presenting his/her story; does the writer see something in the small and/or seemingly insignificant?
  • Does this essay stand out from others because it has a wake-up beginning, crisp and eye-opening detail, humor, unusual thinking and understanding,…?

If you can answers these questions objectively in the positive, or better yet—have an object reader answer these questions in the positive–, you are finally ready for editing and polish!

For more help with your college application essay, check out our many articles about the college essay and how to write it!