When students apply for college admission, one of the most important aspects of their application package is the personal essay. What makes a good personal essay? That IS the question!
Here are some reflections form admissions officers that might help you plan for writing the best college essay you can.
First, and most generally, admissions people talk about students writing to the prompt. Many college essays fail to respond to the prompt, and that is a No Go. If a prompt asks you to describe or to discuss, do that and know the difference. Also, most prompts have two parts, that is, you are asked to discuss or describe for a reason. You may be asked what you have learned or how you have changed or how something has meaning for you. All parts of a prompt must be addressed, especially the part that reveals something about who you are.
Here are some other things that essay readers consider.
The presentation of the essay:
• Is the writing clear and easy to read?
• Is the essay correct?
• Is the essay written with a tone that has a favorable impression, that is, it is not snobby or too pert or too glib?
The Content of the essay:
• Is what has been written plausible, or is it overblown?
• Is the content consistent with the rest of the application information such as the resume?
• Would a better topic tend to show the student in a more favorable way? (For example, if a student is trying to show he has matured, should he write about a car accident or a party experience, or could he show his maturity with a topic that would showcase him more favorably?)
The impression the essay gives the reader:
Does the essay show you as a person and not just another number or only as student?
Does the essay give a positive impression over all, or does it leave the reader with a negative impression, or worse, an indifferent sense?
Does it blow the reader away, or is it memorable to the reader?
Essays must first do what the college has asked. Then the essay needs to be readable and leave a good impression of the applicant as a real person. Tricks and uniqueness can sometimes help but sticking to the basics is the best strategy.