The college essay seems to stop a lot of college applicants in their tracks. Why? Because no one knows quite how to write it and what the college want.
Here are some simple ways to think about the college application essay that might help you get it done.
• What you write must go beyond your resume, your recommendations, and your high school transcripts. Admissions officers want to know about you, your personality and emotions. What makes you do so well in school? Why do you excel in math or prefer English classes? What hobbies, interests, or passions do you have?
• Don’t just tell; tell a story. If you like football, don’t only tell them that or about what you have accomplished. Rather tell the story of a day at practice and how practice pumps you up or relate a time in the locker room when you felt part of a team. If you want to major in animal science, describe the first time you fell in love with a pet or visited a farm.
• Be yourself. Don’t write in a “homework” kind of way. Write like you’re speaking to a friend. Don’t use a thesis statement or a five-paragraph essay format, tell a story. Don’t sound academic if that’s not who you are.
• Highlight yourself. You don’t need to brag, but you do need to be confident that you are as good as other applicants. Your experiences are important. Be sure to share them. It is often the day-to-day and little things that both define you and stand out. Ask friends and relatives what makes you special, and let admissions know about your special-ness.
• Include your goals. You can always bring your story, special traits, and interests back to what your long-term goals are and how this college will help you meet those goals. Colleges like to know you want them as much as you want them to want you.
Keeping these ideas in mind might help you sit down and write a good personal statement. Don’t think about it as an assignment. Think of it as a way to say: “Hey, I’m good. I have these attributes, and I think, even beyond my being a good student, that I will fit well on your campus.