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When the time comes for you to start applying to colleges, most parts of your application, like your GPA, test scores, and list of activities, have already been or are close to being completed. However, one thing you still have total control over is your college entrance essay. You can make mistakes and write blocks of texts you are not content with, then have the option to go online, search how to write a college application essay, learn from our tips and tricks, and try again.

This type of essay gives you the chance to express your personality, vision, and future plans to the admissions committee. The tips we have compiled on how to write a college essay will simply help you express yourself through a good organizational structure, not confine you to a set of rules you must follow. Let’s begin!

Start the Process Early

It is never too early to begin working on your essay, even if all you do is conjure up ideas in your head. The earlier you start, the more time you have to write multiple drafts and perfect your final one.

We would advise you to start working on your college essay before your senior year if the school you want to apply to has released their writing prompts. The summer is a great time to brainstorm and get some drafts done because you rarely have to deal with school activities and might have more free time.

We understand that applying for college is an important step in your life. And as with many other life-altering things, you might be anxious about this process. That anxiety can lead to procrastination until you are a few days away from the application deadline and rushing to finish the essay. Remind yourself that good things take time. If you want to turn in the best version of your essay, start early and work as much as you can on it.

Read Through the Application Essay Guidelines

Although it might seem like common knowledge, it is worth reminding you to read the instructions carefully. You must be able to organize and write down your thoughts with the page and word limit in mind. Thoroughly following the guidelines will show the admissions committee that you can and will follow the directions of their program.

Ignoring the guidelines set by the college would help you stand out but not in a good way. Instead, try standing out with your writing and the insights you make in your essay.

Create an Essay Plan

It might seem tempting to sit down, write whatever comes to your head, go over it once or twice and then turn it in. But, skipping straight to the writing part without planning will probably result in some major issues. The essay could need more editing, have a weaker structure, and even miss some guideline points. All things that will influence the way the admissions committee perceives you as a student.

The safest route is to create an outline that helps organize your thoughts and ideas before writing. This approach will help you better develop each part of your essay and save you time in editing. Follow the below-mentioned steps to put together a simple outline.

Brainstorm topic ideas

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Sit down and list all the topics you consider writing about. At this stage, you should not be critical of the quality of the concepts you come up with. Instead, prioritize quantity and get as many topic ideas on paper as possible. Try setting a timer of 10-15 minutes for each brainstorming session you have. Also, be prepared to write down any ideas you might think of during the day while dealing with other tasks.

Choose a topic

After you compile the list of topics, start evaluating each idea. Look for ones that fit the prompt but also interest you as a writer. Then, proceed to shorten your list until you find the one.

Brainstorm details that support your topic

After choosing the subject, you should brainstorm ideas of what details you will use in the essay body. Try to write your topic in the middle of a paper and then jot down around any ideas that support it. Once again, do not be critical of what you write at this point. Like with the title, you can eliminate unfitting ones later.

Organize your details into an outline format

A basic map of your essay should include an introduction, a body of details, and a conclusion. Now, you can look through the list of details and decide which ones fit where, and then eliminate the rest. This way, you can create a general outline of what your essay should look like and then begin writing based on it.

Grab the Attention with an Appealing Introduction

The opening lines can make or break your essay. You should have a strong hook that will attract the attention of the admission committee reading it. Remember that these people read hundreds, if not thousands, of applications from students. Aim to write something that will engage the reader and hint at the quality essay they are about to read.

With every hook idea, ask yourself: If I were the reader, would I be interested in reading this piece?

Open Yourself Up

The focus of your essay should not be on the experience per se but on how that experience relates to you. Write about how you felt and how that occurrence changed you and your values. Expressing your feelings and struggles will not make you seem weak. On the contrary, there is a lot of strength in vulnerability. The readers will connect more with you and your essay when you show them that you face challenges and have flaws but are willing to work on them.

Write About Something Important to You

Don’t just write what you believe the admission committee wants to read. Instead, make the essay as personal as you can. Write about something important to you: a person, book, cause, experience, or anything that has had a deep impact on you and the person you are. Don’t simply describe the object or explain the event. Always relate how these things impact who you are today and who you want to be in the future.

Steer Clear of Clichés

Like you, many students are searching for helpful tips on how to tackle their college entrance essays. You all might have come across the same examples of writings and are using them as inspiration for your own. This way, many students end up using the same phrases and cliches in their pieces.

The whole purpose of such an essay is to distinguish you from the others, showcase your personality and views. It is one of the elements that help the committee choose the students that would best fit their program. So, re-read that essay, and remove all phrases and sentences that sound like clichés. Aim to be authentic, original, and prove to the admission committee that you would be a unique and valuable asset for their college.

Keep the Reader Wondering Where It’s Going

Do you know that feeling when you are so invested in a movie that you stand at the edge of your seat, not hearing anything that goes around you and questioning what they will do next? That is the feeling you want to elicit with your essay.

Write some dramatic and mysterious lines that keep the reader wondering about what plot twist might take place. Pose questions you think they might have, and then provide the answers throughout your essay. Some degree of predictability is acceptable, but do not risk losing the reader’s attention.

Edit, Edit, Edit

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After you have spent hours upon hours working on your essay, it might be tempting to leave it as soon as you write the last line. But, the editing stage is just as important as the writing one. This step can help take your essay from good to excellent. So, trust us, you don’t want to skip it!

When you finish your essay, take a break and then come back to it. Try reading it aloud, or even having someone else read it to you, and evaluate everything again. Was the introduction captivating enough? Does that sentence sound too confusing? Did you overuse a word? Make a note of everything you do not like and go back to fix it.

Except for the content, you should also pay close attention to any grammatical and spelling errors. Read it once, twice, ten times if you have to until you are happy with the results.

Have Someone Review Your Essay

Lastly, before you submit it, have someone else read and review the essay. A fresh pair of eyes who have not been working on the text for hours might notice some slips easier than you. Ask a professor, parent, college counselor, or friend for help. Then, make any necessary changes, and you can mark it complete.

Many students might have a GPA identical to yours, but if you truly dedicate yourself to writing an essay that is uniquely you, then you can set yourself apart from all the other candidates. Remember to take your time, be honest, and be creative. Give it your best shot today and you will help create a better tomorrow for yourself.

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