People loved my college essay and during and after I wrote it, it brought me to a deluge of tears. I don’t know why, because I happen to think now that it is one of the worst things I have ever written…well, maybe not the worst, but close. Anyway, I and others liked it at the time. I also truly believe that it was my college essay that got me into college. Were it not for the strength of the writing in that essay, I don’t think that my high school grades would have been strong enough for me to gain entry. But from that experience, I think I learned a few things about writing an essay that will sell you.
First, it is important to factor in a few things. Remember that depending on the institution to which you are applying, you will either have free reign to write an essay or you will be asked to write an essay on a specific question. If you are lucky enough to be given a choice, then I think the tips are easier. First, choose a topic or experience that you know well enough to write more than a paragraph on. My experience with young writers is that they are assigned something to write about and they write very briefly. This is most likely because they need to strengthen their writing or they have no confidence in their writing ability at all. So, choose something that you can expand on. Secondly, I think it is vital that your topic be one that showcases something personal about you. College admissions officers are in a lot of cases looking to get to know the entrants so that they can create a good mix for the entering class. They want to know that each person is a nice balance with the others that they have selected. So you should let as much of you shine in the essay as possible.
As far as good topic choices, I think a free topic should address a way in which you have been of positive service or a way in which your presence can benefit the campus and the members of its community. Though it is a good idea to reveal your essence as much as possible, be sure that the writing style is clear and well done. Being personal is not an excuse for sloppiness or bad presentation.
If the college or university would like you to answer a specific question or address a specific topic, answer it fully. Think carefully before you pen your final response and consider an angle that is original, relevant, and comprehensive. When you are called upon to answer a particular question, your job is harder. Everyone is asked to answer the same questions, so you have to stand out in some way. It is a lot easier to stand out as an individual when you can choose your own topic. But the task is still not impossible in a more structured question. If asked one specific question, be direct. Avoid the tendency to ramble. Showcase as much as possible your ability to write tightly and well.