Be yourself – You have experiences, thoughts, and opinions that are unique to you. So why not showcase them? This way, you get to distinguish yourself from other applicants and have a chance to stand out. That being said, you don’t have to write about every single extracurricular experience or achievement – those are already listed in your resume. Be authentic, down to earth, and the admissions officer will see something special in you.
Understand the topic – Read the topic once, then a couple more times. If you want, divide it into a few parts, and try to analyze what the admissions officer is asking from you; how does this relate to your achievements, your experiences, and what you have learned in the classroom? How can you impress the reader? Make sure you address all parts of the essay and weave them well together – you don’t want a chunky, incoherent essay to submit.
Plan your essay – The key to a successful endeavor is the planning. After you understand all parts of the essay topic, write down what all is being asked and brainstorm points that you would want to write about. Since it doesn’t take a lot of time and saves a lot of frustration and panic as you approach the application deadline, this part should definitely not be skipped. Make an outline of which points you are going to incorporate in the body of your essay and don’t forget examples and personal anecdotes.
Don’t over-exaggerate – There’s no point lying about your awards and accolades if you can’t back them up with real evidence. You might even be asked to talk about it during your admissions interview. If the admissions officers doubt the authenticity of your statements, they are likely to scrutinize your work more thoroughly. Giving yourself an inflated reputation will only cause trouble for you in the future.
Know your vocabulary – Students have a tendency to use a thesaurus to find words that sound sophisticated and use them in their essays. Hence, it may happen that the word is not used in the correct way i.e. it does not completely fit with the context. Use words you understand the meaning and correct usage of. Using a thesaurus is still a good idea, but do not pick words mindlessly. Instead, understand the context in which a word is used and make sure it fits well within your essay. Too many uncommon words would make your essay sound funny and may not be appealing to the admissions officer.
Keep it short – Many universities have a minimum word count for submission, and some may not have a maximum. This does not mean you write 10 pages on your summer internship. Remember: quality over quantity! Admissions officers are reading through thousands of essays, so when they see a long piece of writing, it already reflects negatively on you. Keep your essay to 500 to 700 words and do not go over 1000 words. Avoid using complex sentences to convey your thoughts and keep the account of your experiences succinct.
Don’t just recount, reflect as well – You could use your word count describing a sports game in which you made the most important move that brought victory to your team. But what does that really tell the person reading your essay? The purpose of these essays is for you to reflect, analyze, and pen your thoughts. Don’t spend the word count on just reciting an experience. The majority of your essay should be how the experience has helped you grow as a person.
Proofread – Once you are done with your first draft, take a break, and then read it over. Run the essay through a spelling and grammar check, and make sure you have covered all the points. Also, do not hesitate to show you essay to others for suggestions to improve. Your parents, your guidance counselor, and your English teacher can help you make sure your essay is stellar and showcases your strengths. It is advisable to limit the proofreaders to two or three people who are experienced in the admissions process.
Relax before you start – You think more clearly with a stress-free mind. Even though your essay is a fundamental part of your application, it’s not the only part. Remember that the admissions office looks at your application as a whole. Your transcripts, recommendations, extracurricular activities, awards, and anything else that you’ve supplied in your application get reviewed by the office before they make a decision. Make your essay as precise, organized, and unique as you can – but don’t spend too much time stressing about it.
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