College Convo: How to write a great college essay or personal statement

Your essays are vital aspects of your college application. They give admissions officers a feel of your voice, your likes, dislikes, and what would make you a great candidate for their university. The essays aren't so much about being verbose, but are actually about representing yourself, in a unique, genuine fashion. In American college admissions, the essays could even be worth up to half of your application, while other admissions value it a bit less. Whatever the value may be, there will always be a better chance of admission for someone who can show who they really are on paper. With that said, what makes a good college essay?

Here are some answers:

  1. Be real

Don't try to dig up the cliche stories about how someone died and it impacted your life, and all the other 'inspirational ones'. Admissions officers aren't looking for inspiration. They get enough of that from podcasts. Instead, try and be genuine with your story. If it is a death that changed you, be specific. How exactly did it affect you? How did it truly make you who you are now? Furthermore, there must be something unique about your story because it is YOUR story. Show them that it is truly you that is coming out through the words. Don't choke up the beautiful roses of your garden story with weeds of verbosity. It doesn't sound interesting, and the officers will probably read at least 50 other essays like this.

2. Have a great start

The start of your essay will set the tone for how the rest of what you write will be interpreted. Don't get in the habit of putting your strong-pointslast. In this case, put them first. Start your essay with a bang, and end it with a bang. If there is any point that has to be boring, or wordy, leave that for the middle. But ensure your first and last paragraphs give their due poetic justice.

3. Vary your sentences

Long, run-on sentences don't make you seem more intelligent. In fact, it just makes your work more tedious to read. Let's compare two examples. “I hear him. His footsteps they pound against the concrete floors. Boom. Boom. Boom! They get louder until they become a crescendo of thuds, seemingly causing earthquakes with every step. I am scared”. Now listen to this one. “I can hear his footsteps getting louder and my heart is beating fast as I can hear the thuds getting closer. I am so scared as I hear the booming sounds almost as if the steps are causing earthquakes every time they are made.” You can decide which sounds better.

4. Use colourful words

No! Don't curse. I mean use words that can properly portray how you feel. Don't be afraid to google synonyms as long as you actually know what the word means. Please don't add words like plethora and cornucopia to sound smart. You will just sound fake. Like really fake. Use simple, effective words that represent your voice. Forget the therefore and furthermore for these. Use other, simpler words to link your paragraphs.

5. Show what happened don't just tell

What this means is that you're gonna paint the picture of the events you're writing about. How did you feel? What did you smell? Were you sweating? Put us in the scenario, don't just tell us the scenario happened.

6. Answer the prompt

While trying to be all creative and colourful, remember that you were asked the specific question for a particular reason. Be sure that you are actually answering the prompt given and not going off on a tangent in your essays.

-- Fabrizio Darby





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