college-application-essay-tipsThe recent news story about high school senior Kwasi Enin who was admitted to all 12 of the colleges he applied to, including 7 ivy league schools, has sparked much discussion about college application essay tips that work. As the application essay introduces you to the college admissions board, it may be the most important writing you do in your college career. You should be prepared to address the assigned topic with honest, well-written and grammatically correct prose that is wholly your own and highlights your intellectual abilities and personality.

Plan, Then Write

One easy mistake is to begin scripting a masterpiece without a master plan, and thus fail to deal coherently with the assigned topic. Begin by brainstorming or free writing around the given topic to get your ideas on paper and then build an outline of the most relevant points. Your refined outline is the blueprint for your essay. For brainstorming strategies, see DailyWritingTips.com’s thorough description of this key writing tool.

Stand Up and Stand Out

Remember that your essay will be read by someone who will read 499 more essays before their day is done. It is a good idea to keep your essay short and concise, and show your individuality with specific ideas that you hold important.

Being controversial is good in this kind of essay because it demonstrates not only your values, but also the quality of your thinking and sets you apart from the carefully non-opinionated crowd.

Avoid a dreary list of your accomplishments, but choose those that best relate to the story your essay is telling and leave the rest for the places in the application where they belong. Highlighting only a few of your more compelling achievements will indicate not only your accomplishments, but also that you have the flexibility and discernment to stay focused on what is important. Kwasi Enin wrote about how a lifelong study of music has expanded his intellectual horizons and helped him learn about leadership and community, obviously themes that resonated with the college admissions officers who read his essay. Take the time to write about something you are equally passionate about; it is that passion that will help you to stand out from other equally qualified applicants.

It’s all about the Mechanics

Once you have completed your draft, let it sit overnight and then proofread. A number of methods will highlight problem areas. For instance, reading the essay aloud and backwards, last sentence first, will help you see places where points are insufficiently supported or grammatical problems obscure meaning. Reading your essay aloud to someone who will give you an honest reaction is also a good way to test for coherence.

Begin constructing your formal essay, remembering that admissions officers are looking for your skills as both a thinker and a writer, so good grammar, correct punctuation and a mature style will all work in your favor.

Finally, though for some this may be a given, do not plagiarize material from any source. Many people feel that if they pull something off the web it is perfectly acceptable to use it as their own words. However, it is obvious to the reader when style is not internally consistent and because plagiarism is a question of dishonesty, such an ethical faux pas might be what keeps you out of the colleges you have chosen. There are a number of plagiarism checkers online, although many will ask for a nominal fee. One free checker that gives good results is PlagScan.com.

You are your own best advertisement, so following some simple college application essay tips will ensure that you have the best promotional materials possible. Take a page from Kwasi Enin’s book and write about what really makes you curious and enthusiastic about learning and you will be a long way down the road to admissions success. Keeping your essay concise, sticking to your points, standing up for your perspective, making sure to proofread and refraining from plagiarism are all strategies that will produce a successful essay.

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