Admission Essays

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That’s fine in academic work when you’re being asked to argue in support of a position, but in a personal essay, you want to express more nuanced thinking and explore your own clashing emotions. One of my favorites from when I worked in admissions at Duke University started out, “My car and I are a lot alike.” The writer then described a car that smelled like wet dog and went from 0 to 60 in, well, it never quite got to 60.

Another guy wrote about making kimchi with his mom.

Picture this before you plop yourself down in front of your computer to compose your college application essay: A winter-lit room is crammed with admissions professionals and harried faculty members who sit around a big table covered with files.

The admissions people, often young and underpaid, buzz with enthusiasm; the professors frequently pause to take off their glasses and rub their eyes.

Take a minute and think about the college or university admission officers who will be reading your essay.

How will your essay convey your background and what makes you unique?Some beginning writers think the present tense makes for more exciting reading.You’ll see this is a fallacy if you pay attention to how many suspenseful novels are written in past tense..Take advantage of being able to share something with an audience who knows nothing about you and is excited to learn what you have to offer. When you are finished writing, you need to make sure that your essay still adheres to the prompt.College essay questions often suggest one or two main ideas or topics of focus.One of the most common struggles students encounter is resisting the urge to squeeze everything they’ve seen, done, and heard into their essay.But your application essay isn’t your life story in 650 words.Instead, pick one moment in time and focus on telling the story behind it.Admission officers realize that writing doesn’t come easily to everyone, but with some time and planning, anyone can write a college application essay that stands out.One way to do that is to work step-by-step, piece-by-piece. Take time to understand the question or prompt being asked.The end result should be a carefully designed, insightful essay that makes you proud. The single most important part of your essay preparation may be simply making sure you truly understand the question or essay prompt.

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