How to - The College Admissions Essay

Essay Topic
From my knowledge and previous experience, a topic or general prompt will be usually provided. It is much more difficult for college admissions staff to compare and judge completely dissimilar essays than it is similar essays. Therefore, prompts are given to make the lives of college admissions staff easier!
If a prompt is not specific, write about something you feel comfortable and knowledgeable about. Also, think of what admissions personnel is looking for. This often includes leadership demonstration, work or volunteer experience, and/or an activity relating to your field of study. I would not recommend writing on the subject of academia, as your GPA, class rank, and test scores fill that area.
Where Do I Start?
Anywhere! The most difficult portions of essays is often the introduction and conclusion. Once you have your ideas on paper (or your screen), it is much easier to manipulate your existing ideas to form a solid, logical paper.
I often have 10 to 20 "mini" paragraphs, which I then form into larger portions and, finally, a cohesive essay.
Writing Tips
Don't Be Boring!
1.The college admissions staff reads thousands of papers per day. Your admissions essay is not the place to be mundane and typical. Especially if you are on the border (GPA, class rank, and test score wise), your essay must be extremely effective and exciting.
2. If you can write about an emotional experience, may it be saddening, frightening, or action-packed, please do so! It will capture the readers attention and give your paper longer than the average minuet or two.
3. Convey your feelings to the reader! If you were crying tears of joy, your goal should be to have the admissions reader excited and jumping out of their chair!
1. As stated in my previous post, have your own style. You have been writing for about 10 years now, and you should have a definitive, catchy style to your writing. Vary sentence structure and word choice.
2. On the note of word choice: Your essay should not be the annual gathering of large words! Don't hear me wrong, whenever I am writing an essay, I always have thesaurus up. They are great to find the word on the tip of your tongue or just to add some variety.
*On a side note, my favorite are MSN Thesaurus and They both offer a different variety of word choices.
3. More is not always better. Be concise and to the point. Wordiness can cause boredom and lose attention of your reader.
Follow The Prompt
1. Answer the darn question! Don't ramble on and write an autobiography if the question is "How will ___ College help fulfill your dreams?"
Get Assistance
1. It is highly encouraged that you ask for a read over from, at minimum, your parents and siblings. Having a teacher or other mentor give their input can also be quite helpful.
2. Although I have not personally used an essay service, many applicants are using them to receive (what some argue) is an unfair advantage. Personally, I had three high school teachers and my mother read my essays. I was accepted to the University of Illinois, so I must have done something right...
*If you insist on having a professional opinion, or want that extra advantage. I have heard EssayEdge does a bang-up job. The founder, Geoffrey Cook, also wrote Yahoo's article on admissions essays.
3. You can never have too many opinions! If you don't agree with what someone suggests, even after an explanation, just smile, nod, and ditch their suggestion!
Don't Panic
1. Take your time, and get ideas on paper. Like I stated earlier, it does not matter what order or way the information is lied out. Just get it on paper, and your life will become much easier!
2. Walk away from your essay and come back in a couple hours or a couple days, depending on your time constraint.
3. Don't wait till the last minute! Get a jump start and work on your essays longer than your competition (other applicants!).
Be an AppliCAN, Not an AppliCAN'T!
*As cheesy as this sounds, I know many peers of mine didn't apply themselves, get good grades, apply to top schools, and write solid essays. All because they where not confidant and saw themselves as appliCAN'Ts! You are reading this blog, and by doing so, you are becoming an appliCAN!
My name is Parker Jendrycki and my goal is to provide prospective students with knowledge they will use in the time leading up to, and throughout their college experience. I am currently a freshman attending the University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign studying under the Division of General Studies.