Tips For Writing College Admissions Essays

A typical college essay topic goes something like this: “Evaluate a significant experience, achievement risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you,” or “Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.”  Here’s how to break it down — and maybe even discover something about yourself and have fun along the way!

–   Select a strong topic by brainstorming and discussion with friends and family.

–   Imagine you are writing to a specific person, rather than an unknown admissions officer.

–   Write an effective introduction.

–   Add dialogue.

–   Use description.

–   Step outside the narrative to emphasize the significance of the topic and lessons learned.

–   Make connections with outside texts, events, or ideas.

–   Write an effective conclusion.

For sample models of successful college admissions essays; see this website with critiques.

–   Ask a teacher to proof-read your essays to receive feedback and revision suggestions.

–   Allow yourself time to draft, review, and polish college admissions essays.

Adapted from “Demystifying College” by Jessica Singer Early and Meredith DeCosta-Smith in Educational Leadership, November 2010 (Vol. 68, #3, online only),

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