Tips & Tricks for College Admissions Essays

With over two million yearly applicants to American colleges and universities, it is imperative that a student’s college admissions essays are near perfection in order to be competitive at the top institutions. Admission essays are a means to distinguish a candidate from other equally-qualified applicants. Let’s face it; there are several students with high GPA’s who played varsity sports and were in the National Honor Society. College admission offices need to see a reason why a particular student is a step above his or her peer group, and it can be easily accomplished through excellent admission essays.

1. Answer the Question.

The number one mistake as noted by college admission offices is that students fail to answer the question. Seems simple, right? Yes, but many applicants attempt to stretch an example that often leads to an entirely different topic. Be direct, succinct, and don’t overcomplicate the response. Answer the question.

2. Create a Logical Reponse.

While it is tempting for many candidates to simply start writing, it is important to approach an admission essay just like any other academic work. Create a brief outline and structure for the essay before actually writing. This organization of thought will develop a logical approach to answering the question being asked. Additionally, use transitions to build this logical order and keep the reader aligned with the essay’s structure.

3. Start and End Strong.

After creating a plan for the structure of the essay, work diligently to create strong opening and closing paragraphs. Without question, these are the two most important paragraphs of the essay. The introduction should immediately capture the reader’s attention. Use an anecdote or other “attention-getter” to achieve this objective and to stand out from other applicants. In the same way, the closing paragraph should be as equally enlightening to leave the reader with a positive perspective.

4. Simplicity is Paramount.

Finally, keep the admission essay simple. While many students learn many vocabulary words for the SAT or ACT, this is not the time to use them all in one 500 or 1000 word essay. It is unnatural, and it will be a strong signal to the admission office that you are only trying to include vocabulary words as a means to impress, not to communicate. Write naturally, keep it simple, and once again, answer the question!

Indeed, college admission essays can be daunting. However, a structured, grammatically-correct, and simple essay can be the difference in being accepted into the nation’s top colleges and universities. Use as an additional resource for college admission essay editing before submitting.

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