5 Tips for Presenting Yourself in an Application Essay
Who said applying to college was easy? First come the SATs, then the college visits, then the narrowing down of which schools to apply to, the coordination of the application deadlines and the application itself. Which includes the application essay. Gulp. An original piece of writing about you that’s going to make them say “Yes, let’s accept that kid!” How do you do it? Where do you even begin?
Take a deep breath, and remember that everyone else has to go through this, too. It’s not a unique form of torture designed especially for you. Just follow these tips and you’ll have an easier time than most presenting yourself in an awesome application essay:
Tell them about a passion or talent. What are you really really, good at? Are you a star athlete? Are you a writer? A painter? Do you sing, dance, play piano, design web programs in your spare time? Do you speak several languages? Are you a debate club champion? Do you volunteer at a homeless shelter or care for abandoned pets? Make the list. Include everything you can think of. Then look at it and choose one item from the list. Writing about something you excel at or feel passionately about should be easy. What do you enjoy about it? Choose a specific moment or give some highlights of your experiences in this field that are memorable to you.
Choose a challenge you’ve overcome. You could also choose to write about a challenge that you had to overcome. An unexpected illness, a death in the family, a disability you’ve had to learn to manage or juggling school work with a part-time job in order to help out at home. You can write about how you took this challenge, what the experience was like for you and what you got out of it in the end. What life lessons did you learn? How did it make you the person you are today?
Be funny, weird, controversial or unique…just don’t be boring. Hey, who said that admissions counselors were humorless people? Everyone likes to be entertained. Far too many application essays come off too stiff and too formal. Loosen up a little. If you have a natural talent for telling funny stories, use it. If you like to stir up debate over controversial issues, show it. If you have a strange intellectual fetish for studying medieval culinary techniques, talk about it. Just make sure you choose a topic that reflects a specific characteristic that you want to showcase yourself to a college admissions board. In other words, be daring, but use your discretion.
Don’t stray off topic. Choose a theme and stick with it. Don’t start to meander off into other areas. Keep your essay specific to one subject. A lot of students feel lost when it comes to choosing a subject and feel they need to talk about several different things. It’s the equivalent of nervous chatter during an interview. Have the confidence to choose one area to write about and stay with it. It will come off much stronger and more coherent to the admissions counselors reading it than if you tried to cover several different themes.
Be yourself. Talk in your own voice. Show your personality. The college application essay is your chance to tell the admissions counselors who you are. What are your talents and dreams? What are you made of? What kind of personality, sense of humor, zeal or passion do you possess? The SATs and your academic records tell them what you know. The application essay is your chance to tell them who you are. Don’t use a mask that’s more serious or formal than you actually are. It will sound fake and won’t give the reader the opportunity to get to know you, which is the entire point of the application essay. If you nail this, you’ll be given extra points for having the courage to be yourself.
You don’t have to dread the application essay. Everyone can find a topic that comes from their heart. Be courageous and be yourself.
By Steve Aedy, dedicated writers and content manager at http://www.freshessays.com/. He loves to provide students and young writers with useful tips for creating better essays, research papers and resumes. Follow him on Twitter.