College Admissions Expert Elizabeth Levine: College Essay


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  • Elizabeth Levine



How do I go about writing my college essay?

Writing your college essay is one of the most difficult documents you will write in your lifetime. Why is this? So much is on the line. You are applying to college's that will define the next four years of your life. You are also writing about yourself, which is never an easy topic and extremely personal. In addition, selecting the topic is excruciating and after all, you're really not that interesting, are you? You haven't done great things in your life as so many other high school seniors have. STOP! Forget about thinking that you are not interesting! Some of the best college essays are about the most mundane and simplest things in life.

Why do most college's require an essay as part of their application? This one is simple. It makes you human. In a file full of numbers, grades, standardized test scores and lists of activities, this is the one piece that allows you to give the admissions officer insight to who you are. Although it is the most difficult part of the application process it is a positive step to helping your cause in gaining acceptance to your college of choice, if done properly.

Trying to figure out what college admissions officers want to see in an essay is like trying to find a needle in a haystack but there are some rules of thumb that could be useful to follow:

Don't:

+ Repeat your accomplishments that have been outlined in your application
+ Have someone else write it for you!!! That is unethical and misrepresents who you are. In addition, the admissions officer knows when an essay is written by someone other than the student. Trust me on this one
+ Write about your great trip to Africa and how you helped the poor people of that country. Keep away from the “cliché” essay
+ Go on about how great you are. I can assure you this will turn off the admissions officer that is reading your essay

Do:

+ Have complete ownership over your essay
+ Have someone look it over for accuracy and flow
+ Work at the process. This is a labor of love and takes time to pull together
+ Start way ahead of time, giving yourself several weeks to write and edit your essay
+ Put your essay aside for a day or 2 and then go back to it to review with fresh eyes. You will be surprised by what you will see
+ Write about a very small point in time in your life and when I say small, I mean short, as in a day, 30 minutes, an hour....You get my point
+ Possibly start with a time that involves some kind of problem (crisis, accident, challenge, failure, change, obstacle, personal flaw, phobia, mistake….etc.)
+ If you can, include a lesson that you've learned
+ Stick to the minimum and maximum number of words that are outlined. This is very important since if you don't it will distinctly show that you can't follow instruction, which will not reflect well on you
+ Write like you speak (yet still being grammatically correct) and avoid the standard 5 paragraph essay you learned in English

There's no magic formula to writing a college essay. It is as personal is it gets. Do understand who your audience is; a college admissions officer who is reading thousands of essays. Be concise, to the point, tell a story, be personal and be yourself. Make the reader feel as though they were there with you.

I am sure you are thinking after reading this “Did she really answer my question about how to write my college essay?” I'm hoping I have given you a sneak peak and some good tips but in reality every essay is as unique as the person it is being written about.

If you have any questions about the college admissions process or the above information please do not hesitate to contact me at info@signaturecollegecounseling.com or by phone, 845.551.6946.

Elizabeth Levine
Signature College Counseling is an Orange County, Hudson Valley based company
that works one on one with students and their families in navigating the admissions process so you attend the college that is right for you.
845.551.6946
Ask The College Admissions Expert a Question
www.signaturecollegecounseling.com

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