After all the extra work you must put in during the final year of highschool, you must really encourage yourself to also sit down and work on the essay that you have been putting off for so long!
Yes, the essay that you must send to the university admission officers! And you know you are expected to summarize the last almost-two-decades of your life into paper, which must certainly stand out against thousands and thousands of other candidates.
It is easy to get overwhelmed and panicked and start to run in circles! But, the tips below will clear a bit of the haze and help you leap to ‘accepted’ status:
- Mind the instructions
Every single word written in the instructions of the application is important and is there for a reason. You may be exhausted of the similar directions in the applications of all the universities you have applied to – but it is a must to follow them!
- Do read the success stories
Read the essays that have worked in the previous years! The letters are not from Shakespeare, but they are pieces of a person’s life that the admissions officer will not put down!
Whenever you feel like you have got the topic, sit down and write from your heart for an hour at the most! It will definitely not take longer!
Then, show the essay to someone whose opinion you value! Afterwards, take a few days away from it only to come back once to edit and send! That’s right – do not keep reading it as it will only drive you nuts!
- Write here what you can’t in your application
The universities do not have the time to research every applying student, so make sure you do put something in front of them that will make connecting the dots possible. Imagine you are sitting next to the admissions officer and responding the questions. That’s what your essay should reflect!
- Stick to your clear essay plan
After having read millions of examples of successful essays, and the ideas you have laid out to present – now make a plan and be concise with it! Write about one subject at a time in the maximum allowed number of words, without trying to cover everything in your life here. Organize it in the three parts: introduction, body, and the conclusion!
- Give a rocking introduction
You can start with an anecdote – engage your reader from the very beginning! Start by sharing a moment that will naturally grab the attention and involve them in the story!
Think outside the typical opening catchy first liners! Focus on revealing your character and personality. Think of doing that through your introductory anecdote. Show how it has shaped you into the person you are and the person you will be.
- Embrace the Admission Officer persona
It is a great aspect to think about and understand that it is important for the universities to have students that will graduate and become influencing personalities in the world and then have exactly the university enjoy the association. So incorporate the side of you that thinks critically, loves to learn, and has a deep passion for particular things, whatever those things are.
- NO! trying too hard allowed
This is one of those mistakes that is always present in spite of all the people that have been repeating this same old sentence ‘Stop trying so hard’. Trying hard to impress will get you further down the list. The beauty lies in the everyday subjects!
The admissions officers have been reading too much of the same dough – the time when you had a spectacular moment for yourself and the team and winning this specific game and what it meant for you and the community! Get creative, really!
And please do not try to sound like you are the reincarnation of Shakespeare! Plus, you’re only 18!
- Write only about what matters to you
Do not try to understand what would matter to your admission’s officers. Just focus on what matters to you. Authenticity and thought quality is what the admissions officers are after. There you have it!
Anything can be the perfect topic – as long as you are capable of showing how you think, your logic, and your ability to keep your reader’s attention! Think about what you would say if you had the chance to meet them and talk to them for 10 minutes in person.
- Stop with the synonyms
In your personal essay, write only how you would speak! The act of showing your repertoire of words will be required for another portion of the application!
You do not want to create any unnatural feelings or distance between you and the reader! It is a document of the self, after all…
- Be yourself
Yes, the usual – BE YOURSELF! – quote! Roughing up your background will not win you the cause!
The most important thing is how you frame your topic and what you have to say, regardless whether the topic involves the mundane!
The essay is supposed to reveal a glimpse into your mind, your view of the world and your perspective! It is okay if you have never had an earth-shattering experience that has rocked your world!
Be vivid and a bit controversial in your writing – so that it does not come out as a bland essay without a stand! Do not pretend you have the final truth, whatsoever! Colleges are here for the discussion of ideas and that’s what matters in your essay, too! And be cautious in your use of humor, if you must use it!
Good luck 🙂
Any experience or job in your life can make a great essay! This student wrote about interacting with various characters at her job at a drive-thru window and how that helped form portals to other peoples’ worlds outside of her own.
The drive-thru monitor on the wall quietly clicks whenever a person pulls up to the menu screen. It’s so subtle I didn’t notice it my first two months working at Freddy’s, the retro fast-food restaurant looming over Fairfax’s clogged stretch of Route 50. But, after months of giving out greasy burgers, I have become attuned to it. Now, from the cacophony of kitchen clangs I can easily pick out that click which transports me from my world of fry oil into the lives of those waiting in the drive-thru.
A languid male voice drifts into my ear. He orders tenders, with a side of cheese sauce. “How much cheese sauce is in a cup?” he frets, concerned over the associated 80 cent charge. The answer is two ounces, and he is right to worry. It’s a rip-off.
After I answer him, my headset goes quiet for a second. Finally, his voice crackles through.
“Do you sell cheese sauce by the gallon?”
A man orders two steakburgers and two pints of custard.
Minutes later, he reaches my window. I lean out to take his credit card, only to meet the warm tongue of a wizened dog.
The man apologizes: “She just loves your restaurant.”
I look at the dog, her nose stretching out of the car and resting on the window ledge, then look at the order he had given me.
Once I hand him his food, the dog sniffs one of the pints.
“No!” he reprimands. “Only after you eat your dinner.”
He sets a burger between her paws, then speeds away.
I can’t understand the order, but I know that whoever is speaking is from New Jersey. Tommy, pronounced “Tahmee”, apparently has high blood pressure. He orders fries.
“No!” the woman screeches. “No salt!”
They pull up to the window. The man, clad in a Hawaiian shirt, thrusts a crumpled wad of cash in my hand.
The women pushes him back. “Sorry!” she apologizes, “But we’re lost! Never been to Virginia before - we’re trying to find Lynchburg!”
It is 10:45 PM, and Lynchburg is three hours away. We give them an extra side of fries (no salt of course) and directions to a nearby hotel.
For these brief moments, I am part of their lives: in their cars, they are at home. They are surrounded by their trash and listening to their music, dancing with their friends and crying alone, oblivious to the stranger taking their order. On the surface, these people are wildly different; they range from babies clad in Dolphin’s jerseys (“Her first pre-game party!”) to grandmothers out for ladies’ night; college students looking for a cheese sauce fix to parents on a dieting kick (“Chicken sandwich on a lettuce wrap”). But, despite every contrasting characteristic, they all ended up in the same place: my drive-thru, my portal to their worlds.
*Click* It’s a family, squished into a little car. When I hand them their bags, they happily open them and devour the food. The mother asks me for extra napkins, forks, and knives.
“We just moved,” she explains. “And everything is still in boxes.”
I moved a lot as a child, so I know what they’re going through. I give them an entire pack of utensils.
As the car leaves, the kids in the backseat press their faces against the car window and wave. I wave back as the car slowly makes it way toward 50. New to the area, they have yet to adopt the hurried rush that comes with the proximity to DC.
Customers like these help me realize I am not just a passive traveller in this drive-thru - I do not just watch and observe. I laugh and I help and I talk with them, if only for a few moments. They tell me about their lives, and I mention stories from mine. Over my hundreds of hours behind the drive-thru window, thousands of different people have come through, sharing snippets of their diverse lives. All they have in common when they come in is the desire for greasy fast food. However, by the time they leave, they share something else: a nugget of my life.
The drive-thru portal takes me to disparate places; to Lynchburg, to the grocery store to buy cheese sauce, to a new home filled with opportunity and cardboard boxes. It transports me back to my room, where I hug my dog and feed her chicken and treats. It is a portal to the world, hidden in the corner of a fast-food kitchen.
With each click, that door opens. (764)