Admission Essay Writing: How To Present Yourself

A college entrance essay is one of the most nerve-racking components to trying to getting into any institution. When filling out your essay, you want to be yourself, and be honest, but you also want to present yourself in a way that will make you desirable to a potential college or university. Unfortunately, it is hard to know what that means. It is hard to know exactly what it is that admissions directors are looking for in potential students that they accept. If you have worked hard making the grades you need, participated in the extracurricular activities you thought would help, the last thing you want to do is blow your chances with a simple essay. A college essay, however, is anything but simple.
There are some colleges and universities that will not require that you include an essay, but many in previous years have begun adding the requirement of an essay to weed through potential students. With so many different applicants vying for a position in the most prestigious schools, an essay sets the students apart from one another, and says a lot about who they are, what they want, and what they intend to do with their future. You don't want to present yourself as someone you're not, or pretend to be someone you aren't, but there are ways that you can exemplify your assets, and negate your negatives. Knowing what the assets are, and what aren't assets, is important when drafting an essay that can determine your future.

Why do colleges require admissions essays?

Reasons why colleges ask for you to write an essay may vary depending on the university, but the main reasons are that they want to get an understanding of who you are, what your strengths are, and overall, what you are capable of. Writing is a skill that not everyone has, and those who can do it, show a great proficiency in communication and a command of the English language, which is representative of their intelligence and ability to succeed in the future. Colleges are looking for America's finest, and using an essay to pinpoint exactly what a person is capable of, is a good subjective tool for them to evaluate a prospective student's academic prowess.
Although not the end all, be all, a college essay is like icing on a cake. If an admissions councilor is deciding between several applicants, those who have the most appropriate essays will win out the coveted space. Your academics and other qualifications will always be taken as first priority, but in the event that there are more people applying than space available, which is almost always the case, the essay can be the tipping point.

What do you want to include in your essay?

An essay should be subjective. It is meant to tell the story of who you are, and where you are going in life. The things that you want to include are:
  • Your hopes for the future
  • What you want to do with the education you obtain
  • What makes you different than the other applicants
  • What special skills you possess
  • What your background is, and how it will help you in the future
  • Correct grammar and spelling is imperative!
  • Anything about yourself that makes you special
  • How your life experience has prepared you for college
  • Any special accolades, or memberships that you have to an outside organization that you think is appropriate and why it is
  • Why you want to go to that particular institution
When writing an essay for any college application it should be specific to the school that you are applying for. Using an essay that is general to any college, does not show the councilor that you are really committed to the university, or that it is the right place for you. By describing why you want to go to that specific college or university, you are giving the admissions personnel a reason why you belong there.

What you should avoid in your college admission essay

  • An essay is not a resume, your transcripts will speak to your academic work. It is not the place to list your courses.
  • Don't use general language that is not specific to the university you are applying to
  • Make sure to reread it, proofread it, and proofread it over again
  • Stay away from cliches
  • Be yourself, not what you think they want you to be
  • Don't use hyperbolas, or exaggerated language
The most important part of the essay is to be real, and be yourself. You shouldn't be writing the essay considering what you should write about, you should be writing it considering what is important to you and why. Admissions councilors want to know about the real you, not the person that you think they want. Part of the essay process is choosing people who will fit best with the college or university, pretending to be someone you are not doesn't do anyone any favors.
A college essay is a tool that admissions councilors use to find potential students that fit best in the institution. You have worked very hard to get to where you are, and your academic performance will shine all on its own. It isn't going to either get you into the school or not, but may help the admissions councilor to choose between you and other applicants who are on the same academic level. Being honest, and real, will speak volumes about who you are and what you intend to take with you from college. Being specific about why you want to go to a certain college is important to make known. A generic college essay doesn't say anything about why you are choosing the college itself, or why you think you are a good fit for it.
Above all, when writing your college essay, think about what you think is the most important thing about yourself and what makes you special. Also, writing about what you want for the future and how an education will get you there, is a good way to give them a glimpse into who you are.

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