Questions to ask when writing a college essay

What are some do's and don'ts for the admissions essay?

This is a process we call the Backwards Brainstorm, and you can learn more about it here.

What to Write in a College Essay

What matters is the story you want to tell. And that you floss at least every other day—trust us, it will pay off in the long run. We are as sure as ever that every single one of you has a valuable story or two or twelve! All it takes is ample time for reflection and a little writerly elbow grease to find it. So take a peek at what the application has in store for you, absorb what these prompts are really asking, and then forget about them really!

What about your history, personality, hobbies, or accomplishments might be worth highlighting for an admissions officer? It can be something as small as seeing an episode of a television show are you living life in the Upside Down? We have always believed that essays about overcoming obstacles are most effective when they focus more on solutions than problems. Applicants should aim to showcase qualities like resilience, determination, and humility. The obstacles you choose to explore can vary widely in nature, especially with the recent additions that allow students to explore challenges and setbacks in addition to failures.

They can be as serious as being tormented by bullies, as ingrained as the financial issues that have plagued your family for years, or as seemingly pedestrian as a mistake that costs you a tip while waiting tables. Still, if you can isolate an incident of trial in your life and illustrate how you learned from it, this can be a rewarding prompt to explore. Overall, try to keep these stories as positive as possible.

This prompt requires a student to speak passionately about beliefs and ideology, which are often onerous subjects that can be difficult to mold into compact stories. It can be one of the hardest questions to steer in a positive, productive direction without traveling into preachy, overly didactic territory. This is also a more precarious prompt than most in that students need to carefully assess the risks of espousing beliefs that might be polarizing for the readers of their applications. Applicants who can articulate their thoughts and feelings while showcasing malleability and willingness to thoughtfully consider the ideas of others will likely stand out as valuable additions to any campus.

If this prompt jumps out at you because you have a very specific story to tell or opinion to voice, run with it! Your essay does not have to be focused around a fundamentally serious or groundbreaking issue see the horror genre example above. What matters most when responding to this prompt is that you have strong convictions about the belief or idea you are trying to convey, and that you examine the personal effects of this ethos on your life and world. For this reason, Prompt 3 can be a great vehicle for showcasing your consideration, persuasive skills, and passions to admissions.

We love Prompt 4, which asks students to talk about a problem and how they have solved or are planning to solve it. Students should think about everything from more traditional obstacles they have had to overcome to the small predicaments that have inspired them to think about what they really value. Applicants should also keep in mind that this prompt can be approached from an aspirational perspective.

Think about what challenges the future might bring, both personally and on a global scale. How might you be part of meaningful progress and problem-solving moving forward? It is important that the problem you choose is linked to your life and world in a meaningful way. The whole purpose of this exercise is to reveal something valuable about yourself to admissions, so be sure to link the problem you highlight to your passions, actions, or aspirations.

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Ask others the same questions. On my college essay I fudged on a little detail that I thought would make me look better. I wish I had written an essay I could have been proud of. Do: write your essay Don't: have someone else write it for you. Do: write about a topic of interest or special appeal to YOU.

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Don't: write what you think "they" want to hear. Do: be honest. Don't: be overly "clever". In short, make sure your ideas are your own. This is a personal essay. Stay on topic and don't get sidetracked by too many ideas. Come up with ways or examples to express your topic without sounding negative, angry, "cute", too eager to please.

Don't rely on cliches, but don't use a thesaurus in an effort to sound too sophisticated. And once you write your draft, don't fall in love with it! Have someone you trust look at your ideas and accept constructive feedback to improve your work. You are putting your best foot forward! Do tell a story in an interesting and engaging way.

5 Questions Seniors Are Asking About the College Essay

Don't just relay the facts, but pretend you are sitting in a coffee shop talking to a friend. Don't repeat what is found elsewhere in your application, unless you're adding pertinent information to round it out. Do be yourself. Do write in your own style and using your own words. Don't steal an essay from the internet. Don't let someone else write it for you. Take the time to make sure your essay is something you're proud of.

8 Questions Your College Essay Should Answer

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Application Process Our counselors answered: What are some do's and don'ts for the admissions essay? Joseph Tavares. What are some do's and don'ts for the admissions essay? Margaret Tung Strategist Yale University. Mary Mariani. Martin Rogers. Barak Rosenbloom College essay mentor, guide and editor essaymentors.

Prepare yourself--plan your admissions essays in advance.

Your college essay should reflect your opinions and experiences and display clear and A cardinal rule of good writing is: Show, don't tell. Questions to Ask Yourself To Determine Your College App Essay Topic Writing down strengths like a resume is cliche, so why not put a twist on it? What's a.

Make it an essay you're proud of The big on is take your time. Eileen Ed.

Associate Director Educational Directions, Inc. Janet Elfers.

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