What makes a great college essay?

2 Answers

Some of the best essays I have read over the years are listed below:

The Plight of Height (A Female Prospective)

The Oldest of Four (With 3 Younger Sisters)

Hair Twirler I Am

Bipolar and Proud

My Legs are Moving Again!

Grandpa, I Love You

Violin for Five Year Olds

The C Word Doesn't Scare Me Anymore

Living Simply, No Facebook Page for Me

The college essay can make or break your application. Perhaps the essay will not be read when you first apply but when it comes down to you or another oh yes, those words will matter!

Selecting the topic for your essay can be difficult but if you enlist the aid of those that know you best, it can be a fun exercise in walking down memory lane. Ask your parents or siblings or cousins, if they can recall one really funny or life changing moment/event from your life. You would be surprised what people remember that you have not thought of in years. Although writing the actual essay can be just like doing another homework assignment it can also be an exercise in self-reflection.

Keep one thought in mind : Leave them laughing or shaking their head - in other words - picture an admissions rep. sitting at home sipping some tea trying desperately to get through reading all the applications assigned to them when all of a sudden they come across your essay and they are laughing or shaking their head in awe. Remember that admissions rep from two days before sipping tea at 10:00 at night trying to catch up on their work? You can be sure that will now they will have much to say about you when they present your application at the admissions review table.

*** One last essay I read you might relate to - young man was a referee for the township soccer team which found him on the field with youngsters between the ages of 6 and 10 - his essay spoke of one game where he found himself dealing with two little boys that were both crying - one was crying because he was being put out of the game for poor sportsmanship and the other, because he had missed a goal - this young man spoke of the incident and then, shared how he had to think quickly  helping one player feel better about themselves and the other, had to be disciplined - it was a wonderful essay that showed growth, compassion and clearly, a quick thinking!

Good Luck!

Jon Semcer Points3610
There are several types of essay questions. First, are the questions that you must answer in the space provided, You may have to write 2 - 3 of those for the application. What is the reader looking for here? To start they want to see if you followed the directions, did you provide an answer ( there is no right or wrong) that fits the questions and how about your writing style and usage is it clear ans easy to read? Highly selective schools will often ask for 2- 3 essay The second type of essay exercise is to give the student a list of topics and the student selects . The same holds true as the first type off essays in terms of what the reader is looking for. Be aware that each reader( often there will be a second reader- depending on the selectivity of the school will give you essay a score of some kind ( a number based on either a scale of 10, or 7 or even 5) The third essay is the open ended , where the student selects a topic and writes. What is important here is to understand that an well crafted essay will not be done in one weekend or perhaps even in one week. The operative words here are; write, rewrite and rewrite. The best writers of our times were never happy with the first draft of any writings they produced. Good essays reveal something about yourself that the application can not.The admission office is interested in learning as much as you as possible about you to see if you are a good fit. Here are tips to writing your best essays: 1. Follow directions --if the directions say in the space provided please do; 2. Write an outline out of your ideas on the topic ; 3. write a draft and let it sit for 2 - 3 days and then go back to it. You will amazed at how many changes you will make with a " fresh set of eyes".; 4.Let that second draft sit for a 2 days and review it again and make changes to usage , change paragraphs around or choice of words ( Ernest Hemingway once said, " It took me a while to get the words right") 5.Give the essay to someone who does not know you well-- a teacher you have never had in class, a counselor in the guidance department or an administrator in your school. ( ask for comments) ; 6 . make any corrections and pass along to your counselor for a final review. and a possible further rewrite. For topics, if you have an open ended essay or the school you are applying to does not require an essay, but you want to enclose one ( that is fine). select a topic that reveals your personality, your goals, an emotional experience ( death of a parent, a sibling or close relative) or something that has great meaning for you. Stay away from the following -- scoring the winning basket or goal, my summer in Paris, My favorite class ( unless you are asked to write on this), my family vacation to Disney World or something funny that happened to you ( while it was funny at the time it is often very difficult ,if not impossible, to recreate in words the event long after it happened. The best writers would struggle with recreating the mood of the event and be able to deliver an ending that "leaves them smiling or howling." Always write within your self - no " big ' words or complex sentences that might run on. You are telling a story to someone with your words so be clear be simple and be honest. Finally, some topics : The death of my grandmother, My first hair cut, Being cut from the golf team, My parents and their divorce, Living with a mentally ill parent, My first date, My disabled sister, Being the only child, How to start and run your own summer business, A Fire in my house, Living with one parent and three brothers, Why i have to work after school and Why the stuff in my closet is important to me. Everyone has something special about them or an event that impacted them or a person who influenced them. It's in there (your brain ) you just need to get it out by slowly writing and thinking; take you time, don't rush and rewrite. So, how important is the essay? Well, you can score positive points with it, but will the essay out weight your grades, your grade point average, the rank in class ( RIC), test scores or courses you scheduled? No.It a piece of the puzzle that admission offices need to have a clearer picture of " who is this person." Start early and you will be on the road to that good / great essay. Good luck!

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