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ApplicationEssay

Focus Your Essay on You

By September 24, 2013 No Comments

1Writing the college essay, for many students, is a daunting task. I’ve talked a few times about what to include and how to go about writing these essays. But, as I continue to work with many, many students on their essays, a common theme emerges every year.

Students are often thinking about word limits. 500, 650, 250 words to get down on paper something… anything. But, the idea is not to hit the limit (or stay under it). The goal is to project to the reader (the person deciding your admissions fate) something about you that is authentic and meaningful.

When picking a topic, a lot of students will choose something that is in fact meaningful to them. Where they go wrong is in defining in what way that experience was important. Do you like to coach kids because you yourself had a great coach and want to have that kind of influence on others? Was your solo performance in the school choir a result of years of growing out of your shell, both on stage and off? What does your role in your house mean for how you plan to run your own home; how has that role influenced you outside of the house?

There are many tips that I give students when writing essays. Each tip relates to a certain part of the writing process (and I will probably go into more detail in the upcoming weeks). But, all of those “tips” and suggestions are meaningless without students focusing the story that speaks to who they are as people. Of course, you cannot hit on every part of your personality or interests or growth. But, in that one essay, help the admissions officer understand one significant piece.