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After working with students for years on college application essays, I have noticed trends in writing styles, topics and themes. Students are typically either very humble or oddly boastful in their essays. They also tend to use shortcuts to get their point across: the clearest example is the chronological essay (think “when I was five….  then when I was eight…. finally, when I turned fourteen…”). Over the years I have developed some specific tips to help students with their essays. I share them below:

Strategy 1: Don’t Try Too Hard

  • Topic Selection – It is unnecessary to choose a topic that you believe the admissions officers will find extraordinary. Writing about your home cooking or fishing with your grandfather are topics, which can make for excellent essays if you are passionate about telling the story.
  • Writing Style – You should sound like yourself in your essay; you should sound like a 17-year-old. You do not need to take simple, but colorful details and sum them up using advanced vocabulary you may include in your analysis of 18th Century literature class. This is an essay about you, your life and your experiences, which means the language and writing style should reflect that.

Strategy 2: “Show, Don’t Tell”

Details are the key to the essay. Almost anyone could have had the experience you may be describing, but none of them would be able to tell it exactly the same as you. It is therefore incredibly important to include as many details as possible in your story. Make sure nobody else could possibly tell your story by adding enough details so as to truly take ownership of it.

Strategy 3: Stay Away from Cliché

This is the most common error we see in essay writing. Students, for some reason, believe that they have to have some life-changing experience in their essay. Or, they need to mention how this experience has helped them develop. Yes, these are good things for essays, but they do not need to be explicitly stated. If you are not trying to impress and you use enough detail, the personal development should be apparent to the reader.

Check out the essay editing services offered by Galin Education by clicking here and make sure that writing really shines.

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