Tips for Writing College Application Essays

As we all know, writing essays is an essential and entirely unavoidable part of applying to colleges and scholarships. With the conflicting knowledge and the lack of instruction when filling out applications, one can be left feeling in the dark when it comes to writing answers to the essay questions require.

But if you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be writing great essay answers effortlessly in no time!

  • Keep it simple

While flowery language and in depth analyses may impress your English teacher, most admissions officers don’t want to read your best prose. Keep it simple – but don’t dumb it down. You can (and should) still use vocabulary that sounds intelligent and shows off your language skills, but you don’t want to sound like you used a Thesaurus for every word (Friends reference, anyone?).

On another note, most application essays have strict word count limits. Keeping your information short, sweet, and to the point. This way you’ll avoid going over the limit (which can sometimes cause your application to be thrown out automatically).

  • Answer the whole question.

This may seem like something that shouldn’t need to be said, however it’s crucial to read the entire writing prompt for your essay and to fully answer and explain all the parts of the question or prompt that you’ve been provided. This way the admissions officers get a full view of your talents, and they get a full answer to the question they posed to you (because they obviously wanted to know the information).

Plus, often admissions officers use these sort of questions, not necessarily for the content, but to see that you can follow directions and accurately and completely answer the questions given to you. It helps show them that you take your time, pay attention to details, and are competent and coherent enough to do so.

  • Take it through multiple drafts.

As much as we all hate writing draft after draft of a paper, it really is helpful in the long run. Can you think of a time when you read something you wrote even a couple days beforehand and couldn’t find something to tweak or change? While it’s easy to want to finish up the application in one sitting and be done with it, just for the sake of not dealing with it anymore, you’d really be better off waiting at least a couple days to ensure that your essays are the best that they can be.

Write your essay, then put it away and revisit it a day or two later. Ensure that you’ve answered the entire question to the full extent. Clean up any rough edges, trim away unnecessary sentences and words. Double check the word count, and be sure to do a spell and grammar check. A manual one, too, because you can’t always rely on your computer to catch every mistake. You may have spelled a word correctly, but used it in the wrong context or at the wrong point in your essay. In essence, you must proofread.

  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Yes, believe it or not, you are encouraged to reuse your application essays! Because, guess what: many of the questions are very similar. It’s much easier to double dip in your essays than to write variations of the same one over and over again. Plus, it helps you to be consistent in your answers and to have all your facts straight, as well as to continue adapting and proofreading.

You often may need to add, subtract, or alter your essays depending on what you are applying to, but it helps to have a starting off point to work with when writing the essays or answers. Copying and pasting can help get much of the meat of your document out of the way, and leaves you ample time to add some details and tidy up the essay. But remember – this is only to be used on your own work!

Related Posts

The following two tabs change content below.
Elizabeth Benson

Elizabeth Benson

Elizabeth Benson is a freshman at Central Michigan University, currently pursuing a degree in Journalism. Elizabeth is a member of the CMU Honors Program, and is a staff reporter at Central Michigan Life, the student run campus newspaper. When she’s not in school, she can usually be found reading, writing, or watching movies, and enjoys traveling and performing in plays.
Elizabeth Benson

Latest posts by Elizabeth Benson (see all)