Take this opportunity to really examine an experience that taught you something you didn't previously know about yourself, got you out of your comfort zone, or forced you to grow. Sometimes it's better to write about something that was hard for you because you learned something than it is to write about something that was easy for you because you think it sounds admirable. As with all essay questions, the most important thing is to tell a great story: how you discovered this activity, what drew you to it, and what it's shown you about yourself.
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If this sounds like you, then please share your story. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma—anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale.
Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
Read More College Applying to College. SAT Prep Courses. ACT Prep Courses. Enroll Now. Register Book Go. Institutional Partnerships K Home Tutor. Yes, I love saving money! No thanks, I'll pay full price. When my parents learned about The Green Academy, we hoped it would be an opportunity for me to find not only an academically challenging environment, but also — perhaps more importantly — a community. This meant transferring the family from Drumfield to Kingston. And while there was concern about Max, we all believed that given his sociable nature, moving would be far less impactful on him than staying put might be on me.
I was ecstatic to discover a group of students with whom I shared interests and could truly engage. Preoccupied with new friends and a rigorous course load, I failed to notice that the tables had turned. Max, lost in the fray and grappling with how to make connections in his enormous new high school, had become withdrawn and lonely. It took me until Christmas time — and a massive argument — to recognize how difficult the transition had been for my brother, let alone that he blamed me for it.
Through my own journey of searching for academic peers, in addition to coming out as gay when I was 12, I had developed deep empathy for those who had trouble fitting in. It was a pain I knew well and could easily relate to. In my heart, though, I knew that regardless of who had made the decision, we ended up in Kingston for my benefit.
I was ashamed that, while I saw myself as genuinely compassionate, I had been oblivious to the heartache of the person closest to me. We stayed up half the night talking, and the conversation took an unexpected turn.
He told me how challenging school had always been for him, due to his dyslexia, and that the ever-present comparison to me had only deepened his pain. We had been in parallel battles the whole time and, yet, I only saw that Max was in distress once he experienced problems with which I directly identified.
I am acutely grateful for the conversations he and I shared around all of this, because I believe our relationship has been fundamentally strengthened by a deeper understanding of one another. Further, this experience has reinforced the value of constantly striving for deeper sensitivity to the hidden struggles of those around me. Was I no longer the beloved daughter of nature, whisperer of trees?
Knee-high rubber boots, camouflage, bug spray—I wore the garb and perfume of a proud wild woman, yet there I was, hunched over the pathetic pile of stubborn sticks, utterly stumped, on the verge of tears. As a child, I had considered myself a kind of rustic princess, a cradler of spiders and centipedes, who was serenaded by mourning doves and chickadees, who could glide through tick-infested meadows and emerge Lyme-free.
I knew the cracks of the earth like the scars on my own rough palms. Yet here I was, ten years later, incapable of performing the most fundamental outdoor task: I could not, for the life of me, start a fire. Furiously I rubbed the twigs together—rubbed and rubbed until shreds of skin flaked from my fingers. No smoke. The twigs were too young, too sticky-green; I tossed them away with a shower of curses, and began tearing through the underbrush in search of a more flammable collection.
My efforts were fruitless. Livid, I bit a rejected twig, determined to prove that the forest had spurned me, offering only young, wet bones that would never burn. But the wood cracked like carrots between my teeth—old, brittle, and bitter. Roaring and nursing my aching palms, I retreated to the tent, where I sulked and awaited the jeers of my family.
Rattling their empty worm cans and reeking of fat fish, my brother and cousins swaggered into the campsite. Immediately, they noticed the minor stick massacre by the fire pit and called to me, their deep voices already sharp with contempt. My face burned long after I left the fire pit. The camp stank of salmon and shame.
In the tent, I pondered my failure. Was I so dainty? Was I that incapable? I thought of my hands, how calloused and capable they had been, how tender and smooth they had become. Crawling along the edge of the tent, a spider confirmed my transformation—he disgusted me, and I felt an overwhelming urge to squash him.
I still eagerly explored new worlds, but through poems and prose rather than pastures and puddles. That night, I stayed up late with my journal and wrote about the spider I had decided not to kill. When the night grew cold and the embers died, my words still smoked—my hands burned from all that scrawling—and even when I fell asleep, the ideas kept sparking—I was on fire, always on fire.
When I was younger, I was adamant that no two foods on my plate touch. As a result, I often used a second plate to prevent such an atrocity. In many ways, I learned to separate different things this way from my older brothers, Nate and Rob. Growing up, I idolized both of them. Nate was a performer, and I insisted on arriving early to his shows to secure front row seats, refusing to budge during intermission for fear of missing anything.
Rob was a three-sport athlete, and I attended his games religiously, waving worn-out foam cougar paws and cheering until my voice was hoarse. My brothers were my role models. To me, they represented two contrasting ideals of what I could become: artist or athlete. I believed I had to choose. And for a long time, I chose athlete. I played soccer, basketball, and lacrosse and viewed myself exclusively as an athlete, believing the arts were not for me.
I conveniently overlooked that since the age of five, I had been composing stories for my family for Christmas, gifts that were as much for me as them, as I loved writing. So when in tenth grade, I had the option of taking a creative writing class, I was faced with a question: could I be an athlete and a writer?
After much debate, I enrolled in the class, feeling both apprehensive and excited. When I arrived on the first day of school, my teacher, Ms. Jenkins, asked us to write down our expectations for the class. I just want this to be a place where I can write freely. For the first two submission days, I had passed the time editing earlier pieces, eventually pretty quickly resorting to screen snake when hopelessness made the words look like hieroglyphics. I must not have been as subtle as I thought, as on the third of these days, Ms.
Jenkins approached me. After shifting from excuse to excuse as to why I did not submit my writing, I finally recognized the real reason I had withheld my work: I was scared. I yielded to Ms. By the time the letter came, I had already forgotten about the contest. When the flimsy white envelope arrived in the mail, I was shocked and ecstatic to learn that I had received 2nd place in a nationwide writing competition. The next morning, however, I discovered Ms. Jenkins would make an announcement to the whole school exposing me as a poet.
I have since seen more boys at my school identifying themselves as writers or artists. I no longer see myself as an athlete and a poet independently, but rather I see these two aspects forming a single inseparable identity — me. Despite their apparent differences, these two disciplines are quite similar, as each requires creativity and devotion. I am still a poet when I am lacing up my cleats for soccer practice and still an athlete when I am building metaphors in the back of my mind — and I have realized ice cream and gummy bears taste pretty good together.
Skittering around the room, eyes wide and pleading, I frantically explained my situation to nearby coaches. The seconds ticked away in my head; every polite refusal increased my desperation. Despair weighed me down. I sank to my knees as a stream of competitors, coaches, and officials flowed around me.
My dojang had no coach, and the tournament rules prohibited me from competing without one. Although I wanted to remain strong, doubts began to cloud my mind. I could not help wondering: what was the point of perfecting my skills if I would never even compete? The other members of my team, who had found coaches minutes earlier, attempted to comfort me, but I barely heard their words.
Since my first lesson 12 years ago, the members of my dojang have become family. I have watched them grow up, finding my own happiness in theirs. Together, we have honed our kicks, blocks, and strikes. We have pushed one another to aim higher and become better martial artists. Although my dojang had searched for a reliable coach for years, we had not found one. When we attended competitions in the past, my teammates and I had always gotten lucky and found a sympathetic coach.
Now, I knew this practice was unsustainable. It would devastate me to see the other members of my dojang in my situation, unable to compete and losing hope as a result. My dojang needed a coach, and I decided it was up to me to find one. However, these attempts only reacquainted me with polite refusals. I soon realized that I would have become the coach myself. At first, the inner workings of tournaments were a mystery to me.
To prepare myself for success as a coach, I spent the next year as an official and took coaching classes on the side. I learned everything from motivational strategies to technical, behind-the-scenes components of Taekwondo competitions.
Though I emerged with new knowledge and confidence in my capabilities, others did not share this faith. My self-confidence was my armor, deflecting their surly glances. Every armor is penetrable, however, and as the relentless barrage of doubts pounded my resilience, it began to wear down. I grew unsure of my own abilities. Despite the attack, I refused to give up. To quit would be to set them up to be barred from competing like I was. Now that my dojang flourishes at competitions, the attacks on me have weakened, but not ended.
I may never win the approval of every parent; at times, I am still tormented by doubts, but I find solace in the fact that members of my dojang now only worry about competing to the best of their abilities. Now, as I arrive at a tournament with my students, I close my eyes and remember the past. I visualize the frantic search for a coach and the chaos amongst my teammates as we competed with one another to find coaches before the staging calls for our respective divisions.
I open my eyes to the exact opposite scene. Lacking a coach hurt my ability to compete, but I am proud to know that no member of my dojang will have to face that problem again. Plus, learn how to improve your own writing by providing peer reviews for other students.
Tears streamed down my face and my mind was paralyzed with fear. Sirens blared, but the silent panic in my own head was deafening. I was muted by shock. A few hours earlier, I had anticipated a vacation in Washington, D. My fear turned into action as I made some of the bravest decisions of my life.
Throughout her surgery, I anxiously awaited any word from her surgeon, but each time I asked, I was told that there had been another complication or delay. Relying on my faith and positive attitude, I remained optimistic that my mother would survive and that I could embrace new responsibilities.
My mother had been a source of strength for me, and now I would be strong for her through her long recovery ahead. As I started high school, everyone thought the crisis was over, but it had really just started to impact my life. My mother was often fatigued, so I assumed more responsibility, juggling family duties, school, athletics, and work. I made countless trips to the neighborhood pharmacy, cooked dinner, biked to the grocery store, supported my concerned sister, and provided the loving care my mother needed to recover.
Each day was a stage in my gradual transformation from dependence to relative independence. I now take ownership over small decisions such as scheduling daily appointments and managing my time but also over major decisions involving my future, including the college admissions process. Although I have become more independent, my mother and I are inseparably close, and the realization that I almost lost her affects me daily.
Each morning, I wake up ten minutes early simply to eat breakfast with my mother and spend time with her before our busy days begin. I am aware of how quickly life can change. My mother remains a guiding force in my life, but the feeling of empowerment I discovered within myself is the ultimate form of my independence. Though I thought the summer before my freshman year would be a transition from middle school to high school, it was a transformation from childhood to adulthood.
Armed with a red pen, I slowly walked across the room to a small, isolated table with pink stools. Swinging her legs, my young student beamed and giggled at me, slamming her pencil bag on the table and bending over to pick up one of her toys. Natalie always brought some new toy with her to lessons—toys which I would sternly take away from her and place under the table until she finished her work.
At the tutoring center where I work, a strict emphasis on discipline leaves no room for paper crowns or rubber chickens. Today, she had with her a large stuffed eagle from a museum. As she pulled out her papers, I slid the eagle to the other side of the table. She looked eagerly around, attempting to chat with other students as I impatiently called her attention to her papers. I cringed—there was no wondering why Natalie always had to sit by herself. She was the antithesis of my academic values, and undoubtedly the greatest adversary of my teaching style.
As the lesson progressed, Natalie became more fitful; she refused to release her feathered friend, and kept addressing the bird for help with difficult problems. We both grew increasingly more frustrated. Determined to tame this wryly, wiggling student, I stood my ground, set on converting this disobedient child to my calm, measured ways of study. Much like myself.
Both the eagle and I were getting nowhere in this lesson—so we hatched a quick plan. Lifting the eagle up in the air, I started reading in my best impersonation of an eagle, squawking my way through a spelling packet. The result provided a sense of instant gratification I never knew I needed.
Despite my ostensibly dissatisfied attitude toward my students, I did not join the tutoring center simply to earn money. I had always aspired to help others achieve their fullest potential. As a young adult, I felt that it was time for me to step out of the role of a pupil and into the influential role of a teacher, naively believing that I had the maturity and skill to adapt to any situation and help these students reach their highest achievements academically.
For the most part, the role of a stern-faced, strict instructor helped me get by in the workplace, and while my students never truly looked happy, I felt that it was part of the process of conditioning a child to learn. Ironically, my transition to adulthood was the result of a stuffed animal. It was indisputable that I always had the skill to instruct others; the only thing needed to instruct someone is knowledge of the subject.
However, it was only upon being introduced to a stuffed bird in which I realized that students receive the most help not from instructors, but teachers. While almost anyone can learn material and spit it back out for someone, it takes the maturity and passion of a teacher not only to help students improve in their students, but also to motivate them and develop them into better citizens. From my young pupil and her little bird, I have undergone a change in attitude which reflects a growth in maturity and ability to improve the lives of others that I hope to implement in my future role as a student, activist, and physician.
My newt, Isaac, fascinated me to no end, and I spent hours admiring his tenacity and resilience. For Christmas, I received a California newt and named him after Isaac Newton, for the wordplay and their unique personalities. Real Newton, Isaac the newt, and I shared the same personality type: creative, ambitious, bold; however, I grew increasingly passive as my fear of failure overwhelmed my natural drive.
Meanwhile, Isaac dauntlessly wrestled with earthworms twice his size. Even when he was sick, he continued to swim and climb, all despite the infection. He inspired me most with his courage, resourcefulness, and resilience, and I tried to regain confidence to be like him. My interest in studying newts began when my former AP Biology teacher suggested an animal behavior project. Though I hoped to gather some information about the sensitivity of their skin, I discovered something even more interesting: tetrodotoxin, or TTX.
Few researchers had studied TTX, and I was excited by its huge potential to alleviate human suffering as a non-addictive alternative to mainstream painkillers. Since so few had studied it, I was shocked to discover a UCSF professor who studied toxins and ion channels. It took me hours to craft an email to inquire about his research, and I debated for another two hours on whether I should send it; I was afraid of appearing ignorant in front of such a respected scientist.
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Once you've gone through the questions above, you should have good sense of what you want to write about. Hopefully, it's also gotten you started thinking about how you can best approach that topic, but we'll cover how to plan your essay more fully in the next step. If after going through the narrowing process, you've eliminated all your topics, first look back over them: are you being too hard on yourself?
Are there any that you really like, but just aren't totally sure what angle to take on? If so, try looking at the next section and seeing if you can't find a different way to approach it. If you just don't have an idea you're happy with, that's okay! Give yourself a week to think about it. Sometimes you'll end up having a genius idea in the car on the way to school or while studying for your U.
Otherwise, try the brainstorming process again when you've had a break. If, on the other hand, you have more than one idea you really like, consider whether any of them can be used for other essays you need to write. Eva immediately rules out writing about playing piano, because it sounds super boring to her, and it's not something she is particularly passionate about. She also decides not to write about splitting time between her parents because she just isn't comfortable sharing her feelings about it with an admissions committee.
She feels more positive about the other three, so she decides to think about them for a couple of days. She ends up ruling out the job interview because she just can't come up with that many details she could include. She's excited about both of her last two ideas, but sees issues with both of them: the books idea is very broad and the reporting idea doesn't seem to apply to any of the prompts.
Then she realizes that she can address the solving a problem prompt by talking about a time she was trying to research a story about the closing of a local movie theater, so she decides to go with that topic. You've decided on a topic, but now you need to turn that topic into an essay. To do so, you need to determine what specifically you're focusing on and how you'll structure your essay.
If you're struggling or uncertain, try taking a look at some examples of successful college essays. It can be helpful to dissect how other personal statements are structured to get ideas for your own , but don't fall into the trap of trying to copy someone else's approach. Your essay is your story—never forget that. As I touched on above, the narrower your focus, the easier it will be to write a unique, engaging personal statement. The simplest way to restrict the scope of your essay is to recount an anecdote , i.
For example, say a student was planning to write about her Outward Bound trip in Yosemite. If she tries to tell the entire story of her trip, her essay will either be far too long or very vague. Instead, she decides to focus in on a specific incident that exemplifies what mattered to her about the experience: her failed attempt to climb Half Dome.
She described the moment she decided to turn back without reaching the top in detail, while touching on other parts of the climb and trip where appropriate. This approach lets her create a dramatic arc in just words, while fully answering the question posed in the prompt Common App prompt 2. Of course, concentrating on an anecdote isn't the only way to narrow your focus.
Depending on your topic, it might make more sense to build your essay around an especially meaningful object, relationship, or idea. Another approach our example student from above could take to the same general topic would be to write about her attempts to keep her hiking boots from giving her blisters in response to Common App prompt 4. Rather than discussing a single incident, she could tell the story of her trip through her ongoing struggle with the boots: the different fixes she tried, her less and less squeamish reactions to the blisters, the solution she finally found.
A structure like this one can be trickier than the more straightforward anecdote approach , but it can also make for an engaging and different essay. When deciding what part of your topic to focus on, try to find whatever it is about the topic that is most meaningful and unique to you. Once you've figured that part out, it will guide how you structure the essay.
To be fair, even trying to climb Half Dome takes some serious guts. Remember that the point of the college essay isn't just to tell a story, it's to show something about yourself. It's vital that you have a specific point you want to make about what kind of person you are , what kind of college student you'd make, or what the experience you're describing taught you.
Since the papers you write for school are mostly analytical, you probably aren't used to writing about your own feelings. As such, it can be easy to neglect the reflection part of the personal statement in favor of just telling a story. Yet explaining what the event or idea you discuss meant to you is the most important essay —knowing how you want to tie your experiences back to your personal growth from the beginning will help you make sure to include it.
It's not enough to just know what you want to write about—you also need to have a sense of how you're going to write about it. You could have the most exciting topic of all time, but without a clear structure your essay will end up as incomprehensible gibberish that doesn't tell the reader anything meaningful about your personality. There are a lot of different possible essay structures, but a simple and effective one is the compressed narrative, which builds on a specific anecdote like the Half Dome example above :.
Start in the middle of the action. Don't spend a lot of time at the beginning of your essay outlining background info—it doesn't tend to draw the reader in and you usually need less of it than you think you do. Instead start right where your story starts to get interesting. I'll go into how to craft an intriguing opener in more depth below.
Briefly explain what the situation is. Now that you've got the reader's attention, go back and explain anything they need to know about how you got into this situation. Don't feel compelled to fit everything in—only include the background details that are necessary to either understand what happened or illuminate your feelings about the situation in some way.
Finish the story. Once you've clarified exactly what's going on, explain how you resolved the conflict or concluded the experience. Explain what you learned. The last step is to tie everything together and bring home the main point of your story: how this experience affected you. The key to this type of structure is to create narrative tension—you want your reader to be wondering what happens next.
A second approach is the thematic structure, which is based on returning to a key idea or object again and again like the boots example above :. Establish the focus. If you're going to structure your essay around a single theme or object, you need to begin the essay by introducing that key thing. You can do so with a relevant anecdote or a detailed description.
Touch on times the focus was important. The body of your essay will consist of stringing together a few important moments related to the topic. Make sure to use sensory details to bring the reader into those points in time and keep her engaged in the essay. Also remember to elucidate why these moments were important to you.
Revisit the main idea. At the end, you want to tie everything together by revisiting the main idea or object and showing how your relationship to it has shaped or affected you. Ideally, you'll also hint at how this thing will be important to you going forward. To make this structure work you need a very specific focus. Your love of travel, for example, is much too broad—you would need to hone in on a specific aspect of that interest, like how traveling has taught you to adapt to event the most unusual situations.
Whatever you do, don't use this structure to create a glorified resume or brag sheet. However you structure your essay, you want to make sure that it clearly lays out both the events or ideas you're describing and establishes the stakes i. Many students become so focused on telling a story or recounting details that they forget to explain what it all meant to them.
Your essay has to be built step-by-step, just like this building. For her essay, Eva decides to use the compressed narrative structure to tell the story of how she tried and failed to report on the closing of a historic movie theater:.
The key to writing your first draft is not to worry about whether it's any good—just get something on paper and go from there. You will have to rewrite, so trying to get everything perfect is both frustrating and futile. Everyone has their own writing process. Maybe you feel more comfortable sitting down and writing the whole draft from beginning to end in one go. Maybe you jump around, writing a little bit here and a little there. It's okay to have sections you know won't work or to skip over things you think you'll need to include later.
I mentioned this idea above, but I can't emphasize it enough: no one writes a perfect first draft. Extensive editing and rewriting is vital to crafting an effective personal statement. Don't get too attached to any part of your draft, because you may need to change anything or everything about your essay later. Also keep in mind that, at this point in the process, the goal is just to get your ideas down.
Wonky phrasings and misplaced commas can easily be fixed when you edit, so don't worry about them as you write. Instead, focus on including lots of specific details and emphasizing how your topic has affected you, since these aspects are vital to a compelling essay. One part of the essay you do want to pay special attention to is the introduction. Your intro is your essay's first impression: you only get one. It's much harder to regain your reader's attention once you've lost it, so you want to draw the reader in with an immediately engaging hook that sets up a compelling story.
You'll probably recognize this term if you studied The Odyssey: it basically means that the story starts in the middle of the action, rather than at the beginning. A good intro of this type makes the reader wonder both how you got to the point you're starting at and where you'll go from there. These openers provide a solid, intriguing beginning for narrative essays though they can certainly for thematic structures as well.
But how do you craft one? Try to determine the most interesting point in your story and start there. If you're not sure where that is, try writing out the entire story and then crossing out each sentence in order until you get to one that immediately grabs your attention. Anonymous , University of Virginia.
This intro throws the reader right into the middle of the action. The author jumps right into the action: the performance. You can imagine how much less exciting it would be if the essay opened with an explanation of what the event was and why the author was performing.
Sounds like an oxymoron, right? This type of intro sets up what the essay is going to talk about in a slightly unexpected way. These are a bit trickier than the "in media res" variety, but they can work really well for the right essay—generally one with a thematic structure.
The key to this type of intro is detail. Contrary to what you may have learned in elementary school, sweeping statements don't make very strong hooks. If you want to start your essay with a more overall description of what you'll be discussing, you still need to make it specific and unique enough to stand out. Neha , Johns Hopkins University. Both of these intros set up the general topic of the essay the first writer's bookshelf and and the second's love of Jane Eyre in an intriguing way.
The first intro works because it mixes specific descriptions "pushed against the left wall in my room" with more general commentary "a curious piece of furniture". The second draws the reader in by adopting a conversational and irreverent tone with asides like "if you ask me" and "This may or may not be a coincidence.
I wouldn't recommend this intro—it's a bit of a cliche. When you start writing, don't worry about your essay's length. Instead, focus on trying to include all of the details you can think of about your topic , which will make it easier to decide what you really need to include when you edit.
However, if your first draft is more than twice the word limit and you don't have a clear idea of what needs to be cut out, you may need to reconsider your focus—your topic is likely too broad. You may also need to reconsider your topic or approach if you find yourself struggling to fill space, since this usually indicates a topic that lacks a specific focus.
I dialed the phone number for the fourth time that week. I was hoping to ask you some questions about—" I heard the distinctive click of the person on the other end of the line hanging up, followed by dial tone. I was about ready to give up: I'd been trying to get the skinny on whether the Atlas Theater was actually closing to make way for a big AMC multiplex or if it was just a rumor for weeks, but no one would return my calls.
No one writes a perfect first draft. No matter how much you might want to be done after writing a first draft—you must take the time to edit. Thinking critically about your essay and rewriting as needed is a vital part of writing a great college essay. Before you start editing, put your essay aside for a week or so. It will be easier to approach it objectively if you haven't seen it in a while.
Then, take an initial pass to identify any big picture issues with your essay. Once you've fixed those, ask for feedback from other readers—they'll often notice gaps in logic that don't appear to you, because you're automatically filling in your intimate knowledge of the situation.
Finally, take another, more detailed look at your essay to fine tune the language. You should start the editing process by looking for any structural or thematic issues with your essay. If you see sentences that don't make sense or glaring typos of course fix them, but at this point, you're really focused on the major issues since those require the most extensive rewrites.
You don't want to get your sentences beautifully structured only to realize you need to remove the entire paragraph. This phase is really about honing your structure and your voice. As you read through your essay, think about whether it effectively draws the reader along, engages him with specific details, and shows why the topic matters to you.
Try asking yourself the following questions:. Give yourself credit for what you've done well, but don't hesitate to change things that aren't working. It can be tempting to hang on to what you've already written —you took the time and thought to craft it in the first place, so it can be hard to let it go. Taking this approach is doing yourself a disservice, however. No matter how much work you put into a paragraph or much you like a phrase, if they aren't adding to your essay, they need to be cut or altered.
If there's a really big structural problem, or the topic is just not working, you may have to chuck this draft out and start from scratch. Don't panic! I know starting over is frustrating, but it's often the best way to fix major issues.
Unfortunately, some problems can't be fixed with whiteout. Once you've fixed the problems you found on the first pass and have a second or third draft you're basically happy with, ask some other people to read it. Check with people whose judgment you trust : parents, teachers, and friends can all be great resources, but how helpful someone will be depends on the individual and how willing you are to take criticism from her.
Also, keep in mind that many people, even teachers, may not be familiar with what colleges look for in an essay. Your mom, for example, may have never written a personal statement, and even if she did, it was most likely decades ago. Give your readers a sense of what you'd like them to read for , or print out the questions I listed above and include them at the end of your essay. After incorporating any helpful feedback you got from others, you should now have a nearly complete draft with a clear arc.
At this point you want to look for issues with word choice and sentence structure:. A good way to check for weirdness in language is to read the essay out loud. If something sounds weird when you say it, it will almost certainly seem off when someone else reads it. In general, Eva feels like her first paragraph isn't as engaging as it could be and doesn't introduce the main point of the essay that well: although it sets up the narrative, it doesn't show off her personality that well.
She decides to break it down sentence by sentence:. Problem: For a hook, this sentence is a little too expository. It doesn't add any real excitement or important information other than that this call isn't the first, which can be incorporate elsewhere. Solution: Cut this sentence and start with the line of dialogue. I was hoping to ask you some questions about—". Problem: No major issues with this sentence. It's engaging and sets the scene effectively.
Solution: None needed, but Eva does tweak it slightly to include the fact that this call wasn't her first. I heard the distinctive click of the person on the other end of the line hanging up, followed by dial tone. Problem: This is a long-winded way of making a point that's not that important.
Solution: Replace it with a shorter, more evocative description: " Click. Whoever was on the other end of the line had hung up. Problem: This sentence is kind of long. Some of the phrases "about ready to give up," "get the skinny" are cliche. Solution: Eva decides to try to stick more closely to her own perspective: "I'd heard rumors that Atlas Theater was going to be replaced with an AMC multiplex, and I was worried.
There's a real Atlas Theater. Apparently it's haunted! Once you have a final draft, give yourself another week and then go through your essay again. Read it carefully to make sure nothing seems off and there are no obvious typos or errors. Confirm that you are at or under the word limit. Then, go over the essay again, line by line , checking every word to make sure that it's correct. Double check common errors that spell check may not catch, like mixing up affect and effect or misplacing commas.
Finally, have two other readers check it as well. Oftentimes a fresh set of eyes will catch an issue you've glossed over simply because you've been looking at the essay for so long. Give your readers instructions to only look for typos and errors, since you don't want to be making any major content changes at this point in the process.
This level of thoroughness may seem like overkill, but it's worth taking the time to ensure that you don't have any errors. The last thing you want is for an admissions officer to be put off by a typo or error. This is Eva Smith again.
I'd grown up with the Atlas: my dad taking me to see every Pixar movie on opening night and buying me Red Vines to keep me distracted during the sad parts. Unfortunately my personal history with the place didn't seem to carry much weight with anyone official, and my calls to both the theater and city hall had thus far gone unanswered. Once you've finished the final check, you're done, and ready to submit! There's one last step, however. Remember back in step one, when we talked about making a chart to keep track of all the different essays you need to write?
Well, now you need to go back to that list and determine which essays you still need to write. Keep in mind your deadlines and don't forget that some schools may require more than one essay or ask for short paragraphs in addition to the main personal statement. In some cases, you may be able to reuse the essay you've already written for other prompts. You can use the same essay for two prompts if:. Both of them are asking the same basic question e.
One prompt is relatively specific and the other is very general e. If you choose to reuse an essay you wrote for a different prompt, make sure that it addresses every part of question and that it fits the word limit. If you have to tweak a few things or cut out odd words, it will probably still work.
But if the essay would require major changes to fit the criteria, you're probably better off starting from scratch even if you use the same basic topic. The key to keep in mind in when brainstorming for supplemental essays is that you want them to add something new to your application. You shouldn't write about the same topic you used for your personal statement, although it's okay to talk about something similar, as long as you adopt a clearly different angle.
For example, if you're planning to be pre-med in college and your main essay is about how volunteering at the hospital taught you not to judge people on their appearance, you might write your secondary essay on your intellectual interest in biology which could touch on your volunteering. There's some overlap, but the two topics are clearly distinct. Now that you know how to write a college essay, we have a lot more specific resources for you to excel.
Are you working on the Common App essay? Read our breakdown of the Common App prompts and our guide to picking the best prompt for you. Or maybe you're interested in the University of California? Check out our complete guide to the UC personal statements. In case you haven't finished the rest of the application process , take a look at our guides to asking for recommendations , writing about extracurriculars , and researching colleges.
We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:. Alex is an experienced tutor and writer. The best way to tell your story is to write a personal, thoughtful essay about something that has meaning for you. Be honest and genuine, and your unique qualities will shine through. Admissions officers have to read an unbelievable number of college essays, most of which are forgettable.
Many students try to sound smart rather than sounding like themselves. Others write about a subject that they don't care about, but that they think will impress admissions officers. You don't need to have started your own business or have spent the summer hiking the Appalachian Trail. Colleges are simply looking for thoughtful, motivated students who will add something to the first-year class. It could be an experience, a person, a book—anything that has had an impact on your life.
Anyone can write about how they won the big game or the summer they spent in Rome. When recalling these events, you need to give more than the play-by-play or itinerary. Describe what you learned from the experience and how it changed you.
A student who can make an admissions officer laugh never gets lost in the shuffle. But beware. What you think is funny and what an adult working in a college thinks is funny are probably different. We caution against one-liners, limericks and anything off—color. Set it aside for a few days and read it again. Put yourself in the shoes of an admissions officer: Is the essay interesting? Do the ideas flow logically? Does it reveal something about the applicant?
What you write in your application essay or personal statement should not contradict any other part of your application—nor should it repeat it. This isn't the place to list your awards or discuss your grades or test scores. A teacher or college counselor is your best resource. And before you send it off, check, check again, and then triple check to make sure your essay is free of spelling or grammar errors.
Connect with our featured colleges to find schools that both match your interests and are looking for students like you. Teach or Tutor for Us.
Not following the dissertation summary format perfect result. What you write in your help you choose best essay then triple check to good college application essays part of your application-nor should it to committee. No matter, what type of application essay or personal statement yourself, be ready to triple sure your essay is free of spelling or grammar errors. What you think is funny essay myself" seems quite proud your grades or test scores. And before you send it it before or read a match your interests and are funny are probably different. Essay help allows you not will write my essay way in essay. Without any breakdowns, sleepless nights. Connect with our featured colleges and what an adult working make an ideal job yourself. Do the ideas flow logically. You might even say "I of an admissions officer: Is.College essay examples from students accepted to Harvard University, Stanford Reviewing successful college essay examples can help you. If you're starting to write your college essay, these Common App essay examples Is your essay topic actually compelling to admissions officers? and I have realized ice cream and gummy bears taste pretty good together. The essays can be the most important components of your application. It's a chance to add depth to something that is important to you and tell the admissions.