College essays are often required when applying to
United States colleges and universities. Essays are
considered an important part of your overall application package
and a poorly written essay will give a negative impression,
even if the rest of your application is top quality.
There are web sites and books available that provide students with
pre-written college essays to increase their chances of admission.
You should never use these pre-written essays and try to submit
them as your own. School representatives read hundreds of
essays from students annually. They can recognize a copied
answer and will judge you very negatively. It's important
that you write your own essay and that it reflects your point of
What Schools Consider
When evaluating your essay,
college admission staff will consider three areas:
Your ability to write properly in English. Was it written grammatically correct and presented neatly without mistakes?
Your ability to convey
your true feelings or opinions about subject. Were you able to express yourself in a compelling and meaningful manner?
Your creativity and
originality. Would you bring a fresh perspective and
viewpoint to the college that would enhance the overall
Essays often ask the student to
describe the following subjects:
An important experience
or achievement: This
question shows the school what you value and what you hope to
achieve in the future. Often the best essays are about
modest accomplishments. It's more important what you
learned from the experience than what you actually
accomplished. Focus on how you grew as a person.
A personal, local,
national or international issue and how it was important to
you: This question considers how you feel about a certain issue and how
you relate this issue back to your own life. Why do you
personally care about this matter? You should have a
strong opinion, yet demonstrate that you understand both sides
of the story too.
person that influenced your life: This question can be
tricky. Colleges don't really want you to write a long
essay about another person's life. They want you to
focus on your own life, and to explain how this particular
person helped shaped your values. The admission officers
will be especially interested in how you describe this person.
For instance, why is this person your role model? In
many ways your description of the person is more important
than the person you've chosen.
The reason you're
applying to that particular school: This is an opportunity
to demonstrate what you know about the school and to express
your personal goals. You don't want to use this essay to
flatter the school about its programs. You want to
present a sincere and honest impression by demonstrating how
specific programs at the school correspond with your own
interests and future goals.
Keep in mind when writing your
Answer the question right up
front. You'd be surprised how often students
forget this basic principle and never actually answer the
question in their essays.
Express your beliefs honestly and clearly in your writing.
Try to strike a balance between confidence and objectivity
about yourself. Tell the truth and avoid exaggerating or
overstating your abilities. On the other hand, don't be
over-modest about yourself. This essay is your chance to
differentiate yourself from other student applicants.
Write clearly and concisely.
To have a well-written essay, you may have to write and
rewrite it several times. In fact, experts say the best
essays can require at least 2-3 weeks to get it in the proper
form maybe longer. Always have at least one native
English speaker read over your essay for accuracy.
Use examples and anecdotes
to make a point. If you are "fascinated by
engineering," explain why. Did a family member work
in engineering and take you along on various projects?
Have you already participated in summer programs in this area?
The more specific your examples, the better you'll communicate
information (e.g., grades) found elsewhere on your
application. You don't want to waste space with a
chronological history of your life. Instead, select a
few aspects about yourself and explain how various life
experiences have helped shaped the person you are today.