How to write an amazing college essay
Okay, so you might not write like Ernest Hemingway, but even for the best scribes, writing a college essay is no easy task. Within the confines of 500 to 600 words, you have to not only express your personality, but also bear the responsibility of eloquently and briefly showcasing your passions, pursuits and accomplishments.
A number of admissions officers have weighed in on which essay topics they have seen countless times, including the stereotypical sports metaphor and bullet-point lists of activities and awards - all of which you should avoid at all costs. Instead, treat your essay like an interview by staying casual, to-the-point and, most importantly, true to yourself.
Alan Gelb, a college essay coach, recently spoke with CBS News about what he deems to be the proper time to start writing your personal statement.
"This is a task that you shouldn't rush," he told the news source. "You need time to let your material percolate up to the surface, brew a bit and then settle."
In addition to letting your essay stew, Gelb suggests revising and polishing it two to three times before finally pressing "send." The entire process could take as much as three weeks or longer.
Topics to avoid
Try not to show off in your essay. Chances are, your application is already filled with lists of your extracurricular activities, including community service and sports accolades, and college recruiters don't need to be persistently reminded about how awesome you are. Rather than repeating what has already been said, try to hone in on one particular moment or what exactly inspired you to pursue a certain activity in the first place. Why do you volunteer at the local hospital? What is it about basketball that pushes you?
USA Today contributor Elizabeth Heaton has read thousands of essays over the years and knows a good piece of writing when she sees one.
"Showcase your wit and intellect by writing about an absorbing academic or thought-provoking experience," she wrote. "The essay is the primary chance you have in the application process to share something important about yourself."
Instead of shamelessly plugging yourself, show colleges how you stand out as a person, whether you have a passion for the environment or simply yearn to learn more about everything under the sun.