What Does A College Essay Look Like

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While it’s important to put considerable effort into all college application components, essays are often the finishing touch and should be treated with great care and consideration.

Here are some college application essay dos and don’ts for students to keep in mind as they complete their applications this fall.

This article was co-authored by Megan Morgan, Ph D.

Megan Morgan is a Graduate Program Academic Advisor in the School of Public & International Affairs at the University of Georgia.

When writing about a meaningful experience or event, you don’t have to give a long timeline of events.

Instead, give the reader the piece of the puzzle that conveys your message. With upwards of 25 or more essays to write for a balanced college list of 10-12 schools, it’s tempting for students to repurpose essays across applications if the prompts are similar.Show how you fit into the campus culture and how you will impact the community through specific examples.DON’T say what you think the admissions office wants to hear.While the Common Application prompts for the main essay are general enough to allow students to write about whatever they choose, it still needs to be clear how that essay addresses the prompt. Check and double check that a clear connection is made between the topic or lesson of your essay, and the question the prompt is asking. If you’re applying to 10 colleges and wait until two weeks before applications are due, you’re going to have a lot of writing to complete in a very short amount of time.Waiting until the last minute leads to stress and rushed essays that don’t accurately convey your message.While students can use the same main essay on the Common App for multiple schools, we always recommend that students tailor their supplemental essays to the individual colleges.Telling Harvard why you want to attend Columbia is a quick way to end up in the “no” pile.So many students think that they “know” what colleges want from an applicant, and this can have a big influence over their essays.Students will abuse the thesaurus and write about strange topics in an effort to impress and stand out.She earned her Ph D in English from the University of Georgia in 2015.There are 17 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. After all, writing takes specific skills and a lot of practice.


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