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How do I write a good admissions essay?

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Cheryl’s Answer

You need to be your true, authentic self in the essay. In other words, you want them to accept you for who you are and what you are about. The Common App questions are designed for you to share who you are, how you think, what you believe in. It's a chance to differentiate yourself- show what makes you unique. You are more than a GPA or test score! But there are some basic things to do:
1.) Answer the prompt. Stay on task in your writing.
2.) Showcase a positive characteristic about yourself. I find it best to talk about what you know most, or what you care and/or are passionate about.
3.) Write like yourself. Don't try to sound like somebody you are not. Keep your writing real. The reader doesn't have a lot of time, so make it easy to read and understand. You want YOUR voice to come through. Be authentic. :)
4.) Show them how YOU think, by reflecting on what you have learned from your life experience. College is about thinking for yourself, so do not be afraid to let the reader know how you think.

The second type of essay usually has to do with why you want to attend a specific college or university. You DO NOT include this essay in the Common App. Here, you simply share with the reader why you would be a good fit for that college and why you want to attend there. Always include what contributions you will make on their campus. Ex: Join a specific club or do a specific community service event, or share your personal experiences and knowledge with other students. The key here is to be SPECIFIC- make your answer unique to you, something that another thousand students can't say, and that can't be said about ANY college. They have to know if you are serious about attending there.

A final tip. If you find your essay difficult to write, then you probably haven't picked the right topic. When you know what you really want to write about, it goes so much easier! You may want to journal for awhile...just free-flow put some thoughts down until the essay idea comes to you. To have a place to start, look at the 2020 Common App prompts. Being YOU is always most effective.

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Travis’s Answer

As others have said, I think the most important part is to be authentic to yourself. I would also emphasize the importance on telling a story. Your life is so much more than your GPA or your resume or a list of accomplishments. They want to know who you are. You should also stay on task and answer the question. You could write the best essay about Abraham Lincoln, but if they're asking what you will bring to their campus then it's wasted typing.

Do your research. Look into what makes the college special and why you would be a good fit. If you can learn about specific teachers or classes, reference that in your essay. Show the school that you are interested in them and they can reciprocate that interest in you. There's no "one size fits all" essay. Just as you should bring out your own personality, talk about the personality or culture of the school and why you would fit there.

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Blake’s Answer

Hey Henry,

Be yourself, and don't try to be something that you're not. Colleges get many essays, but the ones that stand out are authentic.


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Riley’s Answer

The most important thing to keep in mind is just answering the prompt. Colleges will provide you a specific topic to discuss in your paper, so make sure that you do stay on task and keep your essay focused on the required topic. Other than that, it is always helpful to include anything interesting about yourself (this does not have to be only academic) that might set you apart from the crowd. Be yourself! Colleges love to hear your personality shining through in these papers so keep it professional but also try your best to let your own voice come through.

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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Henry, I also agree with previous answers! It is definitely important to be true to yourself and maybe write about what makes you actually you! Like challenges you've overcome, and things you realized along the way; it is important to be honest in these essays and of course answer the questions provided. You do want to set yourself apart and make yourself see as different because admission committees get countless essays and after a while it can all be the same, but making yourself stand out with specific traits and stories to accompany them will definitely make your story original! As a side note you can also show a trustworthy English teacher as well; I showed my junior year English teacher and she helped me revise it to make it the best possible!

Best of luck!