The college countdown has begun for high school seniors. The goal is to write a college essay that will move an application from the “maybe” pile to the “yes” pile. But wishing for it to happen isn’t enough. It takes a structured approach and some focused writing efforts. Bear in mind that the personal statement is a student’s opportunity to sell himself/herself to college admission officers beyond their grades and test scores. Students need to think of themselves as a product of their upbringing, schooling, interests, experiences and more. The essay should explain why the college should want the applicant as part of their student body.
Linda Ortwein, Director of College Counseling at Greenwich Education Group, offers 10 quick tips to make the pitch:
Make it memorable; do some structured brainstorming to come up with your memorable sales pitch
Distinguish yourself; talk about you, the unique dimensions of you as a person
Grab their attention at the start; a great opening line will hook the reader
Make them want to meet you; what qualities and attributes don’t show up on your transcript or activity list
Make sure you assess the essay prompts; are you answering their questions?
Grammar, grammar, grammar; don’t doom yourself with sloppy syntax
Keep the essay focused; a laundry list isn’t exciting reading so make sure you edit to a tightly written essay
Engage the reader; be polished but use your own voice
Read the essay out loud; make sure it sounds interesting and not bland
Write and rewrite; your first and second drafts aren’t good enough so demand more of yourself