Your College App Essay is Probably a C+

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Your College App Essay is Probably a C+

Applying to college? The single most important part of your application is your essays. Yet, your essay is probably a C-plus.

Prompt.com reviews thousands of college application essays each year and scores them against a rubric. The results are unsettling – the average essay is a C-plus. It doesn’t matter if you’re a straight-A student, have fantastic test scores, or are in AP English. The answer still stands: your application essays are probably C-plus quality. The good news? The average essay takes only two to three revisions to get it to an A, provided that the revisions are based on feedback from a college essay expert.

So, why do people struggle with college application essays no matter their GPA or test scores? Grammar doesn’t create winning essays. Content creates winning essays. Structure creates winning essays. Writing about the wrong topics will get you rejected. The best content in the world will get you rejected if your reader can’t understand it in under two minutes.

The average essay scores a C-minus on content. Half of all essays don’t fully answer the prompt. The content of most essays is not compelling and doesn’t leave the reader with a sense of who you are and why you would be a great addition for his or her university. The fix? Focus your essays around your passions, personality, and hopes and dreams. The second most common content pitfall is writing a narrative that lacks self-reflection and analysis. Descriptive language doesn’t get you into your dream college but showing who you are will.

The average essay scores a C on structure. Nearly three-quarters of all essays have a weak or non-existent thesis statement. You may have heard that admissions essays don’t need a thesis statement. This is false for all but the top 1% of writers. Your goal is to control what your reader is thinking at every moment of your essay. By providing your answer to the prompt at the beginning of the essay, you control how your reader interprets your examples and stories. You should aim to write in a structured manner like a journalist. One way to be structured is by using a thesis statement and topic sentences for paragraphs. Doing this will provide structure to your thoughts and help your reader quickly obtain the information he or she is looking for while leaving you in control of your message.

So how do you turn your C-plus into an A? Prompt has found that students who get feedback from experts turn their essays from a C-plus into an A within three drafts. If you have a draft, see how it stacks up by taking advantage of a free review from Prompt. If you haven’t started your essays, create an outline first to help you structure your thoughts and save you time in subsequent drafts. Prompt offers a free outlining tool that walks you through the process. Good luck writing your essays and make sure you get feedback to turn each essay from a C-plus to an A.


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