3 Tips for Writing the Perfect College Application Essay

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3 Tips for Writing the Perfect College Application Essay

The average college application receives less than 15 minutes of a college admissions officer’s time. Let that sink in. All of your years of hard work in high school and hours of hard work on your application boil down to less than 15 minutes. A lot is on the line, and the essay is the single most important component to your success. Thankfully, Prompt has identified the three keys to writing a killer application essay.

1)  Be Memorable

You need your application to stick out in the reader’s mind. The average admissions officer reads through 30+ applications per day of which less than 3 will be accepted at a top school. You do not have much time to make an impression. After a while, every application begins to look the same to the admissions officers. You need to be memorable. You need your application to be the one the admissions officer remembers distinctly.

Memorable can be a lot of things – it can be something quirky, impressive, passionate, different, funny, inspirational, heartbreaking, or even gut-wrenching (if done right). When I applied to MIT, I wrote about how I wanted to be a roller coaster designer – something I was deeply passionate about at the time. Being a roller coaster designer was memorable because it differentiated me from all of the other math and science Olympiad geeks. Other people I know wrote about a variety of memorable topics including starting a video game company, starting a non-profit for teaching underprivileged kids in Latin America, being a member of a rock band, fighting robots, biking cross-country to raise awareness for ALS, and moving to Asia for a semester to learn Tae Kwon Do. At the same time, your topic does not need to be some big, crazy thing. It can be as simple as being drum major in marching band, competing in Science Olympiad or Speech and Debate, or even your struggles with hardships (e.g., the loss of a loved one). There is no perfect answer, and a lot about being memorable is how you write about the topic.

Action: Write down what you are passionate about. Write introduction paragraphs for your top choices. Run them by your friends, your loved ones, and your teachers and ask them, “Is it memorable?” Choose one or two and write the full essay. Submit your essay on Prompt to receive professional feedback from college admission essay experts. We will provide feedback on your topic and help you select the right language to make your essay memorable. Sign up using the code WRITEWELL and you will get a FREE upgrade to a 6 hour turnaround on your first paper.

2)  Be Authentic

It is impossible to be memorable (in a good way) if you are not authentic. Think of your essay as the Miss America Pageant. The running joke is that every candidate is passionate about “world peace.” How many of those beauty pageant candidates do you actually believe? None? The contestants struggle to come across as authentic – you cannot afford to sound insincere.

Do not write about how you want to save starving kids in Africa unless that is truly what you are passionate about in life. I really did want to be a roller coaster designer. It didn’t work out (dammit), but I was true to myself and I got in to MIT because I was both memorable and authentic. It is easy to see right through deceptive writing. You need to carefully select your language to sound sincere and speak from the heart.

Action: Carefully select your language. Review your work and then carefully select your language again. Submit your essay on Prompt to receive professional feedback from college admission essay experts. We will help you select the right language to make sure you come across as authentic. Sign up using the code WRITEWELL and you will get a FREE upgrade to a 6 hour turnaround on your first paper.

3)  Flow, Flow, Flow, Grammar

Flow is one of the keys to a successful essay. You need every sentence to flow together like you are Charles Dickens. Great flow captivates the reader, makes you more memorable, and makes you sound more authentic. You need to review your essay over and over and give your essay to other people to provide feedback on word choice and sentence structure if you want your essay to have amazing flow. Read your essay out loud and make sure it does not sound choppy. You are Shakespeare; the admissions office is your audience.

Do not screw up grammar. Missing a comma here or there is not the end of the world, but including sentence fragments, run-on sentences, using incorrect verbiage, and making spelling mistakes can literally spell your R-E-J-E-C-T-I-O-N. Why? Grammar errors indicate carelessness – a trait no school wants.

Action: Start your essays days (if not weeks or even months) before the essays are due. Review your work over and over. Have your friends, family, and teachers review your essays and provide feedback.  Submit your essay on Prompt to receive professional feedback from college admission essay experts. We will make sure your essay flows well and your grammar rocks. Sign up using the code WRITEWELL and you will get a FREE upgrade to a 6 hour turnaround on your first paper.

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Brad Schiller
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