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How to Write College Entrance Essays

Your entrance essay – how to make yourself stand out?

One of tasks that high school grads put off is the entrance or introductory essay. Along with being a daunting writing task, it’s also a common problem for people to write something that demands that they “sell themselves.” So Search4Edu compiled a list of tips and common sense to help take the fear out of finishing this necessary step to starting school in the fall.

• Take the time to write your best. This is a planned project, not a diary entry.

• Start your brainstorm by reading personal journals, papers, or a series of correspondence from old friends for topic ideas.

• Ask a few close friends if something you find interesting about your experiences is interesting to others. Present possible topics to your friends, family and teachers for feedback.

• Don’t write yourself as a superhero. Use your faults and failures to show how you learned from them or how these have made you a better person.

• On the flipside, don’t be too modest. Let your written voice be confident, but not conceited or arrogant. Self-deprecating humor can keep your reader interested and sympathetic.

• Think about what makes you different and how these differences make you appealing. How would you present yourself as a unique person to someone you just met? Present these unique qualities as if you were just meeting your admissions counselor face-to-face.

• If a college requires two essays, you can take a greater risk with the subject matter in the second one. If you only submit one essay, generally it is better to be more straightforward with it and present your strongest subject with a direct and engaging style.

• Consult books and web sites about writing tips, but don’t directly use the material for something as important as an entrance exam.

• Write more than you need. It’s easier to edit down to stronger material than it is to make up additional material and insert it later. Often times this will clutter the narrative of the original.

• Put aside your rough draft for at least 24 hours. When you come back and read over it again, make notes of what you think should change about it. Then before making changes, have a trustworthy person read it and tell you what they think. If there’s a correlation of things you noted and they mentioned, make these changes first.

• Capture attention early. Start your essay with action words and phrases and make your voice “active.” The difference between active and passive would be:

Active – “I was determined to compile the best data possible, which helped me win the Science Fair.”
Passive – “The Science Fair prize was awarded to me because of my data compiling and determination.”

• Give a strong impression of yourself and what you’re capable of at the conclusion of the essay, not just a summary.

• As a pretty good writer once observed, “Brevity is wit.” This means short and actively voiced essays entertain people more. So if the rules about essay submission aren’t exactly clear, try to keep your essay under 500 words.

• Common sense alert! Proofread your essay several times for errors! Spelling and punctuation are being watched for carefully on the other end.

• Be creative and most of all, be yourself!


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