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A Strong College Application essay Will make you stand out from the crowd.

❶But one day this fall, Dr. At the end, you'll have a unique essay that you'll proudly submit to your top choice colleges.

2. Stand out

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Tips for a Stellar College Application Essay
What Excellent College Essays Have in Common

Your essay is the time to spice up your application. For instance, Jackson, a Division III student-athlete, wrote about the time he injured his ankle in tennis, only to go through extensive and excruciatingly painful rehab to finally get back on the court, where, on his first day back, he injured his other ankle.

While revealing any imperfection in a college essay may seem contradictory to the goal of convincing a college to admit you, it often showcases your best qualities. For example, the fact that Jackson was able to stick with tennis and rehab after all of these trials shows that he is persistent and strong. It was more about reflecting on my past experiences and seeing where they got me today.

Rachel, a student at James Madison University , recalls her Common Application essay with pride, because she was true to herself in everything she wrote. She wanted her favorite place to be her own. So Rachel wrote about swing sets. Additionally, using swings as her favorite place gave her a lot of imagery to work with in her essay, because she could literally describe what being on the swings felt like.

The important lesson to take away here is that if you are truthful and genuine in your essay, it will be easy to write about. Your entire college application talks about who you were in high school. Admission officers see what activities you did in high school, what classes you took in high school, and what scores you got—you guessed it—in high school. While these things are important, so much of your personality forms as a child too. My friend Caroline, who was accepted to schools such as George Mason University , Wittenberg University , and Seattle University , wrote about how interest in exploration started as a child.

A great essay can help you get accepted to your dream school. A mediocre essay can contribute to rejection. We want to help you write that great essay and get accepted.

We've compiled a list of college application essay examples to use as a springboard for you own reflection and creativity. Pay close attention to the consistent format of these pieces:. Give the admissions committee adcom readers a clear picture of you as an individual, a student, and an graduate who will make them proud. Bridget the Fixer-Upper will be slightly different than the imaginary one who paints houses and fetches Frisbees. I was lucky enough to discover what I am passionate about when I was a freshman in high school.

On my first day, I learned that it was for developmentally-disabled students. To be honest, I was really nervous. I hadn't had too much interaction with special needs students before, and wasn't sure how to handle myself around them. Long story short, I got hooked. Three years have passed helping out in APE and eventually becoming a teacher in the Applied Behavior Analysis summer program. I love working with the students and watching them progress.

When senior year arrived, college meetings began, and my counselor asked me what I wanted to do for a career, I didn't say Emperor of the World. Instead, I told him I wanted to become a board-certified behavior analyst. A BCBA helps develop learning plans for students with autism and other disabilities. Basically, I would get to do what I love for the rest of my life. He laughed and told me that it was a nice change that a seventeen-year-old knew so specifically what she wanted to do.

I smiled, thanked him, and left. But it occurred to me that, while my desired occupation was decided, my true goal in life was still to become a Fixer-Upper. I'll do one thing during the day, then spend my off-hours helping people where I can. Instead of flying like Sue, though, I'll opt for a nice performance automobile.

My childhood self would appreciate that. Bridget takes a somewhat different approach than Stephen, but her essay is just as detailed and engaging. Let's go through some of the strengths of her essay. The essay is arranged chronologically.

Bridget starts each paragraph with a clear signpost of where we are in time:. I wanted to become a board-certified behavior analyst. It helps that the metaphor is a very clear one: Every childhood Fixer-Upper ever.

Ask your parents to explain the back row to you. This essay uses many techniques that make Bridget sound genuine and make the reader feel like we already know her. The second technique is the way Bridget coins her own terms, carrying them through the whole essay.

It would be easy enough to simply describe the people she imagined in childhood as helpers or assistants, and to simply say that as a child she wanted to rule the world. The third technique is to use sentences of varying length, syntax, and structure. Most of the essay's written in standard English and uses grammatically correct sentences. However, at key moments, Bridget emphasizes that the reader needs to sit up and pay attention by switching to short, colloquial, differently punctuated, and sometimes fragmented sentences.

The last key moment that gets the small-sentence treatment is the emotional crux of the essay. As we watch Bridget go from nervously trying to help disabled students to falling in love with this specialty field, she undercuts the potential sappiness of the moment by relying on changed-up sentence length and slang: The best essays convey emotions just as clearly as this image.

Explain the car connection better. The essay begins and ends with Bridget's enjoying a car ride, but this doesn't seem to be related either to the Fixer-Upper idea or to her passion for working with special-needs students.

It would be great to either connect this into the essay more, or to take it out altogether and create more space for something else. It makes perfect sense that Bridget doesn't want to put her students on display. It would take the focus off of her and possibly read as offensive or condescending. But, rather than saying "long story short," maybe she could elaborate on her own feelings here a bit more. What is it about this kind of teaching that she loves?

What is she hoping to bring to the lives of her future clients? How can you use this discussion to better your own college essay? Here are some suggestions for ways to use this resource effectively. Make a note whenever you find an essay or part of an essay that you think was particularly well-written, and think about what you like about it. Does it help you really get to know the writer?

Does it show what makes the writer unique? Once you have your list, keep it next to you while writing your essay to remind yourself to try and use those same techniques in your own essay. When you figure out how all the cogs fit together, you'll be able to build your own All of these essays rely on connecting with the reader through a heartfelt, highly descriptive scene from the author's life. It can either be very dramatic did you survive a plane crash?

Either way, it should be personal and revealing about you, your personality, and the way you are now that you are entering the adult world.

Let me level with you: And in order to have time to rewrite, you have to start way before the application deadline. Let it sit for a few days untouched. Then come back to it with fresh eyes and think critically about what you've written. What is in the wrong place? What doesn't make sense? Don't be afraid to take it apart and rearrange sections. Do this several times over, and your essay will be much better for it!

Interested in learning more about college essays? Working on the rest of your application? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:. Anna scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, and went on to major in English at Princeton and to get her doctorate in English Literature at Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education. You should definitely follow us on social media.

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In this article, I’ll go through general guidelines for what makes great college essays great. I've also compiled an enormous list of + actual sample college essays from 13 different schools. Finally, I’ll break down two of these published college essay examples and explain why and how they work.

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Writing your college application essay is difficult. And the stakes are high. A great essay can help you get accepted to your dream school. A mediocre essay can contribute to rejection. We want to help you write that great essay and get accepted. Top Successful College Essays. Get into the college of your dreams! We hope these essays inspire you as you write your own personal statement. Just remember to be .

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College essays are important because they let you reveal your personality. Learn how brainstorming and planning can help you write your best college essays. 10 Tips for Writing the College Application Essay Don't sweat this part of the process, but do be prepared with a good topic and concise writing.