What is a College Admissions Essay?



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What is a College Admissions Essay?

  • Also called a Personal Statement
  • An essay that helps the college admissions board better understand who you are
  • Focuses on who you are vs. what you’ve done

What a College Admissions Essay is NOT

  • A resumé or list of what you’ve done

Top 10 Things Colleges Look For in a High School Student

  • Challenging classes (AP/Honors/College Classes)
  • Good grades
  • Good test scores (ACT/SAT)
  • Demonstration of leadership/initiative
  • Community service
  • Work or out-of-school experiences (demonstrates responsibility, dedication, and maturity)
  • Well written admissions essay
  • Good letters of recommendation (integrity/skills/character)
  • Supplementary recommendations
  • Things that make you stand out (honors/awards/talents/experiences)

Sample Essay

Sample Essay

Table Talk

  • Discuss the strengths of the previous essay.

Comments from a College Advisor

Follow Directions

  • Read and follow directions carefully.
  • Answer all parts of the writing prompt.
  • Adhere to word count limits.
    • UC system = 1,000 words for 2 essays
        • Approximately 750 words for one essay
        • Approximately 250 words for the other essay
          • About ¾ typed page (1 inch margins, double-spaced)

Bloopers From College Essays

  • If there was a single word to describe me, that word would be “profectionist”
  • I was abducted into the national honor society
  • I want to be bilingual in three or more languages
  • I would love to attend a college where the foundation was built on women

UC Writing Prompts

  • Prompt #1
  • Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.
  • Prompt #2
  • Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?

Tips For Writing Your College Admissions Essay

  • Start Early. Leave plenty of time to revise, reword, and rewrite. Have others read your essay and give input. Wait several days after drafting your essay to reread it and begin revision. You will see errors that you didn’t see while drafting it in the first place. Try reading your essay aloud or reading it backwards from the last sentence to the first. This will help make the errors stand out.

Tips For Writing Your College Admissions Essay

  • Read the directions and writing prompt carefully. Address the writing prompt completely. Pay attention to words limits.

Tips For Writing Your College Admissions Essay

  • Be honest about yourself and write from the heart. Make sure your personality is coming through. Don’t simply write what you think others want to hear.

Tips For Writing Your College Admissions Essay

  • Focus on your strengths. Think of the essay like it’s a personal interview. Focus more on who you are than what you’ve done. This is not a résumé. Don’t list everything you already listed on your application. Your experiences are important, but let the focus be on how those experiences have shaped who you are. How have these experiences helped you demonstrate creativity, tenacity, self-discipline, motivation, leadership, volunteerism, intellectual achievement, sincerity, a good work ethic, etc. Write about a few of these. Also discuss any talents you have.

Tips For Writing Your College Admissions Essay

  • Take a risk. “The danger lies not in writing a bad essay but in writing a common essay-the ones that admission officers are going to read dozens of,” says Scott Anderson, associate director of college counseling at Mercersburg Academy, P.A. Avoid clichés and trite statements. Don’t try to be too witty, too opinionated, or too intellectual.

Tips For Writing Your College Admissions Essay

  • If you have hardships (financial struggles, personal setbacks, etc.), discuss how you have overcome them. How have you grown from the experience(s)? Avoid “The Four Ds” (Death, Drugs, Drinking, and Depression)

Tips For Writing Your College Admissions Essay

  • Show, don’t tell. In your personal essay you want to avoid making overt statements about your character such as “I’m a great person” or “I’m responsible, hardworking, intelligent, caring, creative, and a leader.” Your goal is to show your qualities in the form of a story, not merely in a list. Let the reader conclude that you are wonderful without actually saying it.

Tips For Writing Your College Admissions Essay

  • Come up with a catchy first sentence to get the reader’s attention. If it grabs the reader’s attention, the reader will be encouraged to read on.

Personal Inventory

College Admissions Essay



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