What Are College Essay Readers Looking For

The overflowing sense of hyper-reality in Tim O’Brien’s words of warfare spills into my world.

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Like a captain frantically seeking port in a storm, I haul myself through the turbulent ocean of people, trying to avoid being stranded – or trampled – in the dustiest city in the world: Beijing, capital of both China and smog. It is the summer of 2012, and Shanghai isn’t to be home for much longer. Unsettled, I turn to my ever-present book for comfort.

Luckily, I board my train with seconds to spare, and without being turned into a pancake – always a plus. In another week I will cross the globe to start a new life in a foreign land called Charlotte. Today it is by Tim O’Brien, already worn and slightly crumpled.

And before you send it off, check, check again, and then triple check to make sure your essay is free of spelling or grammar errors.

Rob Franek, Editor-in-Chief at The Princeton Review, is the company's primary authority on higher education.

Admissions officers have to read an unbelievable number of college essays, most of which are forgettable.

Defining A Family Essay - What Are College Essay Readers Looking For

Many students try to sound smart rather than sounding like themselves.We caution against one-liners, limericks and anything off–color. Put yourself in the shoes of an admissions officer: Is the essay interesting? Don't reuse an answer to a similar question from another application.A teacher or college counselor is your best resource.Others write about a subject that they don't care about, but that they think will impress admissions officers.You don't need to have started your own business or have spent the summer hiking the Appalachian Trail.America owns my childhood, filled with pine trees, blockbuster movies, and Lake Tahoe snow; China holds my adolescence, accompanied by industrial smog, expeditious mobility, and fast-paced social scenes. My reverie isn’t at an end, but I have the answer to my question.Home is neither arrival nor departure, neither America nor China.They say the best books tell you what you already know, resonating with your own thoughts and emotions.As I read, it is as if the tempest of my thoughts is spelled out on paper.One great way to get started is to read examples of successful essays.Reading sample college essays gives you great ideas and helps to illustrate what is expected from a good college essay.

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