Winning College Essays

How do you demonstrate character in your own unique ways? Not quite—writing about one’s self is perhaps one of the greatest challenges in college admission, especially for the overachieving perfectionist.The following are tips for these applicants in developing an authentic, impactful college essay: Don’t read the essay questions, read yourself.Most conformists will stifle their unique voice by attempting to respond to the specific prompts that the Common Application provides.  If all else fails you can default to the last prompt, which is essentially topic of your choice. Do not write your way into the essay by simply restating the initial prompt or question.Instead, put the reader in the moment by painting a picture and then elaborate on why it is important.You are writing a personal narrative, not a parable, so don’t feel compelled to conclude with a lesson learned or a happy ending. When you have finished a draft of your essay, read it over and ask yourself why you wrote it.If you cannot answer this question, you might not be going deep enough or painting a vivid picture of who you are and what is important to you. Have you effectively communicated who you are and what you value?” This is the perfectionist’s calling card in seeking validation that the essay is good enough.Students often ask if they should work on another draft or if their essay is sufficiently polished.It is a test to see if you can get out of your head and open your heart.It is an exercise in exploring self—what makes you who you are, not who everyone thinks you should be.

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