3 Instant Improvements for Your College Essay

Having trouble writing or editing your college application essay? These three tips will make your words come alive.

Need some help getting started on those college essays?

You've come to the right place. The following 3 tips will help you turn that blank computer screen into 500 words of introspective, intelligent prose. Here's how to get your brilliant, creative juices flowing:

THINK about your tale as a narrative. You're all high school seniors; by now you should have studied the narrative arc - build your story to its climactic conflict and then conclude with the resolution. In the tale that you share in your college essay, make sure you spend adequate time introducing your protagonist (that's you!) through the description of your conflict. You'll reach your resolution by talking about how that conflict enabled you to change or grow.

FOCUS on creating an original resolution. Adcom readers have read all the conflicts in the book: "The dying grandfather's last wishes," "the irrational boss," "training for the marathon" - these have all been usedmultiple times. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't use that little moments in time if that's what will serve as the kernel for a great story. A compelling essay doesn't rely on the actual topic for success, but on the way in which the writer approaches that topic. Start with a small moment in time - even if it's not the most original moment - and then build a groundbreaking story through the retelling of how you reacted, responded, and grew as a person as a result of that moment.

START small. Are you still struggling to get words on paper? Is the prospect of filling the 500 word requirement intimidating? Try and ignore the word count and simply focus on writing a few sentences. During this brainstorming phase, you should write 2-3 sentences each on whatever topics pop into your head. Then, sit back and read your snippets - does any one stand out? Congratulations - you've just started your college essay!

One last word of advice: Start those essays now. A successful college essay isn't written overnight, and it's certainly not written the day of the deadline. Now is when you have time to think about your stories and to contemplate how you can best present yourself in the narrative arc. Think, focus, and start!

For more great college admissions advice, please visit the Accepted Admissions Blog. Good luck with your applications!

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