Writing the College Essay: Pizzazz and Razzmatazz

Attention!!...is exactly what your admissions essay should grab. In today's post Linda Abraham offers three great techniques to add a little panache to your application essays.

That title got your attention. And that's what you want your essay to do when the reader looks into your file. Let's examine techniques, other than kitschy titles, for creating interest. Specifically let's look at surprise, irony, and suspense.

Surprise- Start your essay in an unexpected manner. For example, open an essay about your background by starting with yesterday or tomorrow, but make sure you spend most of the essay answering the question and discussing your past.

Irony- "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times." Dickens understood that irony grabs interest and opened the classic Tale of Two Cities with that intriguing line. Learn from the master. Are you writing about someone who influenced you greatly? Are you in certain ways different from your mentor? Highlight the contrasts and differences, while saying that he or she was the greatest influence on you. Was your proudest accomplishment conceived in failure? Open with the failure and discuss how that failure led to your later success. Use the irony and contrast inherent in these situations to grab attention and tell your story.

Suspense-Arouse curiosity by using suspense. Ask a question at the beginning of your essay, but don't answer it until the end.

Implicit in these suggestions: don't start with the common or expected. Don't begin your goals essay or statement of purpose with, "I want to be a doctor because" or "I was born in a..."

Let your essays grab your readers' attention so that they will read your essay because they want to and not because they have to.

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