Tips for a Great College Admissions Essay
It’s your child’s junior or senior year of high school, and they’ve come a long way! You encouraged them as they tackled quadratic equations, cheering them on until their solution finally matched the answer key. You woke them up before sunrise to get in their daily mile—and now their cross country medals hang on their bedroom wall. You even ran to the store to buy circus peanuts and Fruit by the Foot so they could bake a eukaryotic cell cake for their science project.
You’ve seen firsthand how much work they’ve put in, and now you want to ensure that the college admissions committee sees it, too.
A great college admissions essay is the perfect opportunity for your student to stand out! Your hopeful college-bound student might feel anxious about this important part of their application, but we have some tips to help! How important is the admissions essay?
You and your child have put nearly twelve years of effort into their grades, test scores, and extracurriculars—and with good reason! These are going to be the bulk of the student’s application. Therefore, why is it so important to have a great college admissions essay?
When every applicant has As and Bs, has taken the same number of honors classes, and is within the same SAT score range, it’s hard for the admissions team to tell who will be the most successful. On paper, many applicants look pretty similar.
A stand-out admissions essay will paint a well-rounded portrait of the student, set them apart from other applicants, and demonstrate why they are a good fit for a specific school.
**How can my teen shine in their admissions essay? **
1. Choose a topic that sets them apart.
What are your teen’s long-term goals? What motivates them? Where do they excel above others? For example, maybe your daughter has had an entrepreneurial spirit since elementary school. Perhaps your son has been passionate about helping animals since he adopted his first dog from the shelter.
Your student will be able to choose from one of several prompts. When reading through them, help them choose one that will allow them to tell the most compelling story.
2. Use anecdotes and memories.
What words would you use to describe your student? Innovative, talented, hardworking, artistic? Encourage your child to reveal their strengths through examples that show them.
Brief stories sprinkled throughout the essay can add credibility and endear a committee to a student. For example, did your young entrepreneur blow the other Girl Scouts out of the water with her cookie sales? Has your son dutifully volunteered at the hospital for the past three years? Your child is sure to have a memorable essay when they are sharing brief stories. Those that illustrate character and passion or how they have overcome obstacles to reach their goals will take their essay from standard to stellar.
3. Edit. Then, edit some more.
Submitting a well-organized essay, free of grammatical errors and punctuation mistakes, is crucial. Remember that strong oral and written communication skills are necessary no matter what subject your student wants to study in college.
Start with self-editing. After your child finishes a draft, advise them to take a break or even return to their essay the next day to reread it with fresh eyes. Then, they can read the whole essay aloud to catch clumsy or too-long sentences.
Finally, get feedback from others. Teachers, tutors, and other students are great resources. They can hone in on parts of the essay that are particularly interesting and may benefit from elaboration, or they can find sentences that don’t quite fit in. Once your student adds and subtracts some of these elements, check it over again for grammar and punctuation.
Still honing those writing skills? Best in Class offers English enrichment and ACT/SAT prep programs to help high school students prepare for higher education and beyond. Contact us today to find out how to get your student started!