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Seniors! Start That Essay!

Ok seniors. For those of you that have been waiting for crunch time, it is here. Those college application due dates are going to start coming at you really fast so you want to get as prepared as you can. If you have not already started your essay, now is the time.

All colleges will have common things they look for in a personal essay. Admissions people will be reading hundreds of essays and yours needs to stand out. What are some of the things they will be looking for?

Creativity.  Are you writing in a creative way or are you writing a history book? Don’t make your essay read like a history book. Be creative in what you write.

Enthusiasm for Learning. Do you sound like someone who really wants to go toessay school or just someone that is “going through the motions?” Why do you want to go to school? What do you hope to accomplish?

Recognition. Readers want to see that you have been recognized as a leader in academics, community, athletics or anything else that you can think of. Don’t make a list here though. These achievements will be on another part of your application so just select one or two that stand out.

Ability to Overcome. Perhaps you have a disability or you have overcome a particularly difficult family situation. They want to see that you can stick to things and overcome adversity. They want to know you won’t give up and leave the college as soon as it gets a little tough. College is not going to be easy for anyone and they want to know you can make it.

Exposure to Other Cultures.  Most colleges are very diverse places. Have you had experience in interacting with other cultures?  Have you traveled or perhaps you have attended a very diverse high school?  Some high school have a dozen or more languages spoken there. Have you attended one of those? Have you volunteered in your community where you can show some exposure to diversity?

Rare Talents. Are you talented in music, art, dance or sports? Great! What have you done? Give them some accomplishments in these areas. Perhaps you qualified for state in track or you were the captain of the state champion volleyball team. Maybe you qualified for all-state band, orchestra or choir. Have you performed musically on stage in the community?

Remember that you have to make yourself interesting. When someone reads your paper make them want to meet you. Be someone they want to have at their campus and get to know. You don’t have to make things up! Just write about yourself in an interesting way. You have probably already listed your awards and accomplishments on another part of their application and while you want to put your awards in here, make this paper more about you personally. Make them see why you want to attend their campus!

Be careful about having too many people give you input on your paper! The more people you have give you input, the more watered down it may become. Just have two or three people give you input. If you have more than three you will become confused and it will not end up being your own!

What else do you need to do now?

© 2015 Roger D. Chamberlain

Roger Chamberlain
Roger Chamberlain works for a university helping low income and under represented high school students prepare for and be successful in college.
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