Application Essay Tips
When writing about yourself and/or your experiences:
- Let your writing show who you are and how your experiences have formed you.
- Colleges want to know what you think and feel. Place emphasis on how your experiences and ideas relate to your goals and outlook on life.
- Be specific and write with clarity.
To Get Started:
- List your activities and awards for the past four years. Indicate dates or length of time involved.
- Record major travel experiences.
- List a challenge you confronted successfully.
- List an accomplishment you had to struggle to achieve.
- Think of “words of wisdom” you have heard. Describe how those words have shaped your life.
- List some of your personality traits and tell how they have helped you in life.
- Describe people that have motivated you in your life.
Writing First Drafts:
- Allow thinking time between your jottings and your first draft.
- Make a free-form outline.
- Talk with others about possible topics.
- Set aside a block of time (at least two hours) to see what comes to mind.
- Decide what is working and what is not.
- Let your draft sit for a few days before looking over it again.
- Read it aloud.
- Ask yourself questions.
- Trust your intuition.
- Let others read it.
- Keep your audience in mind.
- Be honest and direct – don’t write long-winded sentences.
- Use specific details to show how and why.
- Give yourself time. Good writing takes more than a single draft.
Avoid the Following Essay Writing Mistakes:
- Not answering the question. Many applicants write quality essays, but don’t actually address the question.
- Not having a thesis. Without a main idea, the essay will appear disorganized and rambling.
- Topic is too broad. The essay should be focused.
- Not revealing something about the author. The essay, regardless of the topic, needs to reveal something about the author.
- Being too ordinary. The topic needs to be unique or the approach needs to be creative.
For more information, contact the Counseling Office at (502) 895-9427
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