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.

Next…

  • 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.

Extra Tips:

  • 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.

Mechanical Errors:

  • 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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