What’s one way to stand out in a crowd of qualified students?
Experts say well-crafted application essays can get an admissions officer to take notice and propel an applicant to the top of the heap.
For Peterfriend, one essay that stood out came from a student who taught skiing to a disabled and nonverbal child.
He wrote about how they communicated, and how he felt when he got to see the child ski down his first slope.
North and the USA TODAY Network New Jersey asked experts to provide tips on how to write a great college essay, from brainstorming ideas to proofreading the final product.
Some colleges ask for a personal statement, and others provide a choice of topics, or prompts, for a student to write about.Colleges are not looking for an ego boost here; they did not ask you this question for you to simply tell them how great they are. Instead, you should think of this question as “Why are we a perfect match for each other?” In doing so, you should be conveying who you are and why they have what you want.She described the steps she took to try to find and fix the source of the problem while weaving in details about herself.The engaging, well-written essay showed the student’s tenacity in handling a problem, Youn said.“A great essay has the combination of two main points: storytelling and an experience where the student is trying to put the reader in their shoes,” she said.But the essay does not have to center around a major event.“It can be small moments told in an interesting or novel way — something that tells about their character,” said Deborah Shames, a college counselor in Upper Saddle River.“Sometimes the smallest moments make the best essays.”Experts advise students to steer clear of overused themes, like winning a big game with seconds on the clock.“It’s a great story, but admissions reps are reading so many essays," so the theme or story must be different enough to capture their attention, Peterfriend said.Students should instead aim to write a story that is uncommon, or told from a unique perspective — one that delivers a bigger message or reveals information about the student.“It’s different writing than they’re used to,” Peterfriend said.While this may seem like a relatively straightforward question, it can be surprisingly challenging to navigate. Every other UC school, the south, and about a thousand other places.To really nail this question you’ll have to be well-prepared, thoughtful, and organized, so in this blog post we’ve laid out the key principles to writing a great “Why us? The worst possible thing an applicant can do is turn this essay into a laundry list of generic reasons for choosing a school. “I want to attend Michigan because it is a big research university with great sports”…just like every other Big 10 school and countless others.