Winning College Essays

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Reading the college essay topics for what seems to be the hundredth time, he searches in vain for an event, challenge, accomplishment, obstacle, interest or talent about which to write.

For a fleeting moment, he laments the absence of a personal tragedy to exploit while he sits with the cursor flashing—a pulsating symbol of perplexity.   Especially tormented are the perfectionists, you dutiful students who view the college essay as just one more roadblock to be overcome with sheer will.

The best way to tell is to have your parents or a friend give a draft of your essay to a colleague or individual who has never met you.

  Ask them to read the essay and then respond with three adjectives that describe you and a sentence that captures what they learned. If not, it is back to the drawing board.“Am I done?

Who are you outside the constraints that are placed upon you by school, parents, friends, and society?

How do you demonstrate character in your own unique ways? Not quite—writing about one’s self is perhaps one of the greatest challenges in college admission, especially for the overachieving perfectionist.

Most admission committees are looking for capable and competitive students academically—once academic ability is vetted, an essay plays an important role in helping committees build their class with interesting classmates and roommates.

Committees aren't looking for the perfect essay, topic, or set of activities and achievements—we simply want an interesting, authentic, and well-written glimpse into a student's life.

Erik De Angelis, associate director of admission at Brown University advises, "don't fall into the trap of telling us why you're a great fit for our school by telling us all about our school. Tell us how you'd take advantage of the resources and experiences available at our school.

Don't spend precious word space impressing us with your knowledge of the school, rather present your argument for how you envision yourself participating in academic and social life at the school."                                                         The moral to the college essay is that there need not be a moral.

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