I’m sure that by now most everyone has heard of the infamous ‘Costco Essay’. For those not in the know, an American high-schooler named Brittany Stinson was accepted into all 5 Ivy League schools after submitting an essay detailing her trips to Costco – from her fascination over the store’s churros and TVs to her future achievements during her high school years, it was an essay that not only showed her skills, but her originality, her creativity, and, most importantly, herself. (If you’d like to read her essay, click here!) Writing college application essays can be a daunting task but with the following tips in mind, you can start creating essays that will get you into the right schools.
1. ANSWER THE QUESTION
Probably the most critical tip of the bunch! It doesn’t matter how great your essay will be after following all the other tips below – if you don’t answer the question, admissions officers won’t consider your essay!
2. BE STRUCTURED
Take your time on your essay. Brainstorm ideas, and then brainstorm again. Take care to format your essay, and remember to develop each part and neglect nothing. Rushed essays are subpar essays – start as early as you can and keep revising as you go. You shouldn’t just have one draft; you should have a million.
3. FOCUS ON THE INTRO
College admissions officers go through hundreds and hundreds of essays on the daily. Your introduction should grab them from the get-go. Spend the most time on this part, because if it isn’t memorable, there’s a good chance the rest of your essay won’t be.
4. BE PERSONAL
Write about something you believe in. Write about an experience you’ve had. Write about your struggles, your achievements, and your thoughts. Don’t pander to the audience and write about something you don’t feel strongly about or can’t relate to; not only will you struggle with coming up with an idea, your essay won’t evoke a sense of you that you want.
5. BE CONCISE
Most essays have a relatively high word count limit, but that doesn’t mean you should reach it. It’s important that your essay be concise – don’t babble, and keep your one topic narrow. Don’t include unnecessary prose or details if they aren’t relevant to the point you are trying to make; it won’t work out for you in the end.
6. BE YOURSELF
Your essay is supposed to show who you are, so when writing it, you need to inject as much of your personality and thoughts into it as possible. Be yourself; that’s who they want to meet. Don’t try to go for another writer’s style or write about an idea you do not believe in or feel strongly towards – that’ll show through, and your essay will lose credibility.
7. USE OTHERS
From family members to professionals, it’s important to get a third party opinion on your essay. Use other people to help you proofread, or as a soundboard to bounce off ideas and sentences off of. It’ll help shape your essay into something both personal and well written.
Gabriella de Guzman is an intern at Edukasyon.ph. Manila-born, her family made the move to Canada when she was 10 years old, where she has lived ever since. Gabby is currently an undergraduate at McGill University, studying International Development and Psychology.