When you begin the process of writing your college admissions essays, you may be at the corner of “overwhelmed” and “confused.” What prompt(s) should I choose? Where should I start? How many essays am I going to have to write? These are all questions that may run through your head, especially as you first glance at the oftentimes daunting essay requirements. Have no fear! I feel your pain – but I am here to remind you to 1. Take a yoga breath (it is going to be OK), and that 2. You may actually need to do less writing than you think. Here are my tips and tricks on writing application essays that you can save, reuse and revitalize for the future.
Many college and scholarship essays require you to talk about yourself. Some students have a hard time with this because they fear sounding “full of themselves” in their writing – but as the applicant, you must remember that the admissions or scholarship committee wants to know about your accomplishments, your interests and your goals. My advice is to start with a blank word processing document and begin outlining your passions, achievements, involvement positions, etc. and how they tie into your plans for the future. Let any and all ideas flow from your head. Don’t be afraid to add your personality and voice into your writing; you can always change your wording to create a more formal tone, if needed. In this stage, do not worry about specific prompts or topics; just focus on creating a solid personal story about yourself and your goals. Taking the time to think about your interests, ambitions and plans – and putting these elements into writing – is powerful, and may give you added inspiration and motivation to persevere through the college application process.
Add in the details.
The narrative or “bio” of sorts that you created, your personal statement, will become a versatile piece of writing; you will be able to shorten or lengthen it as needed and update it as you continue to grow. When you are ready to begin writing a specific essay, start with your personal statement and try to relate your goals for the future into the essay prompt or theme. For example, how can your past experiences help you at (insert college or university name here)? How will your experiences at (insert college or university here)/opportunities provided by (insert scholarship here) help you to achieve your goals outlined in your personal statement? These jumping-off points may help you develop ideas and details that relate to the prompt – while still relaying your own passions and plans.
Mix old and new elements.
You may look at an essay prompt and realize you have already written something awesome that could potentially be used again. There is nothing wrong with this, as long as you are reusing your own work – but before you get too excited with the “copy and paste” tools, reread your essay. Are there any phrases or sentences that are not related to the prompt? Is there outdated information? Make sure to remove unnecessary elements that may reveal a lack of revision. In some cases, you may choose to use a specific section or paragraph from an old essay and combine it with a new piece of writing. Other times, you may simply read through older pieces and projects to gain inspiration and insight into a new prompt.
Writing is rewriting.
One of the best pieces of writing advice I have ever gotten was, “Writing is rewriting.” Even with a genuine, firm personal statement and inspiration from past essays, the best writing is a product of rethinking, revising and lots of rereading. Writing college admissions essays – especially feeling overwhelmed with multiple prompts – is a whirlwind. If you feel frustrated and tempted to give up, give yourself a break and look at your essay with fresh eyes. Let someone you trust read your writing and make comments.
When you take a step back, you may find mistakes you never saw before, and you may have the biggest epiphanies about ideas or stories to include. Don’t settle – keep rereading, and keep rewriting until your essay reflects who you are not only as an applicant, but as an individual.
Darcy Schild is a rising sophomore Journalism major at the University of Florida. An Ohio native, Darcy is excited to share her experiences and advice as an out-of-state collegiate. When she's not blogging (at darcyschild.wordpress.com), you can find her critiquing fonts or admiring other people's dogs. Contact her at email@example.com or on Twitter @darcyschild.
Transfer applicants must write powerful essays to get into the colleges of their choice. They should NOT reuse high school college applications essays because the prompts differ and colleges are looking for different qualities.
While colleges still want diverse students, they also want transfer students who have found and explored academic passions, been active on and off campus, and met transfer admissions requirements. Therefore, long transfer essays are much less creative than freshman essays, yet even more powerful tools for admission to desired colleges.
Here is the Common Application transfer prompt:
|Please provide a statement (appr. 250-500 words) that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve.Note: The Common Application essay should be the same for all colleges. Members that wish to review custom essay responses will request them on their Supplement form.|
So as you work on your transfer essays, really focus on the story of your evolution and exploration of your reasons for wanting to transfer. Community college students can write about second chances and the ways community college and various experiences helped them find their academic and career passions. Four year college students can talk about experiences that led to wanting to transfer but please, never ever blame your original college. You can talk about outgrowing a major or wanting a different setting, but never sound bitter.
Most importantly, you should discuss experiences from your college years, including the summer after senior year of high school and between first and second year of community college.
We will be posting other tips for transfers in the following weeks.