Finalizing the Essays
January 1 not only marks the beginning of the new year, but for most high school seniors, it’s the final deadline for submitting their college applications. It’s the end of the first stage of College Application Season. (Stage II, the waiting period, is another story–and undoubtedly another blog post!)
How can anyone be sure an essay is ready to send?
I’m asked this great question a lot. The following five guidelines can help alleviate at least some of the doubt:
- Make sure you have answered the question posed in the writing prompt. Although this sounds easy, it can be tricky. The real question is not merely what the prompt asks, but what it seeks. Think about why the writing prompt was posed. If you have helped the admissions officers learn something introspective about you, you have done well.
- Make sure you haven’t made any technical mistakes. There is no excuse for bad spelling or grammar. The essays have a limited word count, so make sure your writing is filled with what you want to convey and not just padding. Remember, your views will impress, but “a collection of words” will not. A well written essay is easy and enjoyable to read.
- Make sure it doesn’t sound as though it could have come from John or Jane Doe, high school senior. The essay is not a test for which one regurgitates right or wrong answers. It is a means for colleges to learn more about their prospective students. Make sure to convey a story that is YOURS.
- Make sure you have opening and closing paragraphs that grab the reader’s attention. This is not an academic essay, so do not open with a thesis statement. Try to be memorable or mildly entertaining for the admissions officer, who must read hundreds, if not thousands, of these essays during a short time period. Don’t sound crazy, but don’t sound bland either. Make the admissions officers want to read your essay, and finish it in a way in which they will remember it.
- Make sure YOU like it. If you are confident that it reveals a side of you that your test scores and GPA can’t begin to show, you are on the right track!
I hope my guidelines are helpful. Let me know one way or another. Your feedback is extremely valuable to me.
Happy New Year! Now do what’s necessary to confidently hit that send button!