Everything that you’ve heard about writing college admissions essays is probably BS.
I’m obviously not the authority on writing college admissions essays, but I do have experience writing a lot of them. I’ve written more than 21 different essays for each college, so it makes me at least sort of knowledgeable on the subject.
Step One: The Prompt
When writing my essays, I have to read the prompt very carefully. Analyze it as deeply as you can, and understand what they are asking you for. Then, try to think of all the different types of responses you could submit.
For example, for a prompt asking about a school’s honor code, you could go down an analytic route– speaking about the school’s honor code in depth, but not focusing on how it affects your life. Or, you could write anecdotically, telling stories about how you’ve upheld that school’s honor code.You could definitely also do both, which is a little bit harder, because you have to achieve the perfect balance of each topic.
Step Two: Brainstorm
Just brain fart on the paper, basically. What you want is a mixture of all your different ideas, so that you know what would work and what won’t. Afterwards, when you know what you want in an essay: the tone, diction, organization and format, you can pick and choose what you want from your brain fart on paper. Make sure to choose the parts that are most consistent with your application.
For example, my applications always included some aspect of my interest in social justice, and my love for the classics. So, no matter what the essay topic is, make sure you’re able to make yourself known as the most qualified _____ of the applicant pool. I branded myself as the most qualified POC dedicated, but quirky classicist social justice warrior in any applicant pool.
It’s worked so far, I’m into all the colleges I’ve heard back from. (I guess good grades would also do the trick, but if you don’t have great grades, the essays can make or break you!)
Step Three: Edit.
I use Grammarly. It’s one of my favorite Chrome extensions, and apps of all time. Honestly, I probably would not have passed high school without this. This app is able to determine different grammatical mistakes, faux pas, and even has spell check!
It’s the only thing that automatically gives me better word choices and even allows me to define words without leaving my page or browser.
Every week I get an email with my stats of the week: how many words I checked, how many mistakes I made and what my biggest grammatical issues were.
If you upgrade to Premium, Grammarly will also check plagiarism, check and correct the passive voice, and so many other things.
This app has helped me get through so many college applications, and I’m able to not worry about my grammar because Grammarly will check it for me. I even tried it out by making really obscure grammar mistakes (like with the Oxford comma), and it still worked!
These are my tips for writing your college supplements. Some of these tips are really obvious, like checking your grammar. Some, like making sure all of your application is consistent is a little bit more work than just running an essay through Grammarly.
I wish all of you luck in writing your essays, and applying to college!