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Application Essay Tips

Writing your application essay can seem like an easy task: you’ve written longer papers, there’s no research to do, and the question is straightforward. But you’ve also never written an essay quite like this (unless, of course, you’ve written an application essay before). Use these tips to craft the best statement possible.

1) Brainstorm. Coming up with the right topic can be a long process, often longer than the writing itself. Brainstorm several ideas for each of the prompts you have to choose from (if you do have a choice), and then pick your favorites. Then write a mock essay for each of your favorite ideas. This process can take a few weeks, but it will help you produce a great topic that excites you.

2) Write the way you talk. When you’re writing your first official draft, this is the most important thing to remember. An application essay is about you to a degree that an academic paper is not (or shouldn’t be). Admissions officers read essays because in most cases they won’t be able to talk to you in person. They want to get to know you. Cryptically referred to as “voice,” this is the most important aspect of your essay: the individual style that conveys something of who you are.

3) Enlist your friends and family. They know you best. They’ll be able to tell you if your essay ‘rings true.’ Shop your brainstorming ideas with these people; they’ll be able to help you decide which one suits you. Finally, you can engage their help in the editing process; it can be hard to get the distance you need for editing when you’ve written the essay yourself 

4) Proofread, again. Maybe once more. There’s no such thing as too much proofreading. It’s not a long document, so put in the work. Typos aren’t the end of the world, but a bad one can cast a small pall over your essay if an admissions officer catches it. They’re looking for them. Enlist your friends and family once again. A fresh set of eyes is necessary: you’d be surprised what you can miss on your fifth onceover.


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