Our 4 Strongest Tips for the College Essay Process


Dear College Made Simple Reader,

Right now, all over the country, college-bound seniors are working their way through the college application process.

For so many, the process is all-consuming, especially when it comes to the personal essay (which many times can be 3-5 pages long).

After all, it can come down to the essay to literally make or break your chances of getting into the school of your dreams.

Whether it’s the Common Application or the school’s own application (the Universal Application doesn’t require an essay), a good essay could get a student over the hump into the school; a bad one could hurt the chances of an otherwise strong candidate.

So how does your student get their college essay to stand out from all the others? Keep reading…

– Scott

Our 4 Strongest Tips for the College Essay Process

1. The Essay Format

The opening line in the introductory paragraph is your make-or-break opportunity with the admissions counselor. Capture his or her attention with an interesting thought… and close the lead paragraph with a statement that opens up the essay’s main point.

The next few paragraphs or so are the example copy: the specific, vivid details that illustrate the essay’s theme.

Close the essay with a single paragraph: a conclusion of insights and takeaways.

2. Intellectual Curiosity

Specificity matters. Rather than state academic interest in English and the classics, explain your specific interest in The Great Gatsby, for example.

To be even more specific – and to be distinguishable from the competition – draw some parallel between the book and an observation your child has made.

3. The Right Way To Edit and Proofread

The normal college essay contains many unnecessary words. After your student has taken his or her mind off it for a few days, read back through the essay and remove any words and statements that don’t need to be there.

Also remember that “meandering” statements are admissions killers. Why use 30 words if you only need 10? Proofreading: Spell check the essay, then ask someone with a better knowledge of grammar than you to read the essay… red pen in hand.

4. Be Honest

Be aware that colleges are increasingly using plagiarism checking technologies to monitor essays turned in by prospective students.

In fact, one such technology sniffs out essay plagiarism on the internet well enough that it’s being used in schools all over the world.

Best of luck on your students’ essays…

Scott Weingold
Co-founder, College Planning Network, LLC

Publisher, College Made Simple – The Free Educational Resource of College Planning Network, LLC

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