Think about getting yourself into a meditative state for 20 minutes and just write from the heart. To get myself in a meditative state, I spend 60 seconds set an alarm drawing a spiral.
Never let the pen come off the page, and just keep drawing around and around until the alarm goes off. Then, start writing. It might feel you didn't write anything worthwhile, but my experience is that there is usually a diamond in the rough in there Do this exercise for days straight, then read out loud what you have written to a trusted source a parent?
Don't expect a masterpiece from this exercise though stranger things have happened. The goal is to discover the kernel of any idea that can blossom into your college essay—a story that will convey your message, or clarity about what message you want to convey. Here is a picture of the spiral, in case you have trouble visualizing:. Adding feelings to your essays can be much more powerful than just listing your achievements. It allows reviewers to connect with you and understand your personality and what drives you.
In particular, be open to showing vulnerability. Nobody expects you to be perfect and acknowledging times in which you have felt nervous or scared shows maturity and self-awareness. This college essay tip is by Charles Maynard, Oxford and Stanford University Graduate and founder of Going Merry , which is a one-stop shop for applying to college scholarships. Be genuine and authentic. Your essay should be a true representation of who you are as a person—admissions officers want to read essays that are meaningful, thoughtful, and consistent with the rest of the application.
Inspiration for your most creative self
Essays that come from the heart are the easiest to write and the best written. Have a teacher or counselor, not just your smartest friend, review and edit your essays. This college essay tip is by Jonathan April, University of Chicago graduate, general manager of College Greenlight , which offers free tools to low-income and first-generation students developing their college lists.
The following essay, written by a former student, is so good that it illustrates at least five essential tips of good essay writing.
Writing a strong college admissions essay
Note how the writer incorporates a wide range of details and images through one particular lens: a scrapbook. Prompt: Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations. The layouts of the pages are already imprinted in my mind, so I simply draw them on scratch paper. Now I can really begin. Cutting the first photograph, I make sure to leave a quarter inch border. I then paste it onto a polka-dotted green paper with a glue stick.
Crafting an Unforgettable College Essay | The Princeton Review
For a sophisticated touch, I use needle and thread to sew the papers together. Loads of snipping and pasting later, the clock reads three in the morning. I look down at the final product, a full spread of photographs and cut-out shapes. As usual, I feel an overwhelming sense of pride as I brush my fingers over the crisp papers and the glossy photographs. For me, the act of taking pieces of my life and putting them together on a page is my way of organizing remnants of my past to make something whole and complete.
This particular project is the most valuable scrapbook I have ever made: the scrapbook of my life. The entire left side I have dedicated to the people in my life. All four of my Korean grandparents sit in the top corner; they are side by side on a sofa for my first birthday —my ddol. Meanwhile, my Texas cousins watch Daniel, the youngest, throw autumn leaves into the air that someone had spent hours raking up. To the right, my school peers and I miserably pose for our history teacher who could not resist taking a picture when he saw our droopy faces the morning of our first AP exam.
I move over to the right side of the page. At the top, I have neatly sewn on three items. The first is a page of a Cambodian Bible that was given to each of the soldiers at a military base where I taught English. Beneath it is the picture of my Guatemalan girls and me sitting on the dirt ground while we devour arroz con pollo, red sauce slobbered all over our lips. I reread the third item, a short note that a student at a rural elementary school in Korea had struggled to write in her broken English. I lightly touch the little chain with a dangling letter E included with the note.
Moving to the lower portion of the page, I see the photo of the shelf with all my ceramic projects glazed in vibrant hues. With great pride, I have added a clipping of my page from the Mirror, our school newspaper, next to the ticket stubs for Wicked from my date with Dad. I make sure to include a photo of my first scrapbook page of the visit to Hearst Castle in fifth grade.
Unlike the previous one, this page is not cluttered or crowded. There is my college diploma with the major listed as International Relations; however, the name of the school is obscure. The remainder of the page is a series of frames and borders with simple captions underneath. Without the photographs, the descriptions are cryptic. For now, that second page is incomplete because I have no precise itinerary for my future. The red flags on the map represent the places I will travel to, possibly to teach English like I did in Cambodia or to do charity work with children like I did in Guatemala.
As for the empty frames, I hope to fill them with the people I will meet: a family of my own and the families I desire to help, through a career I have yet to decide. Until I am able to do all that, I can prepare. Check out the opening paragraph of the Scrapbook essay again. It reads like the opening to a movie.
Take a look at the particular objects the writer chose:. She keeps clothes for a long time; she likes to be comfortable. What does "Levi's" suggest? She's not obsessed with neatness. Family is really important to her. Fireplace: What does a fireplace connote?
Crafting an Unforgettable College Essay
Warmth, closeness. My brother's hot cocoa: Why hot cocoa? Again, warmth.
How is the fact that her brother made it change the image? It implies that her brother is engaged in the family activity. Do you think she likes her brother? Would your brother make hot cocoa for you? And finally:. Listening to rain: Why not watching TV?
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What does it tell you about this family that they sit and listen to rain together? Taken together, they create an essence image. Quick: What essence image describes your family? Even if you have a non-traditional family—in fact, especially if you have a non-traditional family! Based on the image the writer uses, how would you describe her relationship with her family?
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We know all we need to know. Did you notice how clearly she set up the idea of the scrapbook at the beginning of the essay? Look at the last sentence of the second paragraph bolded below :. The sentence in bold above is essentially her thesis. It explains the framework for the whole essay. She follows this sentence with:. Super clear. Even a personal statement can have a thesis.