Crafting an Unforgettable College Essay Most selective colleges require you to submit an essay or personal statement as part of your application. It may sound like a chore, and it will certainly take a substantial amount of work.
It is hard for a lot of different reasons. Sometimes it is hard because you have a lot of stories tripping over each other to get onto the page. Sometimes it is hard because, no matter how smoothly you try to form your sentences, they invariably tumble out of you, all stiff and angular like a box of bent pipes.
But being able to write well is important. You will never encounter a situation in which obfuscation is to your advantage.
You will frequently encounter situations where crisp, compelling writing can express your feelings, make your case, even save lives: Edward Tufte argues that the Challenger disaster could have been prevented if only the case against launching had been made more clearly. While hopefully no lives are riding on your college application essays, this is a great time to revisit some of the rules of writing well.
The theoretical foundation he lays in this piece — about the importance of language, including writing, in shaping how we are capable of thinking — he later built upon in Read it closely, read it carefully.
It will change the way you think about writing. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
Never use a long word where a short one will do. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
Now, in this essay Orwell took issue primarily with contemporary political propaganda. In our time it is broadly true that political writing is bad writing. But the same is true for college essays, as Orwell doubtlessly would have realized if he were reanimated and handed him a sheaf of Common Applications.
The sad truth is that most college application essays are not very good. These books exist because people at name-brand schools realized they could sell aspiring applicants drafts of their essays.
They do not, as a rule, provide actual good advice. Last year I was traveling with a colleague from Yale. He had recently spent a week on a reservation helping Native American students navigate the college process, and he had been shocked by the degree to which the cliches and tropes of college essays had penetrated into their world.
As he told me, the essays his students — who had lived vastly different lives than most mainstream applicants — were writing were indistinguishable from those written by applicants in southeastern Connecticut.
Do not do this. Do not allow your essays to descend into an impenetrable bulk of buzzwords and banality. You are an interesting person. Your essays should be yours.The best way to tell your story is to write a personal, thoughtful essay about something that has meaning for you.
Be honest and genuine, and your unique qualities will shine through. Admissions officers have to read an unbelievable number of college essays, most of which are forgettable. Nov 19, · Remember, as you write, the essay is not about what you have done. The essay is about who you are.
If you get to this point, you will know what essay you . College application essays can seem really freaky and daunting.
If you’re nervous to write your essay, that’s good!
That means you care! But, hopefully I’ve got some helpful, very unofficial tips here to make you feel a little more confident in writing this future masterpiece. A poorly executed essay can cause a stellar student to get rejected. On the flip side, exceptional application essays can help students with marginal scores get into the schools of their dreams.
The tips below will help you win big with your essay. Not only is the college essay a place to showcase writing skills, it's one of the only parts of a college application where a student's voice can shine through. "The essays are important in part. In short, despite students’ ever-intensifying pressures, schedules, and responsibilities, I hope that by engaging with the genre of the personal essay, students can write for themselves with this sense of curiosity—first, for themselves.