Luke Kenworthy could not believe his eyes when he opened the university decisions from major Ivy League Schools. Despite his skepticism, he was offered admission by seven major Ivy League schools including Harvard, Cornell, and Columbia.
If you read his story, few things are quite obvious. You need to focus more on how to write a complete personal essay and invest a significant amount of effort in developing a perfect piece of writing which reflects your own history, strengths, and future vision.
So if you want to write an essay which can get you to the top Universities, here are few tips you can use to try your luck.
1. Flaunt your personal voice
We tend to shy away from using the pronoun “I” after being taught the academic voice for 12 years of school. This task, however, calls for just that. Admission counselors read hundreds of these essays. Tell them what makes you! The best way to do so is to find your natural, personal voice. Throw away the thesaurus. Write in your vernacular.
Ultimately, our grades show what we have learned; this essay shows who we are. Admission counselors know when a voice is forced, so let’s not force it! Chris Teared from Forbes explains the benefit of personal voice in admission essays.
2. Find passion in the prompt
It can be easy to start drafting the first thing that comes to mind. While our first idea is often the one we go with, we must first be sure that it is something we are passionate about. If we notice halfway that we are either bored of the topic or running out of things to say, we need to reconsider the choice.
When we are excited about what we have to say, the reader will be more likely to be excited as well. Find something you are passionate about and let it shine through. This is admittedly difficult for a writer, especially at 18-years-old. MIT student Phoebe discusses exactly why that word “passion” tended to trip her up.
Try not to worry about knowing your passion as much as you do feeling excited about whatever you’re writing. You don’t need to be going to school on a basketball scholarship to write about why basketball has a special place in your heart.
Be engaged, and you will be engaging. Or, as Rainer Maria Rilke so eloquently states, “The inner – what is it? If not intensified sky?”
3. Don’t forget to discover
Often, prompts will ask us to reflect on a lesson learned. It is good practice to think about the following question before we begin writing: What is the discovery? In other words, we have to get to the point.
There must be the reason for writing this beyond the mere requirement for admission. Remember that for the few minutes the readers will experience our essay, we have a captive audience.
Let’s take advantage of this by giving them a lesson to be learned. Instead of writing about how theater gave you something to do after school, why not explain how theater taught you how to live life off-script?
By recognizing the discovery, we make this essay worthwhile for us to write, and the counselors to read.
4. Answer the question
We know: some essays ask bizarre questions. Have a look at this aggregated list of the strangest essay questions they’ve seen. Regardless of such odd requests, make sure to answer the question asked.
Sometimes, articles follow a tangent. Be conscious of your train of thought and make an effort to check in with the prompt consistently. While your article may be well written and engaging, if it doesn’t answer the question, it doesn’t do you any good. Learn more about common application essay questions here.
5. Write it out at once
This tip is easily looked over. While keeping in mind the other strategies, it can be extremely helpful to write in one session to get all ideas out on the page and maintain logical flow. The pressure to write this critical essay may cause you to start and stop many times. Instead, set aside time to write it all out. The editing process cannot come until everything has been written.
Joe Bunting, the author of The Write Practice, reveals, “Your first draft is a discovery process. You are like an archeologist digging an ancient city out of the clay. You might have a few clues about where your city is buried beforehand, but you don’t know what it will look like until it’s unearthed.”
Discover your voice and story by sitting down and writing everything you’ve got.
6. Reread multiple ways
There are different ways to review your writing for specific criteria. A full read through will help ensure flow and organization are on par. Reading backward (conclusion to introduction) will contribute to focusing editing on word choice and cohesion within paragraphs.
Reading aloud helps auditory learners edit content and catch minor mistakes.
Finally, walking away from the essay and giving yourself time away from it will grant a clearer head and fresh perspective.
7. We are our final judge
Another eye is an invaluable source for review and editing. Even so, we are our ultimate judge. If we are happy with the final product, that means that it reflects who we are.
Do not get caught up in others’ opinions. Remember this is about personal reflection, not anyone else. Janet Rosier, an admissions’ consultant, advises keeping outside editing to a minimum: “—one or, at most, two people. If you have too many people giving you advice, your voice may get lost.”
Using the above tips, we are confident that you can create your very best essay. The key is to trust your story, trust your voice, and trust the process. Use this single task to reflect on the past to create a bright and prosperous future.
We all have a story to tell – let’s get writing! We wish you the best of luck on your personal essay.
[Featured Image by Mario Tama/Getty Images]