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Brad Schiller, co-founder and CEO of Prompt.com, tells Thought Co that many applicants to the same schools may have comparable grades and test scores.“However, the essay is the differentiator; it's one of the few pieces of an application over which a student has direct control, and it provides readers with a sense of who the student is, how the student will fit in at the school, and how successful the student will be both in college and upon graduation.” And for students with an uneven profile, the college application essay may provide a chance to shine.“Some common poor choices of topics we see are getting poor grades due to lack of effort, depression or anxiety that you have not overcome, conflicts with other people that went unresolved, or poor personal decisions,” he warns. Schiller believes that it’s important for students to organize their thoughts, and an outline can help them structure their thoughts.
Since the college application essay is so important, Thought Co spoke with several experts to discover the best ways to write one that will win over college admissions officers.
So many elements are included in the application process that students may wonder why they need to worry about the essay.
“So many essays start off well, the second and third paragraphs are solid, and then they just end,” laments De Cario.
“You need to explain why you told me all the things you wrote about earlier in the essay; relate it to yourself and the essay question.” Revise early and often. Papszycki says the essay will need to undergo several revisions – and not just to catch grammatical errors.
“If your profile is a little uneven, like you’re successful outside the classroom but your grades aren’t quite there, or you’re the valedictorian but you’re not a good test taker, the essay can push you from a maybe to a yes,” De Cario explains.
According to Schiller, such topics as the student’s goals, passions, personality, or periods of personal growth are all good areas in which to start brainstorming.
“The key is to inspire using a personal story that captures this quality.” Papszycki believes that transformational experiences are great topics.
“For example, did you overcome extreme shyness by shining in the school musical production?
When you sit down to write your college essay, don’t dismiss the introduction.
In fact, it’s probably the most important part of your essay, because it draws in the reader.