On Writing the College Application Essay: The Key to Acceptance at the College of Your Choice by Harry BauldOne of the most stressful aspects of the college application process is the essay. Most students worry about what an admissions officer looks for in a writing sample. But that’s the wrong way to approach this vital component, says former college admissions officer Harry Bauld. At Brown and Columbia, he saw what prospective students often did wrong—and now tells you how to do it right.
On Writing the College Application Essay is his inside guide to writing a college application essay that will stand out from the pack. Baum advises you on how to avoid platitudes and find your authentic voice, gives you tools and ideas that will spark your imagination, and shows you how to approach themes with originality and panache to make even the most tired topics—the ones most students should stay away from—fresh, such as:
The trip (“I had to adjust to a whole new way of life.”)
My favorite things (puppy dogs, freedom, and chocolate chip cookies)
The pageant contestant (“I think World Peace is the most important issue facing us today.”)
The jock (“Through wrestling I have learned to set goals and to work with people.”)
The autobiography (“Hello, my name is . . . ”)
Tales of my success (“But, finally, when I crossed the finish line . . . ”)
Pet death (“As I watched Buttons’s life ebb away, I came to value . . . ”)
Getting into the college of your dreams is tough. The competition is fierce. For more than twenty-five years, On Writing the College Application Essay has helped thousands of students improve their chances. Now, let it work for you.
How to Write a Great College Application Essay
Ah, college application essays — the necessary evil of college-bound high school seniors everywhere. Since Thomas and Martin have been doing a series of podcast episodes about how to get into college , I thought it would be appropriate to write up an article about how to write a college application essay — one that stands out and that makes a great impression. I was in your same position four years ago, and I learned a lot through both my own college application process and through my subsequent years as an English major who wields commas like shurikens. Most of the other parts of the application are just lists and statistics: GPA, courses taken, a list of extracurriculars, maybe some work or volunteer experience. Also, some of them will secretly be robots. Standing out from everyone else could put you in the running for additional scholarships and will also simply make a good impression , which never hurts.
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Here's the thing: your college application essay needs to breathe life into your application. It should capture your genuine personality, explaining who you are beyond a series of grades, test scores, and after-school activities. Take a minute and think about the college or university admission officers who will be reading your essay. How will your essay convey your background and what makes you unique? If you had the opportunity to stand in front of an admission committee to share a significant story or important information about yourself, what would you say? The college application essay is your chance to share your personality, goals, influences, challenges, triumphs, life experiences, or lessons learned.