Applying to College is Scary
It’s time to sit down and write that personal essay to send out to your dream college and you have to communicate to the school admissions department why you should get a coveted spot in their freshman class. In this tutor’s experience, everyone seems to leave this particular part of their college application process to the very end. Admittedly, writing about yourself is about as awkward as it gets and with a general question like “Why should you be accepted to this university?” or “How will you use your education to improve your life?” the idea of trying to be original is nearly impossible.
That’s just it, don’t try, just do it. Of course, I know that is much easier said than done but the more you think about what to write the harder it will be, so it’s important to just get some words down on paper. You always have the option of editing later. In fact, you will probably write several drafts before you arrive at that final, polished version. Trust us, our Orange County private tutors have applied and been accepted to some prestigious universities (it wasn’t easy).
Trying too hard to stand out will almost always end up making your writing style appear forced. Do yourself a favor and take some of the stress away and let your inner brilliance shine!
1. Make a list of things that you honestly want to do with your life after college.
If you’re not sure what you want to do or if you think you might change your mind, just write down something that would be really cool to do with your life, even if it doesn’t seem entirely realistic. Have you always wanted to cycle across the USA? Wish you could get paid to travel and write articles about awesome tourist sites? Write these down in your outline, they could come in handy later.
2. Just start writing.
Forget about flow, grammar and spelling for now (that will come later). If your computer feels uninspiring, go down to your favorite place and write with a good old fashioned paper and pencil. Being in nature, near the ocean, or in any setting that makes you feel relaxed will help the words flow out of your head and onto that paper.
3. Write a few versions of your personal essay.
It will be great to have some options to choose from later. Also, if different colleges have slightly different prompts, don’t try to mold one essay into several. Take the time to write a separate essay for each university. The admissions department will easily be able to tell which applicants took the time to write an entire essay from scratch and who took a short cut. Your personal essay is essentially your resume and cover letter combined. It could possibly take you from the “maybe” pile to the “yes” pile, so those extra hours are definitely worth it!
4. Wait a day or two before proofreading your essay.
It is really hard to edit your own work, but having a fresh eye will give you a better shot at making adequate changes. Do all of the content edits first, and then move on to the grammar and flow edits. If you correct grammar and formatting before content, you may find that you are spending more time than you need and we want to keep this as low stress as possible to keep those creative juices flowing.
5. Know when to ask for help.
If you are really struggling with this aspect of your college application, don’t be afraid to get help from your private Irvine in-home tutor or a responsible classmate. All of the content should be yours but there is no reason why you can’t get inspiration or formatting help from an experienced writer.
Bottom Line: Be yourself. You want to end up at a university that is a good fit for you and has the programs and opportunities that will enrich your life and help you get closer to your career goals.
Need practice? Enter our Orange County, California, essay contest. It’s open to all O.C. high school students grades 9-12. In addition to the chance of wining $500 for summer, the contest is a great opportunity to practice your essay skills.
Have a fantastic Earth Day, Orange County!
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