Your authentic voice is the key to unlocking a successful essay. You've probably heard that a few hundred times, but what does that really mean? Don’t write from 30,000 feet above ground hiding behind clichés and well-worn phrases. Make your essay personal in a way that no one else could have written it. Write about what is core to you. Be specific, be pithy, be inventive. Beware of the semi-colon unless you have a black-belt in grammar. Embrace time as a trusted friend and make sure you have built in plenty of hours to ponder, cogitate, draft and re-draft. Read your essay aloud. Does it sound like you or what you think someone wants to hear? Admissions committees want to hear your voice, your idiosyncrasies, your tone, your rhythm, your take on the world. Take this opportunity to speak loudly and directly. The best first step sometimes is to just start writing and find out what you have to say.
Want more advice? Start here and then decide if you need books, essay samples or support:
Tell Colleges You Love Them Willard Dix, Forbes
Tips for Writing an Effective Application Essay. Big Future, Jeff Brenzel, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, Yale University
5 Writing Tips from a Senior Thesis Writer, Student Voices, Harvard College
Tips and Tricks for Tackling the Personal Statement, USC Admissions Blog
Hearing the Voice of a 51-Year-Old Man in the Essay of a 17-Year-Old Girl Rachel Toor, New York Times
Looking for inspiration? Richard Hugo's book "The Triggering Town: Essays and Lectures on Poetry and Writing." offers tips that hold weight for tackling not just poetry, but good writing, which is where the college essay needs to live.
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