Writing the Perfect College Entrance Essay
In AP English Language, taught by Dr. Phillips, the first few weeks of class were spent writing college essays. As Dr. Phillips says, “a good essay might not necessarily get you into a college, but a bad one will
most certainly keep you out.” She stresses that the important thing to remember is that these essays are being reviewed by one who will have been reviewing these sorts of essays for a long time before. Therefore, it is especially important that the essay is unique and interesting. Going along with that, our class was given a copy of a sheet which included “Essays to Avoid” (From “For some Applicants, Student Essay Unlocks or Seals the Door to College” Maureen David). The essays to avoid (though this isn’t absolute) include: “My Favorite Things” essay, Trip essay, “Miss America” essay, “jock” essay and 3D (diversity of interests) essay.
These should generally be avoided because they don’t allow for much personal growth. In the jock essay, one could write about how playing football showed him or her about teamwork. Well, that person and half of the other people applying could say the EXACT SAME THING. For the “my favorite things” essay, one might say that they like advanced technology because it allows people from all over the world to communicate in a big, happy, pool of diversity. That’s all fun and neat, but such essays fail to say anything about you as a person. Lots of students found that writing essays about someone who has had an impact on them were very effective. These essays are especially good because they don’t have to be too self-focused, and they allow you the opportunity to focus on someone other than yourself while revealing bits of information about yourself. Being able to do that is a definite mark of good writing.
Also, it’s necessary to remember to be yourself. By all means, you should try to be positive and witty and sincere and use high diction, but making an essay generic will cause the person who’s reading it to fall asleep. You shouldn’t be negative though. While starting off your essay by saying “I hate everyone” wouldn’t cause anyone to fall asleep (unless they were really tired), it wouldn’t give a very good impression of you. One also can’t praise oneself too much. No one likes reading an essay which goes “I learned about being a good person, nice, kind, caring, positive…” because it’s essentially bragging. And, one last bit of advice: Don’t drag it on. The more you can say in a shorter space, the better. Once again, college application evaluaters don’t want to read novels. Mr. Anderson says “it strikes me as absurd to ask someone to reveal their personality in 500 words or less,” but in the case of college applications, it’s a necessity. Have fun!