Whether you're looking to gain admission into a great all girls Catholic school or a top notch university, you'll need to meet a number of requirements: good test scores, letters of recommendations, and community service. You'll also probably need one other thing, a great application essay. Here are some application essay writing approaches that can help earn a spot at a prestigious high school or college:
Tell a Story
One of the biggest mistakes students make when they write an application essay is that they attempt to tell things about themselves. They list accomplishments featured on their academic transcript and/or application. This approach can make the essay feel impersonal, while making you sound narcissistic in the process.
- Show, don't tell: Application essays should provide insights into your character and personality in a way that your test scores and transcripts do not. Rather than listing the most important milestones and/or accomplishments of your life, describe one of them in detail. Your essay should read more like a short story than a traditional expository essay. Aim to incorporate sensory details throughout your essay to make sure that you're showing your audience a singular moment in your life. Blending humor into your narrative can further humanize your story.
Be Dramatic, but Not Melodramatic
Many application essays aim to disarm readers by making strong appeals to the reader's emotions. Unfortunately, many of these narrative can be hyperbolically melodramatic.
- Don't be a victim: Everyone, even the people reading your application essay, have had tragedies in their lives. Aiming to make your essay the saddest essay your reader has ever read shouldn't be your goal. If you want to write about a tragedy from your life, make sure that you can write about it realistically and honestly. You should also answer this question before you commit to writing about a particularly tragic event in your life: How will the experience make you a better person in the future?
Keep it Short
Most application essays have relatively stringent word count limits (300 to 500 words). It's okay if your essay is shorter than the word count limit. If you feel like your essay tells the story about you that your readers need to hear, then consider your essay complete. Additionally, you can often make your essay more concise by improving your verb choice. Vague "to be" verbs are often the mark of bloated sentences and/or imprecise diction.