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Nadia Goes to College: Who Knew an Essay Could Actually Be Fun?

December 24, 2013 12:05 pm | By Nadia

Hello again college aspirants! I hope the college process is beginning to make a little more sense now after these past few blog posts.
Do you guys remember the equation I mentioned about colleges? SAT + College Essay + Grades?
We discussed that to apply to a college you need to include a recommendation, grades, and a college essay. Well, we’ve talked about the recommendations and grades. The SAT is mainly what I stressed, and your grades at this point are what they are.

That leaves the essay.
The essay is a way for you to invest in and sell yourself to the college. It can be quiet fun because it’s anything you feel is worth mentioning. You’re telling a story, your story. Captivate the readers. Share your experiences.

Show that you are different.
On the Common App, the essay you submit can be submitted to any of the colleges you choose from. Keep in mind that some colleges ask for their own specific essays.
The general essay topics you are given include a range of subjects that you can choose from. These were the questions as of 2013:
• Option #1: Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
• Option #2: Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
• Option #3: Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
• Option #4: Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there and why is it meaningful to you?
• Option #5: Discuss an accomplishment or event (formal or informal) that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

Did you notice something?
If you thought these questions were a bit vague, you’re right. You can pretty much form your essay in such a way to write about anything. Literally. As long as you revert back to the original ideas above, you’re good to go.
Your college admissions person is sitting there going through TONS of applications, and yours is just another in the mix. The essay is a way to tell the person sitting behind the desk at the admissions table “I have a story. Here it is, remember my name and don’t forget it!” If you nail the essay, they’ll definitely remember your name.

So, how exactly how do you write a killer essay?
This part is easy. First, pick your topic. I’d like to think of your topic as a response to the following:
What do you think makes you unique, and why does that matter?

It could be an experience you had when you were younger. It could be coming to terms with an identity, finding a passion, learning from failure, it could be about anything as long as it’s something that tells YOUR story!
So once you have your topic, just sit down and write. Write your heart out and talk about you need to talk about. It’s a free write. Just go for it and tell that story.
Now the editing comes in. Get someone to review what you have written: teachers, friend, parents, or mentors (I would recommend your teachers, personally). Note what they have to say and take it into consideration.
You’re almost done. It’s time to start chipping away what I like to call “fluff”. Fluff is the words, sentences, or phrases you included that don’t have to be there. If they were gone, the essay would stay the same; in fact, it might be better. Here’s an example:
“I decided to not bother with the shoes I saw while window shopping, they were too expensive and large- besides I could do without them. Personally, I like my shoes nice and comfy. I picked up my bag and walked away, having made my decision.”
Chip away the fluff and you’re left with:
“I then decided not to buy the shoes I saw while window shopping. I simply walked away.”
Sure, the first example has great imagery, but the second one gets the point across in less words. The college essay isn’t about analyzing your literacy skills. They want a story.
And that story has to be between 500-650 words. That’s why you need to get rid of the fluff. Here are a couple of tips to end the blog with:
• Write what you feel is relevant.
• Get the essay read by at least 3 other people. Listen to their feedback and make the appropriate changes.
• Try to be original. If you are writing about something that everyone else is writing about, make it stand out.
• Don’t hold back. Get personal. That’s what they want to see.
• Don’t worry!

One last tip that I think goes without saying: Don’t lie, and don’t plagiarize. The information you submit is supposed to be real and personal. They’ll know if you plagiarized, and your chances of getting accepted to any college get smaller as a result. Just be yourself, they want to know YOU.
It’s not as frightening as it seems. It’s fun. Relax. If anything, keep checking us out for more help! Together, it’ll become much simpler.