Application Essay Tips: what do College look for?

Colleges look for applicants who can write their thoughts in an engaging way and are able to be creative and honest in their approach to their essay. Since the admission counselors may read several essays, being able to stand out is essential to the success of the application.

How can you stand out in the crowd and impress the admission board or counselor? One way is to be a little controversial. Take a stand on an issue that is important to you. You don’t need to be overbearing or heavy-handed in your thoughts, but a concise explanation and a creative delivery is a great way to distinguish oneself with the essay. Political topics lend themselves well to this type of writing.

A key to making a controversial statement work is to make sure that it matches the prompt well. Do not just make a stand for the sake of making a stand, it needs to be authentic and it needs to be related to the prompt in a way that makes sense. A thoughtful essay can show creativity, your reasoning and how well you articulate your passions.

Aside from the controversy or passionate topic choice, the colleges look for concise writing that is free from errors. This seems as though it should go without saying, but many students do not do a careful check of their essay before popping it into the mail and punctuation or grammar errors slip through. These make the essay lose merit because it is distracting to read and it shows a lack of understanding of grammar and/or punctuation rules or care in one’s work and both are keys to success in college. Do not rely just on the spelling and grammar check on the computer because auto-correct can miss something or replace with a term that is incorrect for the sentence. Proofreading yourself and also having someone else read the essay is a good practice to catch some of those sneaky comma errors or a sentence that is awkwardly written.

Finally, colleges look for students who are able to offer unique and well written essays that have impeccable grammar. Write a piece that allows your personality shine through. Write an essay that takes a stand or paints a vivid picture to get an emotional reaction. Being able to engage the readers in the admissions office with a spectacular essay is what colleges expect from applicants.