I recently received an email from a student named Daniel Ryu, who is a sophomore at Harvard University. Daniel said he was stressed out his senior year of high school during the application process and had found my blog helpful. He offered to share what worked for him. No matter where you are aiming to get in, I would listen closely to what Daniel has to say. Obviously, it worked!

Here’s Daniel’s guest post:

4 Tips for the College Essay

So you’re a high school senior or maybe even a junior; the thought of applying to college has been on your mind for some time. It seems that every moment of your high school career has been building up to this point. Your GPA is mostly set and you are already involved in all the clubs and extracurriculars that you will ever join, at least in high school. There is now one thing that stands in your way. The college essay.

Below are some tips and guidelines that will help you write the ideal college essay: 

  1. Answer the essay question. Each college essay prompt will probably ask something different of you. Be sure to read this prompt carefully and get a sense as to what it wants you to write about. Because many of these college essays are rather short, it is absolutely essential that you start your essay by immediately addressing the question.
  2. Use anecdotes. Most of these college admissions officers who will be reading your work go through hundreds of college essays each day. In other words, they do not spend that much time on each essay. As such, it is important to capture and hold their attention during the few minutes that they will be reading. Make sure to use specific and personal stories as these stick with people. Also, use strong and vivid language that creates powerful images in people’s minds.
  3. End lesson. With the college essays, it is crucial that you come to some kind of end goal or lesson. This lesson does not have to be extravagant, like “I want to achieve world peace in the next few years.” Rather, it has to be a personal and therefore rather intimate observation that shows who you are as a person. It is a way for the admissions officer to get to know the candidate.
  4. Edit, edit, and edit. Once you are done writing, you have to edit your work over and over again. Go through your work with a pen and make edits. Afterwards, have your friends and maybe even teachers take a look and have them critique your work. The quality of these revisions will make for the best college essay.

Follow these tips and you are thinking about the college essay in the right way.

About the author: Daniel Ryu was raised in Ridgewood, New Jersey, before attending Harvard College where he studies history and literature.  Currently, he is working for a legal consulting firm in Beacon Hill.