If you are struggling with your college application essay right about now, you might be cursing the entire process.
And I don’t blame you.
You’re supposed to think up some fascinating topic that will grab the attention of those bored-to-tears admissions officers and help your application stand out among the thousands of other students vying for the same spot at your dream college.
All the experts tell you “Just be yourself!” or “Tell a story.”
While they are right, it’s totally normal that you don’t have much confidence in how to do that in 650 words or less.
Most high school students have not been taught how to write a narrative (story-telling style) personal essay.
And to write good ones takes a lot of practice.
But don’t be discouraged.
I would suggest you keep browsing this blog and reading posts about how to find topics, how to address certain prompts, how to write anecdotes, and within a short amount of time I believe you will have a strong idea of not only what you need to write, but how to execute it.
If not, keep reading!
In the meantime, I’ve cooked up a list of reasons why it’s worth putting your time and energy into these essays now:
1. You can learn invaluable writing techniques that you can use in college and beyond in the workplace. If you learn how to put a real-life story into your own words and tell it in a narrative style, you can power all types of writing.
These are called anecdotes, and they are terrific ways to engage your reader.
You can use them in everything from writing editorial pieces for magazines and blogs to marketing tools, such as advertorials, cover letters and press releases.
2. You have a chance to pause in your busy life and ponder who you are, how you are unique and and why it’s important. To write a powerful personal statement, you need to take a hard look at yourself, and explore what has shaped you so far and where you want to go next.
This exercise can not only help you write a compelling essay, but also make you more mindful of your individuality and open the possibilities of your future!
3. This is your chance to use your personality and character to convince schools that you would be a great addition to their student body. No one really knows how much influence these essays have in helping students get admitted.
But if you are a student applying to a super competitive college or university (and that seems to be most of them these days!), you have to think that these could often be a deciding factor if everyone has the same uber grades, test scores, extra-curriculars, etc.
Same goes with students who have less than flawless grades, scores, etc., who need that extra edge to push past the competition. Be likable!
4. A great essay could earn you some money. Many of the smaller liberal arts colleges use these essays to determine who they want to accept and who they want enough to help afford their school.
Think about it: If a college admissions officer reads an essay and she or he determines that you would be an ideal fit for their school, for whatever reason, they are likely to find ways to get you there, including offering scholarship money.
5. Chances are you will be writing other application essays in your future. Sorry for the bad news, but it’s likely you will need to write other application essays if you apply for things like transferring schools, scholarships (fellowships, internships, etc.) and advanced degrees (MBA, law school, med school, etc.) down the road.
The time you invest now to learn how to craft these essays will help you later on.
Keep these writing techniques–especially the Show AND Tell approach and anecdotes–in your tool kit to give you an edge in the future!
Even though these essays are a royal drag, they are worth your time and effort. So get cracking!