College Essay Guide

Although Halloween usually marks the start of the holiday season for America’s retailers, if you are a Senior applying to college, the day signals the unofficial start of the college application season. Make sure that you address the recommended topics and answer the questions asked. Good writing does not necessarily mean lengthy writing.Regardless of your grades or test scores, you will likely struggle writing your personal statement, commonly known as “the college essay.” Here are six tips that will help you through this stressful, but essential part of the college application. Rarely do four single-spaced pages impress very busy admissions officers who must make quick judgments of your candidacy.Fortunately, at College Vine, we’ve developed a straightforward approach to formulating strong, unique responses.

If it grabs the reader’s attention, he or she will be encouraged to read on. As a matter of style, writing in an active voice energizes an essay. Word processing programs often provide assistance with converting passive sentences to the active tense. *Use your conclusion to recapture the main points of your essay.* Your conclusion should leave a lasting statement that reminds the reader of your essay’s key points.

If you are experiencing writer’s block, skip this first sentence, and work on the rest of your essay. Reiterate the main themes of your essay, but say it in a different way than you did before.

Make sure that context and logic are inherent in your essay, however.

From paragraph to paragraph, sentence to sentence, your ideas should be clear and flow naturally.

The first question focuses on your personality traits — who you are.

The second question targets your progression throughout high school (an arc or journey).As solid writing only comes with practice, I recommend that you invest time in your personal statement.To start, complete a first draft of your essay at least one month before the deadline. A few days between each draft will allow you to think clearly and not be overwhelmed.If you are using the Common Application, I recommend that your personal statement not exceed one and a half pages. *Use the appropriate format.* When applying online, your essay will automatically be formatted to fit standard guidelines.However, if you decide not to send the application electronically, follow these guidelines: * Use single space. * Make sure that each page has your name, high school and date of birth. Find your dream school with Fastweb's college search. *Start with a catchy first sentence.* It is always a good idea to have a catchy first sentence. *Avoid clichés.* Do you see commonly used phrases in your essay that you’ve heard frequently in casual conversation? Clichés usually sneak in when you are trying to be descriptive. For example, you may write: “it was raining cats and dogs.” Instead, you could share the same idea with the sentence: “heavy raindrops fell, blinding my view.” Rewrite overly-used statements in an original way so you can stand out. *Use the active voice.* This is a challenge for all writers.While SAT scores, your past course load, and your grades provide a quantitative picture of you as a student, the Common App essay offers adcoms a refreshing glimpse into your identity and personality.For this reason, try to treat the essay as an opportunity to tell colleges why you are unique and what matters to you.A different idea that doesn’t involve an activity would be to discuss how your personality has developed in relation to your family; maybe one sibling is hot-headed, the other quiet, and you’re in the middle as the voice of reason (or maybe you’re the hot-head).These are simply two examples of infinitely many ideas you could come up with.The third question is more difficult to grasp, but it involves showing why your personality traits, methods of thinking, areas of interest, and tangible skills form a traditional five-paragraph essays.You are free to be creative in structure, employ dialogue, and use vivid descriptions—and you should!

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