While a typical high school paper can get you a good grade, an exceptional application essay is your ticket to a bright future. There is a lot of pressure to write this single piece! Still, many students treat it the same way as they do other assignments. They put it off until the last possible moment, and then rush to complete the application process overnight. Still, if you wish to increase your chances of getting into your dream school, here are some differences between college application essay and high school papers you should heed.
School Teacher Vs. Admission Board
Think of the college application essay as a marketing text for self-promotion. While your teachers know you pretty well, they only have a few dozens of works to grade at a time. Admission boards receive thousands of applications. Every essay gets only about 5 minutes of time, so you need to make every word count.
Avoid epigraphs, quotes and Webster dictionary definitions in the introduction. There is also no need to repeat the prompt; you can dive right in. Your word count is limited, so don’t waste it on other people’s words and opinions. Instead, open with an anecdote. Short and sweet stories at the beginning of the essay grab attention and provide a glimpse into your life. That’s precisely what most admission boards are looking for.
Traditional Structure Vs. Unique Outline
While you can’t go wrong with a classic trio of introduction, body, and conclusion, the middle part of your application essay provides vast opportunities for experimentation. High school five-paragraph essays may be the most familiar for you, but they are common, so you will hardly grab anyone’s attention with this traditional structure. For the same reason, you should not use college application templates that are available online. You can read some examples to get inspired, but do not copy their structure, be original.
You will get a list of formatting guidelines along with the essay prompt. As long as you follow them, you can experiment with different styles and structures. Add dialog, analysis, lists and any other elements that can catch the reader’s eye, but don’t go overboard. Your goal is to stand out without being overwhelming.
Strict Rules Vs. Distinct Voice
Over the years you have learned your teacher’s pet peeves. You know to avoid contractions, you never split infinitive, and you religiously get rid of sentence fragments. Passive voice has become your number one enemy. Still, strict rules of your English class can make your writing stilted and cliched, particularly if you are used to certain turns of phrase.
Following basic grammar guidelines is essential when writing college application essay, however, you can bend some rules to make your voice stand out. Don’t be afraid to let your imagination and creativity roam free. And use George Orwell’s advice: avoid metaphors and similes that you have seen in a dozen other places. They might seem fancy and smart, but you are better off using your own examples then sounding like everyone else.
Taking Sides Vs. Complex Issues
When writing argumentative or persuasive essays for high school classes, you are encouraged to research all sides of the problem and pick one to support. All the arguments and evidence should serve the purpose of promoting the point you are trying to make. However, college application essay is far from cut-and-dried. The most successful papers inevitably include a conflict, a crisis or a turning point.
So instead of showcasing your sports victories and your loving relationship with your siblings, try describing the struggles you face being the youngest child with successful older brothers’ and sisters’ shoes to fill. Think about every good book you have read and remember the struggles and conflict main characters had to face. Imagine yourself being the hero of your own story and describe the difficulties and obstacles you have overcome. Avoid boasting, but show your nature, skills, and experiences that might serve you when attending college.
Editing And Proofreading Vs. Editing and Proofreading
Every piece of writing you complete should go through a rigorous editing and proofreading process. While you might be willing to skip this step when writing high school papers, it is necessary for a college admission essay. The best way to ensure thorough proofreading is to ask a teacher or a parent to read the text carefully and point out all mistakes and logical inconsistencies.
Editing is also the time for eliminating redundant words and phrases. When you cut out “brief summaries” and “personal opinions”, you will get extra 50 to 100 meaningful words you can add. They will make a short conclusion or an exciting hook for the introduction. You should also avoid tense switches in your paper. Past tense is preferable, though the Present can make your writing more dynamic.
If there is no one to proofread the admission essay for you, you can put it away for several days and come back to it later. Another great idea is to hire a professional to edit the college application essay for you. Our writers can also create an intriguing life story from scratch to get you a place at the school of your choice!