These essays are a very important part of your application and tell the college admissions board who you are and what you hope to achieve in the future. In this how-to guide, you will learn some tips about how to write an admissions essay that will help you get into the college of your dreams.
What to Write About
Generally, you will be given a list of up to five “prompts” for your admissions essay and you only need to write about one of them. What is a prompt? A prompt is a topic that is there to give you ideas. It is different from a “question” because you don’t have to analyze the prompt or answer it directly—just use it as a starting point and go from there.
When choosing from the options, its best to choose a writing prompt you can relate to. There are no bonus points for choosing a “hard” prompt, so go for the one that fits best.
Experiences that Have Shaped and Influenced You
In your essay, try to include the following information in a way that is interesting and natural:
- Extracurricular activities you have done, like sports, music, or debate
- Vacations and travel in your home country or in a foreign country
- Your hobbies and interests
- Any work experience you have
- Friends, family, and other relationships that have been important in your life
- Life events and experiences that have changed you
Try to include as many of these points as you can, but if something doesn’t fit, just leave it out. You are usually only allowed 650 words for your essay (this is about two or three pages), so you can’t include everything. The best approach is to choose the most interesting things about yourself and write more about those points. The aim is to stand out from the crowd!
How to Structure Your Essay
For English-language essays in general, your professors will expect you to explain yourself clearly and directly. You will need to get straight to the point and have a clear topic for every paragraph.
The best way to go about writing your essay is to start early so you have plenty of time and make a plan first. In your plan, you will need to add ideas for each main part of the essay:
● The introduction: In the opening paragraph, state what your essay will be about and use full sentences to mention all the main points you will include in your essay. It is worth spending some time on the introduction because you want to start with a sentence that will grab the readers’ attention and encourage them to keep reading the rest of your essay.
● The body paragraphs: Plan around 5-6 points to write about in your essay that all support your main idea (thesis), and choose the most logical order in which to present those points so that the flow makes sense. Each paragraph could focus on a life event, a special person, or something else that influenced you on your life journey.
● The conclusion: This is the part that will stay in the readers’ minds and help them to remember you. Your conclusion should be a summary of what you have learned from the experiences and people you mentioned, and how they helped you become the person you are today. Just as with the introduction, it’s worth spending time on the conclusion to ensure a strong finish to your essay.
Polishing your English Grammar and Vocabulary
The better the grammar and vocabulary in your essay are, the more your application will impress the panel. At the same time, you want to make your essay easy to understand, so if you are not confident with long, complicated sentences and fancy words, it’s best to keep it simple with shorter sentences and use words that you know you can use correctly.
Excellent resources to help with your English grammar include the free grammar checker Grammarly and the spell check tool in Microsoft Word (or the equivalent in other word- processing programs). Make sure you set the language of the document to U.S. English rather than British English so that the spelling suggestions will be correct for the United States. If a colored line appears under an entire sentence, rewrite the sentence or break it up into smaller sentences to make sure it is easy to understand.
Back-Translating Your Essay to Check the Meaning
Once you have made your essay as good as you can, translate your finished essay back into your native language with a free online translator. This will help you to see if each thought makes sense. While online translators are not perfect, this exercise could show you if you have written something completely different to what you thought or if some of your sentences may be structured incorrectly.
Ultimately, the best way to check your essay would be to ask a native English speaker to read over it and help you to correct any mistakes. For something as important as a college admissions essay, many native speakers would be happy to help!
Prepare for a Great Study Experience in the USA
In addition to writing your admissions essay, make sure that you prepare for your USA experience in other ways as well. Use these free English writing resources to improve your language skills and consider these lifestyle services to make your time spent studying abroad smoother and safer.
If you are still looking for courses or want more information about studying abroad, you will find lots of great information on the Study USA website. Good luck and enjoy your study experience!
Author Bio: Tiffany Rauschenberger is a freelance writer, content strategist, and former graduate assistant. She frequently writes about the latest developments in teaching, public policy, standardized testing, and educational technology for sites like HeyTutor.