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It’s okay to want to talk about an obstacle or challenge you have faced in your life, but DON'T dwell on telling the story of this challenge – talk about what you learned from it, why you are a better person for having gone through it and how you’ve grown it.
Don’t bore those poor folks reading hundreds or thousands of essays. Maybe it’s a grab-‘em-by-the-collar kind of first line. Bring them in to your world through the story you’re telling. Remember that this is a story about you, not an academic essay.
Find someone to support you at each stage of the process.
The best essays I’ve read have come from a school that starts the process in the Spring of junior year.
Keep at it until you love your essay and are proud of it.
Many students have trouble with this assignment: determining what they should write about and figuring out how to tell their story in the 500 words they have been given. One piece of advice I would share is don't expect the college essay to be something you can whip up in a few hours. Try to allow your personality to shine through your essay.
This essay requires careful planning, days of writing and re-writing, sharing it with trusted adults to get feedback, and making sure the final version of the essay is error-free in terms of grammar. What about you is so interesting and wonderful that the reader would say, "I think I would like to know this person.
Read it out loud, or better yet record it and play it back. Does it show (as opposed to tell) who you are deep down, how you live your life, your values or how you’ve grown? Stay on topic and don't get sidetracked by too many ideas.
What kind of person is in the story, and do you like that person? On my college essay I fudged on a little detail that I thought would make me look better. Come up with ways or examples to express your topic without sounding negative, angry, "cute", too eager to please. other words, be who you are without going overboard.
Having a mentor or guide who understands the writing process is invaluable.
This doesn’t mean that they’re doing the writing for you! This is a lot harder than writing about the War of 1812.