How To Write A Successful College Essay

Your admissions essay should reflect command of college-level vocabulary. Advanced vocabulary should be the spice of the essay to give it flavor, so you’ll use plain language most of the time.One of the most common mistakes that we see in essays is using advanced vocabulary almost correctly. If you’re using a thesaurus, look online for examples of that word in action. Essays that are riddled with advanced vocabulary can seem pompous or even inadvertently comical to the reader. Can you substitute an advanced vocabulary word for a phrase?

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Your essay is your big shot to show colleges who you are—it's totally reasonable to get stressed out. This guide will walk you through each step of the essay writing process to help you understand exactly what you need to do to write the best possible personal statement.

I'm also going to follow an imaginary student named Eva as she plans and writes her college essay, from her initial organization and brainstorming to her final edits.

If you later realize that you misread the prompt, you might need to start the writing process from scratch.

Like the first item, this isn’t something that should take a lot of time. Creating a schedule, even if you need to modify it later, gets your brain in motion.

Writing good college essays involves a lot of work: you need dozens of hours to get just one personal statement properly polished, and that's before you even start to consider any supplemental essays.

In order to make sure you have plenty of time to brainstorm, write, and edit your essay (or essays), I recommend starting at least two months before your first deadline.

Writing concisely expresses to the admissions officers that can organize your thoughts and that you respect their time.

The vast majority of the sentences in your essay should be compound, complex, or a combination of both (compound-complex sentences).

Although many schools are now on the Common App, some very popular colleges, including University of Texas and University of California, still have their own applications and writing requirements.

Even for Common App schools, you may need to write a supplemental essay or provide short answers to questions.

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