Sept. 30, 2021

Crafting Your Best College Essay

By Ms. Joy Nehr

You’re in the final stages of your high school career and are beginning to think about your future and what you might actually want to do with the rest of your life. You’ve decided you DO want to continue your academics at either a community college or college/university only to be faced with having to write yet another essay. Why? Why do you have to write another essay? Can’t the college get all the information they need about you from your transcripts and resume? NO, they can’t.

The college essays reveals information about you that test scores, grades and bullet points on a resume can never convey- your personality. The college essay tells the admissions officer who you are, in addition to showcasing your writing ability. This is precisely why it’s important to spend some time really honing this essay.

To begin with, you want to have a strong introductory paragraph. This is your chance to catch your readers’ attention and make them want to keep reading to learn more about you. You might start with a funny story about yourself, share an interesting/unique fact about you (and, yes, we all have some kind of interesting/unique fact that we can share). For example, you’re attending an online high school which puts you in an elite group of students because fewer than 21% of all students in the United States participate in any form on virtual learning. See? You’re already interesting because of this choice!

Make sure you are using your best writing skills in your essay. This is not the place to forget to capitalize proper nouns or to use text-speak. Use your best formal language, but still keep the tone of the essay fairly conversational. This is not the time to start making extensive use of a thesaurus to use the most advanced words you can find. When people do this, they often end up using the words incorrectly which doesn’t make them sound smart at all. Stick with your own voice and style.

When you’re writing your essay, make sure you stay on topic and are direct. If the prompt is asking you to tell why you would be a good fit for that college, make sure that is the focus of your work throughout the essay. Straying off topic or going on of a tangent will not have positive results. Also, don’t write what you think the college wants to hear. The admissions officer(s) is trained to pick up on that kind of detail. Just be your authentic self.

Before you submit your essay, take the time to proofread your work and check on the length. Most college essays have a word limit (500 is pretty standard) so don’t go over that limit by even one word. However, you also do not want to submit an essay that is only 200 words when the limit is 500. You want to be as close to that limit as you can without going over. It’s a great idea to share your essay with other people to read prior to submitting to the college. I know students at Cal-Pacs have an incredible team of teachers who would be happy to look over this essay for you.

Remember, let your personality shine through your work. Happy Writing!!