Don’t Fall Into the Crowd: How to Creatively Stand Out with Your College Essay Application
Let’s be honest. College applications are hard work. Why? Well, all of us certainly want to end up in the institution of our choice. Maybe it is a prestigious college or university, one of the few schools that offer the program we target, close to our friends or family, has an excellent on-campus residence, or offers a wide range of electives–whatever our reasons may be for having our preferences—most of us would be willing to do anything to ensure we get into the school of our choice.
However, just like a job application, one has to truly prove their worth to gain acceptance, and the first step is to have a college essay application that stands out in a creative sense. One can have a perfect record of attendance and punctuality or all As on their report card or an outstanding record for leading school events and extracurricular activities, but if these are not accompanied by a well-written and creative essay, chances are slim that he or she will get admitted.
So if you are facing a predicament of writing an essay that would be read by admission boards word per word and not be ignored, it’s time to pay attention to these tips to make your college essay application exceptional.
Write to express, not to impress.
If you are a “Modern Family” buff, you probably remember that recent episode where Manny prepares a parody video of the smash hit musical “Hamilton” to get into the playwriting program of Juilliard School. He is so proud of himself at first, but he finds out there were hundreds of other aspiring students to the same school who did the same thing. Eventually he decides to do a video that shows a touching story of his immigrant mother and his stepfather who started a business from scratch.
The same thing applies with your essay. You don’t have to go all Shakespearean and stretch yourself too thin for something that isn’t you. The important thing is to express yourself clearly and relay the things that truly matters to you—all while maintaining authenticity.
Make sure your piece has a soul.
Most students try too hard to impress the admissions board that they offer a laundry list of their accomplishments. Sure, pointing out what you have achieved is certainly standard in any application—and it is with good reason that you are proud of yourself. However, it should not be about how many awards or recognitions you have received.
What is more important is to detail how those awards or recognitions contributed to your studies or your well-being. For instance, you may have received the Civic Engagement award from your school in the previous year. Don’t just give the name of the award, stop there, and name the next award. Instead, describe your inspiration behind your civic engagement and how important it is to be a concerned member of your society.
Do your research, but make sure to personalize it.
Admissions boards would take notice if you have obviously done your research about the institution. However, there is no need to expound on the school’s history or mission or vision. The admissions board know those already—they probably even helped write those!
What they are looking for is what you can bring to the table that aligns with their mission or vision and what your end goal is. Say you probably learned of someone from the school who moved on to greater things, someone you really admire, and you can say you wish to follow their example.
College essay applications are a Herculean task, but they don’t necessarily have to be if you just follow the tips above. We wish you the best of luck!