The purpose of an admissions essay is to help level the playing field between students applying to college who have different educational backgrounds. In addition, it helps schools identify students who have the capability to do well at the college or university who did not have a remarkable record in high school.
The college or university typically provides a topic or a set of topics to choose from. These topics are often personal in nature and designed to help the admissions staff assess the students on several criteria, such as maturity, motivation for attending college, career aspirations, and of course, writing ability. For example, one topic offered by Texas State University reads: “Write an essay in which you tell us about someone who has made an impact on your life and explain how and why this person is important to you.” If offered a selection of topics, choose the topic that resonates most on a personal level.
Planning and Drafting
Create an outline that covers the main topics that will be discussed. Addressing the personal topic provided by the admissions department can be an emotional experience. However, it is important to follow the outline as closely as possible and to write a well-organized and high quality essay. Freewriting, or writing without a plan, can lead to a poorly organized essay that is difficult to follow.
Strive for a personal tone. Because the topics ask for a personal narrative or opinion, it is acceptable to write in first person unless the essay criteria specifically state not to do so. However, keep the language professional, but not stiff or artificial. Avoid using slang or offensive language. Keep in mind that your audience are admissions counselors, and they expect to see a college-level quality of writing.
Once a draft has been written, the revision process can begin. One of the criteria that admissions counsellors are looking for is an ability to follow directions. Compare the finished draft to the essay prompt as well as any criteria provided by the admissions department. If the essay does not match the criteria or follow the instructions as well as it might, revise to make it match the criteria more effectively.
Proofreading is also a vital part of the process. The essay must be as grammatically and syntactically perfect as is possible. It is a good idea to have a teacher review the draft before it is sent. They can advise about additional revisions that may be necessary, as well as help catch any errors.
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