April 6, 2018

Two huge problems with college essays!

I’m working with a student that wants to go to a highly selective, “Ivy-like” college. He’s been promising to complete his first draft for a couple of weeks, but at our last meeting he had still not completed it. He is struggling to write it, because he thinks that he needs an incredible story of his accomplishments. He said, “To get into an Ivy League college, I have to have an outstanding accomplishment.” I told him that admissions departments know that he has not cured cancer as a 17 year old, but he still insists that he has to share something outstanding that he has done.

This is a common feeling that causes many students to freeze up while writing their essays. I have found that there are two problems with almost every essay that is submitted. If you can address these two areas, then you will have success at getting noticed by colleges.

It’s boring

When admissions advisors sit down to read 500 essays, it’s easy for them to skip over the essays that are boring! The readers are human and want to be entertained, so when the essays are boring, it’s hard to keep their attention. You ask, “How do I keep the reader from yawning?” Use stories. Everyone loves a good story. Stories show emotion and can captivate the reader. If you share a story that causes tears or creates laughs, then you will keep the reader’s interest.

You didn’t tell your story

The second most common essay mistake is that you don’t tell “your” story. Colleges want to get to know you, so it’s important to tell your story. Everyone has a voice when you write, and it’s key to share your voice through your story. The college wants to get to know you. Colleges are not looking for a well-balanced student; they are looking for a well balance student body. They want passionate people with great stories. If you have overcome a difficult time in your life, then tell your story.

They best way to write your essay is to find a quiet room, and leave your phone in the other room. Set a timer for 30 minutes and start writing as quickly as possible without any editing. Editing will come when you are done with your first draft. If you write as quickly as possible, then you will have some great things written down that you can use.

What writing techniques do you use to keep your readers engaged? I’d love to hear your ideas. Leave your ideas below in the comments so that we can all benefit!

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