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When it's time to start thinking about college application essays, many traditional high school students and students that are getting their high school diploma online get a little nervous and feel some pressure when it comes to completing the essay. But is it as important as some make it out to be? What do college administrators really think of the essay?
According to a 2011 report from The National Association for College Admission Counseling, the majority of colleges and universities believe the essay to be of considerable importance, having just about the same weight as that of your grades and admission test scores. This may cause some students a bit of anxiety, but the good news is that you can prepare yourself to write a well-prepared essay that will get the attention it deserves.
What do you write about? How do you write it? Where do you even begin? Fortunately, it's easier than you think to complete an essay. School administrators are simply using the essay to get to know you a bit better academically behind your achievements. As you move forward with the intent to write your college application essay, here are three tips to make your paper stand out from a sea of applicants:
Start your introduction by grabbing the reader's attention. You can do this by beginning your essay with a good question, an interesting quote from your favorite author or historical personality, or with a bold statement. For example, if you're getting your high school diploma online, you could begin with a bold statement about how you're mastering essential success skills like managing time, discipline, motivation, and independence by attending school from home. One of the most important keys to making the reader engage and want to read more is by making your introduction paragraph as interesting as possible, but done with a balance of creativity and professionalism.
While you might think that revealing your best achievements will make a good impression, doing so doesn't necessarily show who you are. Showing your personality through your words is better than giving them basic information such as grades or curriculum. Tell them something about yourself that's not in your school records. You may give a few examples of experiences you've been through or discuss your future goals. Let your personality soar in your essay. Be compelling by using specific descriptions. For example, instead of writing, "I am friendly and approachable." You can say, "I am the type of person who always spares time to help friends that are in need." Do your best to avoid clichés and generalized descriptions of yourself.
Finish your essay with a memorable ending so the reader is left with a certain emotion, making you unforgettable. You can end by writing a hanging sentence wherein you express your hopes for your future or write another interesting quote that summarizes your points. Also, feel free to take a look at other students' sample essay endings to get a feel for how others have ended their essays.
Your college application essay is your opportunity to reveal your best qualities, writing skills, and your personality. Though students obtaining their high school diploma online may feel that they are at a disadvantage if college administrators are not privy to online schooling, rest assured that most admission staff have moved way past that perceived barrier of thought. Be confident, professional, creative, and most of all, have fun while you're writing your application essay.