Top Ten Tips

Wordworks’ Top Ten Tips for Writing a College Application Essay

1. Keep a journal of your ideas. Interview friends, family, and teachers about yourself. Look through your scrapbooks, photo albums, and Facebook page.

2. When there is a choice of essay questions, think carefully about which one will complement the rest of your application.

3. Focus on your attributes, perceptions, and values rather than on your accomplishments. Your job is to unveil who you are and how you think.

4. Take a risk. Original, candid essays are memorable. Safe, saccharin ones are not.

5. Be yourself. Write about what matters to you, not what you think the admissions committee wants to read.

6. Write in a natural, authentic voice. Write as though you’re having a conversation rather than giving a formal presentation.

7. Focus and illuminate rather than boast and list. The most effective essays are vignettes, not catalogues.

8. Be accurate. Make sure all of your references to books, current events, and the school to which you are applying are spot on.

9. Write and rewrite. Allow plenty of time for multiple drafts. Here’s where a writing coach is critical.

10. Proofread. Read your essay aloud to catch errors and awkward phrases.