Last week, teaching artist Meryl DePasquale offered a course called “Writing the College Application Essay.” Her students completed application essays in class–and better yet (for you, our reader, at least), they collaborated on a list of tips to help other high school seniors write their application essays.
Here are their tips:
1. Don’t be afraid to be too personal. The voice in your essay should sound genuine; the topic should be something that applies only to you.
2. Negative experiences are good material when they are written about in a mature, optimistic tone. Don’t complain or dwell too much on the sad/unpleasant parts.
3. Think broadly about your life and identity, but then find a specific story that exemplifies the points you want to convey.
4. Try writing about several different topics before you settle on one.
5. What about yourself do you want to incorporate? Put a few words at the top of your page to keep you focused as you write.
6. Avoid mechanical writing (an obvious thesis statement, rigid 5 paragraph essay structure). Instead be creative; “show don’t tell” and let the reader infer what is important.
7. The lesson, or overall point to your essay should be original. Don’t rely on cliches like “practice makes perfect” or “money isn’t everything.”
8. Ask several different people for their opinions on your draft.
Thanks so much to Daniel D., Doyeon K., Franny C., Maddy J., Madison N., and Sean S. for their expertise!
If you’re still daunted by the task of writing essays, check out these class offerings for the rest of the summer:
Essay Writing for the SAT/ACT and for Fun
- Writing the Personal Essay for College Applications and Fun
- So You Want to Write an Essay for the Common Application?
Click here for more information and registration.