A college essay is important. In fact, next to test scores and your academic marks, it may be the most important thing in a college application. In fact, some even say that a good college essay can even overcome a not-so-great test score or overall marks. While a college essay is very important for all degree applications to top US colleges and universities, it becomes the most important thing in a PhD application to top
US colleges and universities. In this post, which is Part 1 in a series of articles on college essays, we offer some tips and guidelines to get you started on the right path.
- What is the purpose of the college essay? Students often forget about the purpose of the college essay. It is very simple: to tell the Admissions Officer or the faculty at a top US college or university about YOU and your academic interests. You should not repeat what you made in your test scores like the GRE or GMAT or your degree marks or GPA. That is already given in the application. Instead, you should tell them about your "other" academic credentials or interests. In other words, in your college essay you should tell them about things that you were not able to say in the application form. Don't write anything in your college essay that is already covered in the application form at a US college or university. The first thing to do in writing a college essay is to outline all your academic accomplishments and interests. Tell them why you want to major in your chosen area. Tell them what you hope to do with that major. Tell them how you got interested in this field. Tell them about a Professor or friend who motivated you. Tell them
- if you have done some thing interesting in this area. The reader should have an ah-ha moment after reading your essay. In other words, he or she should be able to know you better after reading the essay than they did before they read the college essay. This is the most important part. If you can do this, the rest is easy. Unfortunately, this step is not easy. So we recommend that you do a brain dump. What is a brain dump? Simply write everything that comes to your mind when you think about your academic profile and interests. It doesn't have to be in any order nor does it have to be in good English. Just write down whatever comes to mind about your academic profile. You may not remember everything the first time you sit to write. So just keep adding to it every time you remember something. Take several days or even weeks to complete this exercise. This is the most important step in writing a good college essay, particularly for top US colleges and universities that pay a lot of attention to your college essay.
- Want to impress someone? If you want to impress someone, write your college essay in simple English. For God's sake, don't use words that no one can understand in your essay. Simply because a word can be found in the dictionary, does not mean you should use it in your essay! We read a number of essays with big words and the essay stinks! Why? Because often students use big words without truly understanding their meaning. They use it because they read it somewhere or they like the sound of it. What happens to your essay when you do this? Your essay reads terrible and the reader is really put off. Top colleges and universities in the US and around the world want to get to know you - they are not interested in seeing how many words you know from the dictionary.
- Short on time? Stressed? Not a good time to write the college essay if you are stressed or short on time. In many ways, the college essay is like a piece of art. Sure, you can do a sloppy job, but a good essay is a sweet experience for the reader. Set aside several weeks or even a couple of months to write your college essay. Most students applying to top US colleges and universities think they can write an essay in one weekend or over a couple of days. This is a bad idea. When you are in a rush or in a lot of stress, the chances of you writing a good essay reduce significantly. Instead, set aside several weeks to write the essay. Write it and re-write. Write it and then read it a day or so later. Continue to refine your essay.
So there are three things that you should remember from this article about how to write a good college essay:
1. Make a long list of everything you want to share with a top US college or university Admissions Officer about your academic profile and interests.
2. Write your college essay in simple language.
3. Set aside several weeks to write your college essay. Start to write your essay the day you decide which colleges or universities you plan to apply to in the US for your PhD or for that matter, MBA or any other degree.
In the next article, we will offer tips on the content of your college essay. Good luck!