Aug 19, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Writing College Essays

Your Essay Needs To Tell Admissions Readers

  • Who you are
  • What you are passionate about
  • Why you should be in that class, what distinctive elements you will contribute
  • Cardinal rule of college essays: admissions committee should hear your voice, know more about your history, interests, values and goals.
  • “Add clarity, richness and meaning to other parts of application… The personal statement is your interview with the University of California.”
  • Also used to evaluate your communication and writing skills: “ability to make a point in easy-to- understand and clearly stated manner.” (U Texas)

Getting Started / Brainstorming Ideas

Familiarize yourself with the form: 

Personal essay

Keep a Journal: Record ideas for short prompts and major prompts weekly

  • Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure.
  • Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea.
  • Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content.
  • Rite of passage, formal or informal, within your culture or family.


Do writing exercises

  • Make a Timeline w/20 significant life events
  • Identify and describe objects in your room
  • "Value Search"- Define your top ten values in two sentences
  • Elevator Speech/Pitch to Admissions

How Do You Know When You Are Done? Ask….

  • Did I answer the prompt?
  • Does it have a strong intro and powerful conclusion?
  • Does it expand on presentation of who I am? Add info of value?
  • Is it written in my voice? Would someone who knows you well identify essay as yours?
  • Is it logical, grammatically correct?
  • Is it developed beyond chronology to reflection? Does it state why topic matters to you?
  • Does it complement other pieces of application?
  • Did I let it rest? Have someone else proofread, comment?
  • Did it meet word limit?
  • Did I give them a good reason to admit me?
Posted in Recent Talks, Writing College Essays.