College Essay Writing: Last Minute Tips

When applying to college, SAT preparation is important, but there is more to the college admissions process than standardized test preparation and SAT scores. The college essay gives you the opportunity to share a part of yourself that an SAT score or high school transcript cannot convey. Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Harvard College, William R. Fitzsimmons, recently wrote in a piece for The New York Times, “One of the great clichés of college admissions is the exhortation that students find their own voices in the essay (and interviews)—and ‘be themselves.’ It’s a cliché because it’s good advice.”

At this point, you’re probably well on your way to having an impeccable college essay that will blow admissions officers away, but you also probably feel like you have been working on it forever! Remember the difference between a good college essay and a great college essay is that extra time you put into the writing process, so don’t skip out on the crucial final stages!

  • EDIT: “Perhaps this point would fit in better at this part of my essay,” or “Maybe this really doesn’t support my topic” might be a few of the considerations that come to mind while editing your college essay. Do my ideas flow logically? Am I getting my point across? Review every element of your essay with a critical eye. Good editing skills and attention to detail will help you transform your rough draft into a perfectly polished essay.
  • PROOF: There’s no room for spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors in your essay, so get rid of them! Consider making appropriate changes for improving writing style and consistency. During this stage it might pay off to have someone else take a look at your writing. You’ve probably been working on this for some time, and a new set of eyes could very well pick up on something that you’ve missed.
  • POLISH: You’ve finished proofreading and correcting all of the errors you came across. Now, it’s time for finishing touches. Does everything read well and flow smoothly? If you effectively worked your way through each stage of the college essay writing process, polishing should simply be matter of crossing your “t”s and dotting your “i”s.

English author, Samuel Johnson once said, “What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.” The college admissions essay could be one of the most important essays you ever write. Taking the time to write it well and to really find your voice in your subject matter could pay off—big time.

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