Often, in addition to your application, colleges (and scholarships) require an essay. The prompt is usually something along the lines of “tell about a time where you experienced growth” or “what inspires you to pursue a higher education?”. Essentially, even though the prompts may be different, they are both looking for the same thing. Both prompts want you to tell more about yourself.
Essays submitted with your application allow the college to get to know you better. After all, colleges don’t just let any person into their ranks, hence the application process. College essays allow the college to see if you’re a good fit and it puts you in more familiar terms with the person who may be reviewing your application.
Writing essays is not for everyone. This is where some people are the weakest in their application. Never fear! Colleges are not looking for a perfect essay. After all, there must be something for you to learn when you get there. Outside of the background and technical information on your application, this is where your spirit is supposed to shine though. It is not meant to be perfect, but it is meant to show personality.
First, try writing an initial base essay. Then, depending on the prompt, you can cut, edit, and add things here and there to make it more relevant. This way, as you apply to different scholarships and various colleges, you don’t have to rewrite a whole new essay every time. Save yourself some time and stress.
Your essay should narrate a pivotal point or self-realization in your life without getting too personal or descriptive. Give them the general idea or a quick snapshot into your life, and then go into how it made you grow and then how that growth has led you to the point you are at today. Your essay should be all about growth, a personal achievement, or something inspirational that makes the person reading your essay understand you and want to root for you.
All of that may sound complicated, but it is much simpler than it seems. Just write honestly. Remember this is not a rhetorical analysis or a standardized test essay, it is your essay. You are in control of what you want in that paper and the impression that you want to project onto the person reading your essay. Write what you mean and what you want to say -- but make sure it's meaningful. Don’t go into a tangent about how Boo Boo the bunny ran away when you were nine and how it was so devastating to you when you found out your mom lied about Boo Boo and that Boo Boo really… need I go on? Pick a singular event or a progressive chain of events or something that you really want to touch on that you believe led to some type of change in yourself or in your life. After you find that event, ask yourself one thing: Can I write about this? If yes, then go for it. If not, then try again.
Still confused? The best person that can help you out with this is your English teacher, preferably the one that you have in your junior or senior year. Have your English teacher, a friend, or a teacher read over your essay and let them give you feedback. Take that information and use it to improve your essay. Remember, let your essay be original.
An essay will not manifest itself in a matter of seconds. In order to write the best essay that you can, you have to work on it. There are such things as rough drafts. How well your application is done is important and the essay is a pivotal part of that.
Writing a college essay is hard work, but once you get it out of the way, you’re set!