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Note From Kalen: As a writer, I am well aware of the debates over how to write. Writing a college essay is much different from writing online, or from writing a book. All writing tips are opinions, so please take them as such. Enjoy!

For students preparing to enroll in college, the most important part of the application is the essay portion.

Admission officers emphasize that your application essay can either ruin your chances or solidify your approval – that is how significant your application essay is.

Knowing what to include and what to exclude in your college admission essay is extremely important.

If you don’t know how to write a college essay, follow the tips discussed by EssayZoo below and draft yourself a successful admission essay.

1. Do Not Repeat Yourself

Admission board members know what is on their application. If you are wondering how to start an application essay, you should not start by writing plainly.

For example, instead of starting by writing “I like Jazz,” it is better to write “When I was eleven, my aunt handed me a Jazz album by Miles Davis and after that, I was captivated. I have loved jazz ever since.”

2. Don’t Mention Webster

Do not mention Webster’s unless you are including words like “demotic” (popular) or “prink” (beautify). You can draft your application essay assuming that your reader knows the meaning of the words you have written. Your essay will be more successful if you do not start it with “As defined in Webster’s dictionary…”

3. Don’t Use Quotations

Many essays begin with exciting anecdotes or quotes from an expert.

Due to the limited space, you have been accorded, it is wiser if you do not use up your word count on someone else’s words.

If you have to use references, keep the direct quotes to a minimum word count.

4. Don’t Use Present Tense

When you are writing about past events in your college application essay, the present tense does not leave room for reflection.

You should focus on telling your story. This occurs, then this occurs, then this occurs.

As a beginning writer, you might think that the present tense makes your work more exciting to read, but that’s often false.

Just think about how many brilliant novels are written using the past tense.

5. Don’t Use Noise Effects

Slam! Boom! Thwack! Splash! Bam! Swish!

Are you writing a comic book?

Undeniably, brilliant writing can benefit from the use of onomatopoeia. Boom is a good one, so is Slam. But once you begin including exclamation points, you are headed for trouble.

You can include noise effects when necessary, but do not overdo it.

6. Write With Activity

One way to capture your reader’s attention or make your reader giggle is to make body parts active.

When you write a phrase like “Her jaw dropped to the ground” your reader might visualize an image of a jaw dropping to the ground.

When your reader visualizes what you write, you’re winning.

7. Metaphor

Clichés spell out your thoughts on your behalf. For instance: ignorance is bliss.

We steal ideas and phrases all the time. As advised by George Orwell:

“Never use a simile, metaphor, or other figures of speech that you commonly hear or see in print.”

What makes a good college essay is the ability to think and write original thoughts.

8. Avoid “To Be” Verbs

As you write your college application essay, do not include “to be” verbs.

For example, replace “was” in “The collection of essays was written by a graduate; it was enlightening and delightful” and you will get: “The graduate’s collection of essays enlightened and delighted me.”

By moving from a static description to a concise one, you can significantly reduce the word count, leaving more room for your thoughts.

9. Avoid Common Phrases

Some phrases – personal beliefs, very unique, free gift, and final outcome – come in a package that application board members do not bother to unpack.

They are useless.

10. Follow the Essential Advice

In English class, there are set rules that your instructor says are essential for good grammar, such as: do not use contradictions.

Contradictions in college essays make you seem less credible so avoid them. Sentence fragments are a great example of a common thing to avoid. It’s also beneficial to avoid split infinitives. Ending with a preposition is unacceptable and do not start a sentence with a conjunction such as “but” “because” or “and” when writing any college paper.

Your English instructor might have also taught you that an essay follows the standard format of an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. That’s a good model to follow. Here is the common formatting:

  • Double-spaced
  • Times New Roman in a 12-point font
  • Each page must have your name, institutional affiliation, and date of birth
  • Your work should only be printed on one side of each page

Many students ask: “How long should my college essay be?” Well, the standard application essay has a suggested minimum of two-hundred and fifty words and no upper limit. Admission officers have huge stacks of essays to read every day and are expected to spend a couple of minutes on each essay. If you exceed seven-hundred words, you are borrowing from their time and straining their patience.

Final Words

For the high school senior, no subject is more fraught than the essay on the college application. Students tremble when they think about writing the essay and thereafter being judged on it. Follow the above college essay writing tips. They are guaranteed to ease the frustration and help you write a successful college application essay.

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