If you’re a top-notch high school student with strong grades, chances are that one of the skills that got you to that position was your ability to write a good essay. Fortunately, college admission essays give you an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your skills and win entrance to the ideal college of your choice.
Here are 3 questions from a standard Common Application, and some tips that college admission officers will be looking for:
#1 Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
The word “evaluate” is tricky – you’re not simply being asked to recount your experience with some terse facts and storytelling; you’re being asked to dissect the situation with insight and introspection. Be sure to demonstrate why the item you’ve chosen was of personal importance and include any background information about yourself which is relevant to its impact on you.
#2 Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.
While it may be tempting to simply take a current news item or popular topic and write an essay on the general public opinion of it, the real key to writing this essay well is the “importance to you” part. College admission officers are looking for insights into your personality, as well as your ability to write cohesively and engagingly. Choose a topic that’s close to your heart to write the best possible material.
#3 Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.
While the word “indicate” may throw you off, what college admission officers are really looking for is your clarity in describing and characterizing the person and why you felt they were influential to you. The influence may have been positive (“My hero is…”) OR negative (“I learned what not to do from…”), but ultimately you should be able to adequately bring to light key elements of the person and his/her actions and tie those elements to your own personal character to illustrate that influence.