Admission essay tips: choosing the main idea

The main idea of an admissions essay is to communicate a focal point and main idea to the review committee. To be able to write a strong essay you need to make strong paragraphs that support your main focus and idea. A paragraph is a group of sentences that focus on one main or central idea and offers examples and details of the central idea. The key is this: one idea per paragraph with details and support. Every paragraph in the essay needs to tie into your main idea.

The first step to writing a strong paragraph is to decide what to write about. Choosing a specific and focused topic is a very important step because it dictates what you will write about and how you should plan your paragraph. Sometimes the topic you are writing about is given to you. This makes it easier since you do not need to spend time deciding what to write about- you just need to decide how to write about the topic you have been given.

One of the most common mistakes beginning writers make is choosing a topic that is too broad. When you have to fit a lot of information into 8-10 sentences, you cannot choose a topic that is too broad- you will run out of space. What are some examples of topics that are too broad and how would we fix them so they could be used easily? Here are some common examples of what broad and narrowed topics might look like:

Too Broad: Families

Narrowed: My family, traditional families, non- traditional families, families in other countries

Too Broad: Neighborhoods

Narrowed: My neighborhood, rich neighborhoods, poor neighborhoods, neighborhood markets, neighborhood meetings, neighborhood schools

Too Broad: Dating

Narrowed: Dating for men, dating for women, dating for old or young people, online dating, traditional dating, match-makers, double dating

Too Broad: Celebrations

Narrowed: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Passover, Kwanza, anniversaries, birthdays, weddings.

Once we have our topic narrowed down, the next step is to develop a topic sentence. The topic sentence introduces the topic and lets the reader know what the paragraph will be about.

Narrowed Topic: Non-traditional Families.

Topic Sentence: There are many families that do not have a mother, father, and two children; these families are known as non-traditional families.

Narrowed Topic: My neighborhood

Topic Sentence: I know my neighborhood very well because I have lived there for the past 28 years and know every corner of it.

Narrowed Topic: Online Dating

Topic Sentence: Online dating is becoming the normal way people meet each other, and it only continuing to grow in popularity.

Narrowed Topic: Wedding Celebrations

Topic Sentence: Wedding celebrations take on many different forms and styles depending where in the world the wedding is taking place.

Without a strong focus and main idea, you cannot write a strong admissions essay, so be sure to keep these points in mind as you write your paper and focus in your main idea.

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