Great Advice on How to Write a High School Application Essay

If you’re a high school senior, chances are you are just around the corner from having to write an application essay for your college or university application. Whether or not you decide to write your college application essay on one of the prompts, it’s always a good idea to review the Common Apps essay prompts to weigh all of your options.

Here is some advice on how to write a great high school application essay:

  • Answer the question prompt exactly. College admissions committees spend an awful lot of time crafting the essay prompts; you should consider every part of the question and be sure to answer thoroughly. The questions are designed to reveal something about your personality. The last thing you want the admissions committee thinking is that you can’t follow directions.

  • Write clearly and concisely. Your application essay is not the place to show off your vocabulary. Actually, no place really is when it comes to effective writing. The last thing you want to do is confuse your reader with difficult syntax or words that require your reader to check in a dictionary. Clear and concise writing is undoubtedly the best approach. Just think about how embarrassing it would be if you misuse a word when you were trying to impress.

  • Make sure your essay is enjoyable and interesting. Most essay prompts ask you to relate an incident or recount a significant event. These are stories, each with a beginning, a middle and an end. Take the opportunity to turn your response into a story that elicits an emotional response from your reader. Before telling your story, map out all of the essential elements that require emphasis. Find out what your main points are and get rid of any excess fluff that doesn’t move the story along.

  • Show, don’t tell your story. Your essay will lost all interest and meaning if you don’t take the time to fill in interesting details that paint the picture surrounding the people and settings in your story. Be sure, though, not to put in details that are unimportant to the story. Too many details will obscure both the meaning and plot. A great idea is to read some fiction before starting your essay to see the difference between telling and showing.

  • Write a compelling hook. Think about the college admissions officers who will be reading your essay. Chances are they’ve read hundreds of essays before your own. So you need to write something that is going to grab their attention and set you apart from other applicants. Do this from the start. A choice opening line will compel your reader to keep going. Don’t start slow. Get right down to the action.

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