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The Recipe for a Perfect College Essay (It Involves Nachos)

The Recipe for a Perfect College Essay (It Involves Nachos)

By Contributor

'olwhatshername follows up her first college admissions post with another handy guide!—Sparkitors

Here you go, Sparklers, the recipe for the perfect college essay:

Step 1: Buy Nachos

Step 2: Read below

This week’s article is brought to you courtesy of my culture shock after watching Clueless, a movie about a girl who has never stressed about college essays. Ever. In that spirit, we are skipping ahead to chapter nine of Don’t Stalk the Admissions Officer: How to Survive the College Admissions Process without Losing Your Mind, since you guys are so advanced. It’s called Writing the Essay: The Line Between Good and Bad is Thinner Than You Think. This is the advice the chapter offers:

“Read books a few months beforehand.” This should be easy, if you're in one of those things called "English class" that every high schooler has to take. The point of reading is that you improve your vocabulary and thought process. Here’s another idea: read articles or editorials about topics that interest you; if you can identify something you like about an author’s style, apply it to your essay!

“Don’t read too many sample essays.” While one or two might have the benefits mentioned above, an overload can make you lose your voice and write with other people’s ideas in mind.

“Ask a friend to write a short essay about you.” Or, of course, you could just ask them to describe you as they would to someone else. Let me know how this one works out for you, because I have a feeling that my friends would say something like, “watches too much Gilmore Girls.” (Impossible!)

“If you can manage it, make parents the last people who read your essay before you send it in.” Of course, their criticism can be helpful, but they can’t help not being totally objective. In short, take their commentary with a grain of salt.

“Ask for input from your English teachers.” Remember: the earlier, the better, because you’re not the only one in your school applying to college. Not to mention the fact that your teachers have tons of recommendations to write, and you don't want to catch them when they're too busy.

“Become conscious of the activities, routines, or rituals that are meaningful to you...These seemingly little things can make great essay subjects.” Face it: admissions officers can tell when you’re trying to snow them. You know how your teachers have seen every trick in the book? The people who read your essays have seen every trick in the book across the country, year after year. So you've got to show how your topic is special to you, and how it represents you as a student/applicant/person. (Example: my ferret legging competitions may not seem like much, but have really taught me the importance of compassion, understanding, and just how sharp ferret teeth are.)

Now that you know what TO do, here are some pitfalls to avoid:

Not conveying your point. You have five hundred words. Use them wisely. If you’re trying for humor, make sure you’re not the only one who gets the joke.

Talking about unresolved emotional issues. The author brings up an essay by a girl who felt like she was Gregor from Metamorphasis, trapped and suffocated, and she couldn’t wait to be set free at college. Know that if you discuss your frequent ferret-legging habits, colleges will most definitely question your emotional well-being.

Seeming arrogant or fake. Just generally a bad idea, for obvious reasons.

Not actually answering the question. Know how colleges are telling you to be creative? That’s nowhere near as important as completing the assignment.

Not communicating why you want to go to their school. Remember: colleges like to feel pretty, too.

Tell me what you guys want to hear about next post—where are you in your admissions process?

Related post: This Book Could Get You Into College!

Topics: Life, College Advisor
Tags: guides, college admissions, how to, college essays, applying to college, don't stalk the admissions officer

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