College essays can seem like an intimidating challenge, but the truth is they don’t have to be. Many colleges require that you write an essay, but if you’re lucky enough to get in to the college of your dreams, there’s no reason not to try and do your best on this important assignment. If you want to make sure that you get the highest grades possible on your essay, follow these seven tips for writing an essay that pays off without having to pay for essay.
- Start early
No matter how you slice it, college essays are a big deal. They’re often your first contact with your school and they have an enormous impact on your acceptance rate. The longer you have to write and revise, the better (and more successful) essay you’ll produce. Many colleges require that these essays be submitted before September of senior year, so if you start right away—especially in high school—you’ll give yourself ample time to work on multiple drafts and revise based on professor feedback.
- Write, revise, and edit multiple times
It’s no secret that there are plenty of ways to write a college essay, but let’s take a minute to go over why you need to spend time revising your piece multiple times before submitting it for review. Even if your writing is perfect on your first try, you might be surprised at how much improvement you can make with a few rounds of edits and revisions. Revising gives you an opportunity to change perspective, improve flow, and add new details as needed. The bottom line: If you want your essay to shine in front of admission officers, don’t send it out without giving yourself ample opportunities to revise!
- Know your topic in depth
If you’re writing about something you don’t know much about, it will be painfully obvious. Research your topic extensively, and be sure to cite your sources. Knowing what experts in your field have to say will lend credibility to your work and make readers more likely to read—and share—your essay. It also helps you better understand what information is missing from your essay, so that you can fill those gaps with compelling material of your own. (Bonus: Learning new things is a great way to stave off boredom during those long study sessions.)
- Write what you know
When thinking about a topic for your essay, it’s best to write what you know. Talk about experiences that have affected you in some way and make sure to connect them to your life goals or vision for yourself. Having personal experience with something and using that as inspiration to write an essay shows admissions committees not only that you’re passionate about what you do but also that you have true potential as a student at their school.
- Edit your own writing
Many college students don’t take the time to edit their own writing. They tend to rush through a paper or essay, eager to finish and hand it in, only to have an instructor spot a typo or a grammatical mistake. Others are so busy trying to meet deadlines that they get frustrated when their teachers offer edits on their papers. But you should always welcome feedback from your instructor on how you can improve your writing skills.
- Seek outside help from teachers or other students if needed.
Whether it’s in grade school or college, many students tend to lack confidence in their essay-writing abilities. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can get outside help for your college essay: asking your teachers for editing and proofreading assistance, joining a writing club on campus, or enlisting the help of other students (who may have an English minor). It’s okay to ask for help! Many people will be willing to lend you their ears—just remember that not all feedback is useful.
- Make sure you proofread before submitting your essay for good marks.
When you submit an essay for a grade, your instructor is going to look at every word with a fine-tooth comb. It’s easy to overlook typos and grammatical errors when you’re writing, especially when you’re in a rush, but any mistakes will probably be caught by your teacher. While grammar doesn’t make or break your score (that depends on what kind of essay you write), it can affect how well your ideas are presented and flow together.