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How to Write a Winning Admissions Essay for Your College Application

How to write a winning admissions essay
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As you may know, most universities around the world require prospective students to submit an admissions essay. Certainly, writing this essay is a very important step since it allows you to share more of your personality, background, goals, values, and everything that makes you a successful college applicant. Let’s try putting in some effort and creativity when writing it.

Also called a personal statement, this writing sample offers you the opportunity to convince the admissions officers that you are the right candidate for their undergraduate program. Also, it will let them see what you can bring to the table, how you can add value to the university, and how the degree you are pursuing will benefit you and others in the future. Let’s take a look at some Admissions Essay Dos and Don’ts:

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Admissions Essay Dos:

  • Follow a structure to organize your essay. Example: Introduction, thesis statement, supportive arguments, and conclusion.
  • Write self-reflectively. This will give you a lot of insight into who you are as a person and provide the reader with a sense of your voice. 
  • Highlight all your skills and ambitions. Present yourself positively. 
  • Choose a subject that you are knowledgeable about.
  • Use your voice. Some international students try to portray a different personality in an attempt to impress the admissions officer, but this could backfire since admissions officers are trained to identify misrepresentations. Be creative and use your own words to describe personal experiences.
  • Be authentic and genuine. This is the secret to proving that you are the right student for their institution. 
  • Use formal and conversational language to enable the admissions officers to relate better to your story.
  • Apply storytelling principles to better convey your messages (hint: show an obstacle and a resolution, appeal to their emotions). Include specific details, reasons, and illustrations. This will help you stand out during the selection.
  • Be honest. Some international students are usually tempted to exaggerate some details to impress the officer. However, this can ruin your chances of qualifying for university admissions. The best way to avoid exaggeration is to request a second opinion from a close friend or teacher. 
  • Take a course to learn how to successfully write essays, then have your advisor or teacher review your admissions essay and give you feedback.

Admissions Essay Don’ts:

  • Avoid using clichéd statements to describe your goals and motivations for the selected field of study. 
  • Don’t imitate someone else’s personality.
  • Limit overly formal language when writing a personal statement. 
  • Avoid rambling with words.

Sometimes, writing a college essay might seem stressful. However, some application platforms offer broad and open-ended application essay prompts that you can use to make the process easier.

The admissions essay usually has a word limit. In most cases, the limit depends on the university admissions requirements. Make sure to contact your university and follow all their instructions and prompts.

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Lastly, don’t forget to be yourself. You are extremely valuable, so share your voice, your stories, your experience, and your values. A winning essay starts with you.

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Author: Denisse Romero, MS, EdM. is an international consultant with experience in global communications, education, and technology. As a Harvard graduate and former international student, she provides advice and resources that help students in multiple countries achieve their educational and career goals. She holds a Master of Science in Information Systems from The George Washington University and a Master’s in Education from Harvard University.

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