"I once heard one [essay-writing] professional brag about slipping in mistakes to throw off admissions officers," he says."That's just disgusting."Rule #1: When Tackling a Global Issue, Make it Personal Brown Freshman Nawal Traish could have chosen to write about U. relations with Libya or general unrest in the Muslim world.(A few more: Don't write about mom and dad's divorce, and no general philosophizing—you're 17, get over yourself.) Admissions season is under way, and with early applications deadlines starting November 1, you've only got a few more days to polish your make-or-break essay.Straight As and stellar SAT scores won't be enough.Instead, she speaks to her personal relationship with Libya, her father's homeland, and her own understanding of her Islamic faith."It's a mistake for students to think that they have to come up with any deep or life-altering topic," says University of Virginia's Greg Roberts, who expects to read essays this year on Afghanistan, health care, and other hot political issues.And yet she chose to write her essay about giving up on ballet, rather than persevering once she'd tired of it.
"Students regularly conjure up who admissions officers are, what they look like and what they're interested in," says Pomona's Bruce Poch.
The applicant wasn’t the star of the team, Roberts remembers, and didn’t even like playing baseball much.
“But he talked about being nervous and excited at the same time, about how the freshly cut grass reminded him of his grandfather,” Roberts says.
Be as descriptive as possible about the moment you're writing—we want to see it, smell it, touch it." ( Click here to read Isabel's essay.)Rule #4: Make Sure You're the Hero of the Story By emphasizing her own personal challenges and then showing how she wouldn't allow them to subsume her, Hannah Edwards was able to make herself look good without bragging.
"It's fine to talk about your dad being a coke fiend or your stint in rehab with your favorite WB crush," Ponnusamy says, "but unless you end up as the 'hero' in the essay, you will have done nothing to help you and it's the one place you're guaranteed to have the opportunity to speak in the first-person." ( Click here to read Hannah's essay.)Rule #5: Make Your Intellectual Curiosity Clear Rahul Kishore wanted Cornell to know how obsessively devoted he was to science, and his essay describes in great detail his fascination.