It's that time to get serious about your future, specifically your college application and essay!
This month's guest writer is Mike Shank, Guidance Counselor at Shalom Christian Academy in Pennsylvania. Mike has been at SCA for 28 years, hosted 13 students and young adults. His sons, Ian and Sawyer are both students at Shalom Christian Academy.
College application essays can be intimidating but if you think of them as an opportunity for the college to get to know the real you, then it can remove some of the fear. Here are some helpful hints to make college essay writing less stressful.
The most basic task you have is to answer the question you are given.
Be sure your answer is a response to the question or essay prompt rather than a list of your accomplishments. There are other places on the application to list your accomplishments.
There is nothing wrong with “recycling” or reusing parts of other essays you have written if they are relevant to the question.
Please make sure if you are writing an essay for one college, such as Shippensburg University, do not write about what a great fit Bloomsburg University would be for you!
Sometimes colleges ask odd, hard-to-understand questions that are so open-ended it is difficult to know where to start in answering the question.
The purpose of these questions is to get to know you. If a college asks a question that you think is “weird”, maybe that college is not a good fit for you. Whether a question is strange or not, answering in an authentic, “true” manner is of primary importance.
Your task is not figuring out what the admissions counselor wants to hear. Your task is to communicate who you are in words.
Admissions counselors read many essays and they are skilled at detecting a lack of authenticity in essays. They can tell when essays are the result of heavy coaching or are written by a parent or other adult.
As you have opportunity and as it fits with the essay prompt, demonstrate interest in the college by showing how it is a good fit for you. Your response must come from a place of integrity and authenticity; it will, if your reasons for attending a particular college is more about its values, strengths and offerings than it is about prestige and name recognition.
Stay within the suggested word limit. Going over the word limit will not impress admissions counselors. It may hurt your cause if your essay is too long. It is more impressive to be concise while still completely answering the question.
My final piece of advice—be sure to have someone proofread your essay. Another set of eyes can see things that we may not see.
So face those essays fearlessly and let YOU shine through!
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