Good ways to start off a college essay

Though you may want to jump right into your college essay, you should know exactly what is asked of you before you even open up that blank Word Document. Carefully read the prompt and see what type of essay your teacher wants you to write, specific information to include, how many words are required, and how much research is required for the essay.

Consult your rubric to know exactly what your teacher is expecting. Here are some things you should be very clear about before you begin: Word count. If your essay only needs to be words long, it will be very different from an essay that needs to be 2, words long since you may need to be more specific. You don't want to weary your teacher by writing an essay that is much longer than required, or much shorter than required. The amount and type of required research.

Some classes will require you to write a paper that is heavily based on outside research you've done. Others will require you to use the course materials, like novels, or textbooks, for the basis of your paper, and to draw your own conclusions, though almost every good essay is based on solid research. If you have any questions, talk to your teacher well before the day the assignment is due to clarify any concerns you may have.

Master the different types of essays. There are many different types of essays you may have to write in college, and it's good to be aware of the variety of essays out there so you know what is expected of you.

Step 1 - Make It Part of Your Outline

This essay will ask you to persuade your readers to see your perspective on an issue. For example, an essay showing readers all the reasons why personal handguns should be banned will be a persuasive essay. The analytical essay. This type of essay is most common in literature courses. This essay will ask you to read a work and to analyze the words, themes, characters, and meaning using your own ideas as well as other scholarly sources for the topic.

The expository essay.

How to Write a Great College Application Essay | CollegeXpress

This type of essay will pick a process or situation and will explain the important aspects of this subject, such as describing the daily lives of college students. The research essay. This essay will ask you to dig deeper into a topic by researching it and informing your readers of its history, uses, or relevance.

The compare and contrast essay. This type of essay will ask you to compare and contrast two topics and to show how they are similar or different. For example, an essay analyzing all of the similarities and differences between living in New York City and Los Angeles is a compare and contrast essay. Define your audience. Are you writing for your professor, for your classmates, for experts in your field, or for people who are new to the subject?

If you're writing for experts in the field, then you don't have to define basic terms and can use a more advanced vocabulary, but if you're writing for people who don't know much about the topic, like analyzing a film for readers who haven't seen it, then you'll have to give more basic details. If you're writing a research paper on a topic that may be esoteric or unfamiliar to your readers, then you'll have to explain the research you've found in great detail. Define your purpose.

What is your purpose in writing the essay? Is it to inform, to entertain, to persuade, to define, to compare and contrast, to analyze, to synthesize, or to tell a story? Knowing your purpose right away can help you frame your argument and reach the right people in the right way. For example, if your goal is to persuade people, you'll have to develop a logical argument with compelling main points that convince your readers to see your point of view. If your goal is to compare and contrast, then you'll have to be knowledgeable about the differences and similarities of two topics.

If your purpose is to inform, then you'll have to thoroughly study a topic and help your readers understand it better. Manage your tone. Tone is another important aspect of writing a successful college essay. For most essays, your tone should be professional, detached, and informative.

If you use too much biased language to try to convince your research, then you won't sound authoritative.


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If you use slang or write in the first person, then you won't sound professional. But if you're writing a personal essay for a course on writing a memoir, for example , then you'll get to use more comfortable, informal language. Your tone is your attitude toward the subject you're presenting.

Top 6 Common Application Essay Tips

Is your tone detached, amused, slightly cynical, suspicious, or more passionate? Whatever the tone is, it has to be appropriate to the subject matter. If you're writing an essay about stem-cell research, for example, your tone should be objective and detached; if you were writing an essay about online dating, you could take a more amused or playful tone.

Do your research. Though it may be fun to jump right into an essay without knowing exactly what you're talking about, the best thing you can do is to do your research first so you build a solid foundation for your thinking. Get the texts you need, take notes, and read them until you feel that you've mastered the topic and have enough information to write an essay or formulate an argument.

How to Get Started on Your College Essay

Make sure that the materials you use are credible and come from established professionals. Anyone can write about how they won the big game or the summer they spent in Rome. When recalling these events, you need to give more than the play-by-play or itinerary. Describe what you learned from the experience and how it changed you.

A student who can make an admissions officer laugh never gets lost in the shuffle. But beware. What you think is funny and what an adult working in a college thinks is funny are probably different. We caution against one-liners, limericks and anything off—color. Set it aside for a few days and read it again. Put yourself in the shoes of an admissions officer: Is the essay interesting? Do the ideas flow logically? Does it reveal something about the applicant? What you write in your application essay or personal statement should not contradict any other part of your application—nor should it repeat it.

This isn't the place to list your awards or discuss your grades or test scores. A teacher or college counselor is your best resource.

And before you send it off, check, check again, and then triple check to make sure your essay is free of spelling or grammar errors. Connect with our featured colleges to find schools that both match your interests and are looking for students like you.


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  • Gradually, my confidence in my American identity grew as I recognized my ability to answer most of her questions. Together, we worked through conflicting allegiances, homesickness, and stretched belonging. Forging a special, personal bond with young refugees proved a cathartic outlet for my insecurities as it taught me to value my past.

    My transculturalism allowed me to help young refugees integrate into American life, and, in doing so, I was able to adjust myself. Interests — Interest are basically synonymous to activities, but slightly broader you could say that interests encompass activities ; participation in an interest is often less organized than in an activity. For instance, you might consider cross country an activity, but cooking an interest. Writing about an interest is a way to highlight passions that may not come across in the rest of your application.

    You should also feel free to use this topic to show what an important activity on your application really means to you. Read a successful essay answering this prompt. This prompt lends itself to consideration of what facets of your personality allow you to overcome adversity. There are times in life when your foundation is uprooted. For example, if you lost a friend due to an argument, you can analyze the positions from both sides, evaluate your decisions, and identify why you were wrong.

    The Essay Could Turn a

    The key is explaining your thought process and growth following the event to highlight how your thinking has changed. Did you ever admit your fault and seek to fix the problem? Have you treated others differently since then? How has the setback changed the way you view arguments and fights now? Framing the prompt in this way allows you to tackle heavier questions about ethics and demonstrate your self-awareness. For example, if you used to stutter or get nervous in large social groups, you could discuss the steps you took to find a solution.

    To my shame, I had been appallingly ignorant of his pain. When my parents learned about The Smith Academy, we hoped it would be an opportunity for me to find not only an academically challenging environment, but also a community. This meant transferring the family. And while there was concern about Sam, we all believed that given his sociable nature, moving would be far less impactful on him than staying put might be on me.

    But preoccupied with new friends and a rigorous course load, I failed to notice that the tables had turned. Sam had become withdrawn and lonely. While I saw myself as genuinely compassionate, I had been oblivious to the heartache of the person closest to me. We stayed up half the night talking. He told me how challenging school had always been for him, due to his dyslexia, and that the ever-present comparison to me had only deepened his pain.

    We had been in parallel battles the whole time and, yet, I only saw that Sam was in distress once he experienced problems with which I directly identified. This experience has reinforced the value of constantly striving for deeper sensitivity to the hidden struggles of those around me. A more tenable alternative here could be to discuss a time that you went against social norms, whether it was by becoming friends with someone who seemed like an outcast or by proudly showing off a geeky passion.

    And if you ever participated in a situation in tandem with adults and found some success i. Another way to answer this prompt is to discuss a time when you noticed a need for change. In a similar way, if you led a fundraiser and recognized that advertising on social media would be more effective than the traditional use of printed flyers, you could write about a topic along those lines as well.