Do you just cross your fingers, hope for the best, and upload?
Wait! Before you hit that send button —
Here are 4 ways to check if you’ve written a good college essay:
1. Put the essay away for a day or two. Then read it again.
Reading your essay with fresh eyes will help you be more objective about your writing.
- The essay flows well from one paragraph to the other.
- It holds your interest from beginning to end.
- It says positive things about you.
- You’ve answered all parts of the question.
- You still like it.
2. Read your essay out loud.
- You shouldn’t stumble over words or phrases when you read your essay out loud.
- If you do stumble, look at your sentence structure and word choices, and revise the bumpy places.
- Read your essay out loud again to double-check it’s okay.
3. Ask yourself if your essay says everything you want it to say about you.
- Make a list of the important points you want the colleges to know about you when they’ve finished reading your essay. (For example: “I’m thoughtful and creative, and would go out of my way for a friend.”) Then go through your essay slowly and carefully and make sure those ideas are included. If they’re not, find a way to incorporate them.
- Sometimes an idea that you think is clear is actually not clear to the reader. This can be tricky for writers, because sometimes we’re so close to what we’ve written that it’s hard to tell. So make your list of important points and ask one or two adults to read your essay. Ask them whether or not they learned those things from your essay. If they didn’t, go back and clarify those ideas.
4. Pretend you’re a college reader.
For the next few minutes we’re going to give you a promotion. You’re a college admissions officer named Jordan. Jordan doesn’t know you. Jordan has already read 50 essays today, and some of them have been really boring.
Here is what you have to ask yourself:
- Will my introduction capture Jordan’s attention?
- Did I find an interesting way to tell my story, or has Jordan heard it the same way a hundred times? (“I’m so glad I won the big game.”)
- Is this a story only I can write?
- Does my personality jump off the page?
- Did I include interesting details?
- Does it say good things about me?
- What will Jordan know about me after reading my essay? How would Jordan describe me?
- Will Jordan think that I would be a good member of the college community?
Jordan’s got a lot to think about and so do you. So before you hit that send button, take time to re-read your essay, make sure it says what you want it to say, and put yourself in your college reader’s shoes.
And then you can hit upload.
Sharon Epstein is owner of First Impressions College Consulting in Redding, Connecticut. A Writers Guild Award-winner and two-time Emmy nominee, Sharon teaches students how to write memorable college application essays, write outstanding resumes, and master interview skills. She works with students everywhere: in-person, by phone, Skype and email. Visit her website for more information and connect on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.