How to Stand Out in Your College Essay

If you think about it, the members of the selecting acceptance board at the colleges you are applying to probably read hundreds of essays a week. So, what will make you stand out? Finding a topic is difficult enough, but how can you paint a crystal clear picture in your audience’s eyes of the characters and setting of your story? How can you pull empathy from your reader to help express the tone, mood, and conflict you want to convey?

Making your essay as specific as possible will make it more interesting for the board members to read, not only help you stand out from others, but it will also be easier for you to write. You were there and know your idea better than anyone, so write as specifically as possible! It is better to have too much detail and go back and delete redundant information than struggle to randomly add details here and there to reach a word count. Make your job easier and write as if you’re simply retelling a story to someone who has no idea what you’re talking about.

However, try to avoid using “english-paper voice” and overcomplicating. I know these ideas sound contradictory, but detail in a concise story does not always mean oversimplification. This is your chance to show your true voice! College admissions is a once in a life time process, use it to your advantage.

One effective idea is to use sensory images: descriptive details that bring your subject to life: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch.

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