When it comes to applying for colleges, most admissions experts will tell you that your admission essay is the most important part of your application.
Yes, your GPA and SAT scores matter, but no other element can so easily separate you from the rest than a good well-written essay.
Here are five ways to make your good essay stand out from the crowd.
1. Develop a theme.
Instead of listing every extracurricular activity you have done or all the things you have participated in throughout high school, write one consistent theme that embodies who you are as a student and individual.
If you are an athlete but enjoy studying biology, write an essay about what it is like being a student scholar on your team, and how people perceive you as a scholar athlete. Incorporate specific examples of your science research and ways that this research could some day help society. Admissions officers love seeing tangible examples of student work.
2. Proofread, proofread, proofread.
Nothing looks worse on an admissions essay than grammar or spelling errors. Proofread your essay, correct the errors and then do it again. Read it out loud, read it backwards, and ensure that all mistakes are removed.
3. Think critically.
As you proofread your essay, think about every sentence and every paragraph critically. Could you write something differently to make a bigger impact? Is your word usage correct? How can you improve upon what you have written to make it even better?
4. Ask for editing help.
Your friends, your teachers or your school counselor may have ideas that can help your admissions essay become that one element that pushes you over the top and gets you into the college of your choice.
5. Revise accordingly.
As you work through these first three steps, revise your good essay accordingly. Each time you do, go right back to step number one and edit your essay again. If you work through these steps a few times, you will get to the point where you feel your essay can’t be improved any more.
Ross Blankenship is the president and director of TopTestPrep.com. He is an admissions expert who has helped students get into top prep schools, colleges and graduate schools.