Essay Tips, in 500 Words or Less

By Dana Eagle

It’s that time of year of again!  Applications are rolling in from prospective students eager to begin the next chapter of their academic and professional careers.  But before you hit that submit button, here are a few helpful hints on one of my favorite parts of the application; the essay!

Tip #1: Be sure that you have proof-read your essay.  It sounds simple enough, and you’ve hit the spell check button a few times, but your work does not end there.  Spell check is not going to capture all of the other potential mistakes that may have found their way into your writing.  For instance, have you used the proper spelling of there, their and they’re?  Is your punctuation the way it should be?  Does the name of the school to which you are applying match the name of the school you are speaking about in your essay?  Sounds silly, but you would be surprised…it does happen!

Tip #2: Be sure that you are answering the question that the essay is asking.  While it can be fun to story tell and get creative, you want to be sure that your creativity is not taking you away from the focus of the question at hand.  Also, be mindful that every application is different.  What one school requires as an essay, another school may not.  Therefore, it is not in your best interest to cut and paste your essays if you are applying to more than one school.  My best advice here is to give your essay to someone else for a read, and do not tell that person what question you are attempting to answer.  After they have read your work, ask them if they can determine the question at hand based on your response.  This will provide you with a good idea of how clear you have been in your writing.

Tip #3: Consider the essay an opportunity to show the Admissions Committee your personality.  While it is important to stay on topic, and be concise, it is equally important to be yourself.  The best way to ensure that you are being true to who you are in your writing is to let someone else read your essay before submitting it for review.  A best friend, sibling, spouse, or co-worker can all serve as excellent resources.  You also want to keep in mind that this essay is a key component of achieving your ultimate goal of admission to the school of your choice.  Therefore, while it is very important to be yourself, you also want to make sure that you are being your very best professional self at the same time.

Hopefully these tips will prove useful to you as you continue to work on your essay.  I wish each of you the best of luck, and look forward to reading your application for the fall!

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