College application time can be rough for high school students. When a student is focusing on getting one of the competitive college spots, they can end up getting stuck in every part of the process out of fear alone. They focus on perfecting every aspect of their application to the point where just getting started can seem like a major challenge. These tips for your college essay can help you get started.
1. Don’t Expect To Land It
The sad truth about most of education (and virtually all of the college application process) is the inevitably subjective administrators. There is no way to predict whether or not you’ll end up in any particular school (short of bribery or good friends. And even they’re not guarantees.) College application essays are almost completely subjective. No college essay tips can change that depressing truth.
The person that reads your essay might not like you. You may write an awesome essay that 9 out of 10 people would love but you could hit that 1 in 10 that thinks you are just a pretentious butt nugget. It happens and you shouldn’t expect to be able to prevent it.
Some college essay tips you hear might suggest pushing to get 10 out of 10 people to not be annoyed by your essay. The problem is that writing to be likable to everyone is a sure sign that no one will find you interesting. That may land you in the school but you definitely won’t be a shoo in.
2. Be Likable
Yes. Since most of this process is subjective, you can embrace that subjectivity. You should find a story or topic that makes you sound like a likable person. (It doesn’t matter if you’re actually a tool.) That means you should generally avoid the devil’s advocate positions and focus on topics that most people agree on (even if there is some internal debate on the details.)
When you take up these topics you risk sounding like a thousand other essays. To correct that, you may want to focus on finding some internal and relatively meaningless factor that you can inflate into a more important issue than it actually is. Then argue that point as if it’s notably controversial. That’s one way to make your essay sound more interesting. (It’s actually how most political shows make their arguments.)
There are plenty of other strategies to increase your likability without reducing your notability. This is one of the most important concepts to understand from these college essay tips. You want to avoid offending most people while still being more interesting than the average sea of boring college application essays.
3. Don’t Be Perfect!
One of the quickest ways to not be likable is to toot your own horn in your essay in an obvious way.
People that brag about their accomplishments are not at all likable. To some extent you need to select your topic based on this information.
If you had a completely true story about how you singlehandedly saved the world from nuclear war through your own cunning compassion then I’d tell you not to tell that story in the essay. It’s too much. Any attempt to tell that story would make you sound arrogant.
If, however, you almost accidentally caused a nuclear war but then help avert the catastrophe then it would be a story worth telling. That’s because you’re at fault for a major problem and you solved it. That makes you much more likable than someone without any fault in the matter.
These are, of course, ridiculous examples but they can help illustrate the point. Don’t make yourself sound too good in your essay. You need to sound more like a work in progress. Naturally, you want to try and make yourself sound good but try to at least sound humble about it.
4. Truth Doesn’t Matter But Believability Does
I’m not going to encourage you to lie. That being said, unless you say something absolutely outlandish, no one even cares. If you say something that’s easily verifiable online then you might also get in trouble. If you happen to talk about something very personal that would require actual detective work to disprove then no one will ever know.
The way you remember your life is wrong. Memories are not accurate. In fact, studies show that the more you think about a memory, the more of that memory gets corrupted. No matter how hard you try, you’re not going to be able to tell a perfectly accurate story. Instead of focusing on perfectly accurate, try to focus on making your point in a compelling way. Many of the students that tell these stories don’t even know how much they made up. Don’t be scared to add small flavor to what you write.
That being said, if you’re suddenly back on the topic about how you saved the earth from nuclear war, you’ll likely be assumed to be full of crap. In general, don’t say anything that sounds unbelievable (even if it’s true.) The only time you should say something unbelievable is when it was already huge news on the media, you’ve literally included some kind of proof, or you somehow know the person reading your essay knows it’s true. Otherwise, you risk getting your essays thrown out.
5. Write For The Wastebasket
Writer’s block often comes down to a fear of failure. This is one of the most powerful college essay tips to focus on. Instead of fearing failure, embrace it.
Write your essay fast. The more you let the essay flow out of you, the better your essay is going to sound in the long run. You can worry about prettying it up later. That is, you can worry about prettying it up if it’s worth prettying up to begin with.
Using this strategy, you should expect to write bad essays every once in awhile. In fact, if you’re particularly bad at writing essays then you may write 50% good ones and 50% bad ones. That’s not horrible. In fact, even if you throw out half of the essays you write, you’ll often end up saving a significant amount of time and stress by writing for the wastebasket. You don’t waste hours thinking about your essay and you just get in on paper fast.
Don’t worry about perfecting your essays until you’ve completed a first draft of the essay worth worrying about. Most people invest so much stress and energy into their first draft that they hardly invest any energy in their later drafts. That just leads to a worse essay overall. It’s much better to save the stress for the later drafts.
6. Get It Checked
College essay tips like this one should be blatantly obvious but so many students end up just ignoring them.
After you write an essay that you’re satisfied with, you need to get someone else to check that essay. Ideally, you want a teacher checking the essay. That way you know they’re at least reasonably qualified to check your information. That being said, if you’re squeamish then getting someone else to read your essay is the minimum.
Some of the most common mistakes that people make are some of the most obvious. Often these mistakes just come down to the writer being too invested in the paper to notice. The mistakes are often stupid spelling mistakes or incorrect words that the writer just glazes over. These mistakes need to be taken seriously.
One single stupid error risks getting your essay thrown out. It doesn’t matter how well you wrote the rest of the essay. That single mistake shows the school that you don’t care enough to check your work.
7. Don’t Use College Essay Tips To Procrastinate!
Yes. You can search for college essay tips all day long and keep looking for more information that could improve your final essay. Odds are though, you don’t need more advice. If a student is seeking guidance for their essay then they’re usually intelligent enough to write a quality essay without any guidance at all.
College essay tips aren’t what you need. What you need is to buckle down and do the work that you need to do for that college essay. Some of the most common problems students have are not all that difficult to solve but are just the natural human tendency to procrastinate kicking in.
Can’t think of a good topic? Write using a bad topic. This may become the good topic once you start digging into it.
Can’t think of a good first line? Start a second line.
Don’t think you know what you need to? You do.
Do you want to know how to study in less than 15 minutes a night? That is what this blog is all about. Be sure to follow and check out the archives for all the details. Also, be sure to check out the ebooks in the sidebar.
Accelerated Learning Secrets First Written About In Shakespeare’s Times Reemerging And Being Conclusively Proven In Today’s Academic Journals
Professors Karpicke of Purdue University and Roediger, III of Washington University published an incredible paper that is making waves in the top rungs of Academia.
Colleges have taken pride in their ability to train the next generation of students for decades now. By subjecting their students to intimidating reading, long and immense lectures, and rigorous and unforgiving testing, they claim to have properly trained their graduates.
But modern research methods are calling those very claims into question.
You see… what these professors have discovered (and more are joining them every day) is shaking the very foundations of academia – all of the endless hours of studying, reading books, taking notes, and listening to endless lectures… doesn’t really teach students all that much – not even preparing them for the very tests they’re using.
The exact things that colleges and many professors have been encouraging are hindering students’ abilities to learn by occupying their time with ineffective methodologies.
Effective learning isn’t rocket science either….
“Francis Bacon wrote about these effective study strategies in the 1500’s – and the research is proving that we should have been listening to the preachers of this all along,” says Aaron Richardson, founder of Smart Student Secrets, a decade old, religiously followed, website dedicated to reintroducing these strategies to modern students.
“The reality is, the average university spends 4 years lecturing a student on what they could master in 6 months or less – if they used effective strategies.”
Confronting Mr. Richardson, I grilled him on the academic defenses of our country’s historic and prestigious Universities.
R: Doesn’t the work separate the wheat from the chaff? Give them work and those that best do it are better BECAUSE they worked harder to do it. The hard work itself is the target.
A: Assuming the wheat is the people that mindlessly follow directions and don’t have better things to do with their time… sure. But I’m advocating for the creative thinkers that are willing to challenge the status quo. They’re the wheat I’m giving my tools to.
R: But colleges say your strategies help you score higher on tests but not “understand” the material in a deeper way. Any response?
A: First thing, in academia, you’re judged on your ability to pass tests and answer questions – they have no other way. By their own standards, their strategies are worse.
Second, mull on any idea for a few years longer and you’ll have a deeper understanding of it. That’s the easy part. You do it every time you take a shower. The hard part is learning enough of the component parts to be able to mull it over. The sooner you do that, the sooner you can understand it deeper.
And one more thing…
I don’t really care if they criticize because the data speaks for itself. I advocate for the data their own studies are proving. They may be able to hide the truth for a while but it’s getting out and the longer they hold out, the worse it’s going to look for them – not me.
R: Mr. Richardson you have recently published a guide outlining his effective strategies in detail. It’s called, “How To Study Happier,” and has a 4 star review from students and some reviews making some pretty impressive claims. Right?
A: I’ve dedicated my life to helping students that are like the kid I used to be. And I guarantee that my book can help you get better grades – and if you’re not 100% satisfied with the changes then I’ll refund it completely. Show me one college that will do that for you!
R: So… Mr. Richardson, I’ve heard you’ve been taking some heat from academia over your claims.
A: For legal reasons, I have to keep my mouth shut on this one. All I can say is that I can’t guarantee my content will stay available much longer. Get it now or prices will be higher for legal reasons (if I can even keep the book available.)
Now is the time to click on the link I’ll add below, fill in the boxes, and get your copy today if you’re interested.
Get your copy of How To Study Happier