Three Ways That a Writing Coach Can Improve Your College Admission Essay Or Personal Statement

Three Ways That a Writing Coach Can Improve Your College Admission Essay Or Personal Statement
In an article entitled "Writing The Essay: Sound Advice from an Expert", Parke Muth, Senior Assistant Dean and Director of International Admission at the University of Virginia, states that ninety percent of the college admission essays submitted to the university as one of the application requirements, consist "primarily of abstractions and unsupported generalization".
The Assistant Dean refers to these essays as "McEssays", intending no disrespect to McDonald's, but suggesting that the consistency of product quality that is a desired result in the fast food industry is a killer in the college admission essay business. In short, if your college admission essay or personal statement reads like every other essay or statement that the Admissions Officer reads, you will not improve your chances of being accepted into the college or university of your choice.

So, how can you make sure that your application stands out?
There are many hallmarks of good writing, regardless of the genre, but the college admission essay or personal statement, because it is, by definition, autobiographical, needs to have the following three elements: 1) insight 2) a distinctive voice and 3) rich detail

Let's consider each of these elements:

1) Insight
It is not enough to simply relate or describe an incident or experience in your life. You must relate that experience to an insight that you gained through that experience. What the Admissions Committee is looking for is an ability to reflect upon your past experiences and to express what you learned, how you were changed and, most importantly, how you have grown through the experience. Reflecting upon the past is meaningless unless it leads to greater self- awareness and maturity, and that is what your essay needs to express.

2) A Distinctive Voice
Your college admission essay has to grab the attention of the Admissions Officer in the first sentence, or if not, in the first paragraph. The way to do that is not by using big words or by writing about a very unusual topic. The best way to make an impact on your reader is to have a confident, distinctive "voice". That means writing in a way that expresses your unique personality. Developing a distinctive "voice" is one of the most challenging aspects of writing for anyone, even experienced writers. The simplest advice for a very difficult challenge is to "be yourself".

3) Rich Detail
In almost every genre of writing, authentic details are interesting and abstract generalizations are boring. In the college admission essay genre, an ability to relate an incident or describe an individual in rich, authentic detail will make your essay stand out from the others, because the particular details of your life are unlike the particular details of anyone else's life. Similar to, but different. Focusing on specific details in essay will demonstrate your ability to think and write with acuity, another key skill that Admissions Officers are looking for.

Writing a college admission essay or personal statement that stands out from the rest is a significant challenge for the vast majority of students, and that is precisely why it is one of requirements of the application process. College and universities want students who will enrich the campus culture and community, and the college admission essay or personal statement is your chance to prove that you can do that. If you feel that you can write an essay that will improve your chances of being accepted, by all means, go ahead. If, however, you are unsure, you would be well-advised to work with a writing coach, as the quality of your college admission essay or personal statement can determine the success or failure of your application.

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