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What To Do When The Essay Is Optional...

Written By: Felicia Minor-Mewborn

WCC Co-Owner and Consultant

Always opt to write the college essay. The end. I wish explaining to high school seniors why college essays are so important was this easy. As a person who works in the education field with high school students, when I meet with my seniors to talk about the college application process, many of them decide to not write the college essay, when it is optional. Reasons that I hear from students for not writing optional essays are things such as, I don’t have time to write an essay, It’s a waste of time if it is not required, No one is going to read it anyways, or I am not a good writer. College essays allow students to tell their story while being able to showcase their writing ability. A good essay will not get a student into college alone, but it could help the college admissions committee better understand the applicant, capture the applicant’s personality, and reveal who the applicant is as an individual. Colleges will sometimes provide one topic for an applicant to write about, or they could provide many topics and let the applicant choose and colleges could also allow applicants to come up with their own topic. Whatever the situation may be for you or your student/child, here are some tips that can get someone started with crafting a college essay.

Tip #1 - Have a strong opening statement. You want to capture the attention of your reader.

Tip #2 - Follow the instructions for the essay that the college provides. If the essay needs

to be a specific topic or a certain length/amount of words, be sure to abide by the recommendation of the college.

Tip #3 - Write about something that is important to you and reflect on your experiences when writing your essay

Tip #4 - Your essay is not a place to list your academic accomplishments such as awards, grades or test scores.

Tip #5 - Does your essay reflect you? Ask yourself if your essay says everything that you want it to say about you.

Tip # 6 - Take your time and start your essay early.

Tip #7 - Proofread and have someone edit your essay before submitting it to colleges. You can ask a teacher, counselor, mentor/coach or a parent. Check to make sure that your essay is free of grammar and spelling errors.

Keep in mind that your college essay offers an opportunity to reveal important things about yourself that college admissions officers may not be aware of by just looking at grades and test scores.

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