Just beginning to write your essay? No worries! We've created and compiled an extensive list of do's and don'ts of your first draft. Follow these simple tips, and you will have an annihilated essay in no time.
First Draft Do's & Don'ts
Do answer the prompt's ultimate question, maintain focus and illustratively claim and support your viewpoint.
Do keep your focus narrow: With your topic, there is still a possibility that there is a breadth of possible information to write about. You should stray from doing so, as admissions counselors highly dislike seeing a student who talks about several unrelated and unneeded topics. In doing so, you may simply be repeating your extracurricular list and your overall application. Figure out how you can creatively attack the prompt, while giving your personal statement a focus on your personal qualities and attributes.
Do provide examples, anecdotes and details that directly relate to your overall topic while answering the prompt, but in doing so, focus on a special overarching attribute of yourself that makes your life story unique. For example, if you want an admissions counselor to learn about your love for politics and history, then a well suited anecdote to write about would be interning for the mayor of your city and how that helped you to pave your way in political realm of society. Writing about how riding a horse helped to shape who you are, however, strays from the topic.
Do appeal to the five senses. Simply do not state facts about yourself throughout the essay; rather illustrate these facts about yourself through clever placement and use of examples and anecdotes as well as syntax structure. Using details as "the warm, ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookies" instead of "the hot cookies" appeals much more to the reader.
Do be true to yourself while writing. Use your own voice and style of writing because that is who the admissions counselor wants to see! Keep in mind to write in your own voice as you would speak as, as well as illustrate who you are in a humble, cordial way.
Do be creative, quirky and entertaining. Get all your creative juices flowing and write an essay that avoids boringness and cliches.
Don't stray from the prompt's ultimate objective. In doing so, you may jeapordize your admissions because of an appeared inability to follow directions.
Don't try to cover a million varying topics to write about when answering the prompt. Stick with the original idea, if still plausible, and use relevant ideas, examples, anecdotes and details to help you support your ultimate answer. Avoid deviating from the main topic you are trying to write about by writing about such activities, anecdotes and details that stray from your ultimate topic and the prompt. If you do, admissions counselors may simply believe that you are repeating your extracurricular list, and you are not able to create deep, meaningful thoughts about your story.
Don't provide personal anecdotes and examples that do not give a new reflection about who you are and your life's value, purpose and story. For example, if you are writing about how you learned to be responsible on a mission trip to Haiti, then an anecdote about how learning to walk may not fit well.
Don't simply blurt a fact out. This will make you seem as unable to write about the complexity of your life with passion, and will furthermore make you seem as dull and banal. Rather, use vivid details, imagery, examples and ideas to create a picture of who you are.
Don't use excessive SAT vocabulary words to make you seem smart. In most cases, this will cause a red flag to admissions counselors because one, they believe you are simply trying to show off and, two, an adult may have significantly altered your personal statement.
Don't be boring. Be unique. Avoid the cliches and such in order to ensure that you show the admissions counselors who you truly are. Don't write a generic essay - admissions counselors will see thousands of these. Instead, be a bit daring or controversial, and take a unique perspective, point of view, style of writing or angle - this way, you will stand out at the very least.
For more essay writing tips, check out TCE's exhaustive writing guide found under the resources section!