What are admissions officers looking for in college essays?

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Students often worry that they don’t have a compelling story to tell in their college essay. If they haven’t had big dramatic moments in their lives, what can they write about that’s interesting?

Not to worry! You don’t need to have a life-altering story to share. In fact, most admissions officers aren’t looking to be impressed by your hike up Mount Everest or some other over-the-top experience. They’re looking for essays that reveal something about you. Sometimes it’s actually an everyday experience that sheds light on your personal voice.

Writing about yourself may take some getting used to. Here are a few ways to help you get started:

• Read great sample essays as inspiration. Ask your high school counselor or search online for great college application essays. You don’t want to mimic someone else’s style. That will absolutely backfire! Just read them to get a sense of how it’s done.
• Don’t go it alone. There are lots of education experts and admissions counselors who are happy to share tips on how to write an exceptional essay.
• Practice. The more you write, the better you’ll get at it. Ask a teacher or high school counselor for objective advice on ways to improve your writing skills. Some students also work with writing tutors to improve their skills.
• Be yourself! Don’t let a parent or other person rewrite your essay for you. Trust us, admissions officers can tell!
• Try different topics. Some universities give you an option to choose among different essay topics. Write practice essays on a few different topics and see which one feels right to you.