Tips for Writing an Effective Application Essay

Curry, Boykin, Emily Angel Baer, and Brian Kasbar. Essays That Worked for College Applications: 50 Essays That Helped Students Get into the Nation’s Top Colleges. New York: Ballantine Books, 2003.

2) An essay that is required as part of the application for colleges where you are applying.
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Achieving this new format and confirming that paragraph breaks make it to the final phase of your application is not completely intuitive. After pasting an essay into the Common App essay text box and adjusting for resulting formatting issues (of which there are many, as it seems Word and Google Docs formatting is not supported by the Common App program), a student must manually insert each paragraph break. These spaces will not be evident within the saved text box, and the final essay will appear much like the example of single-return formatting above. In order to confirm that paragraph line breaks have actually been added in the appropriate places, students need to view a PDF print preview of the essay, which is accessible only as part of the active submission process. What. A. Pain. Still, the tool is available to students, and we suggest they use it. The step-by-step process should go something like this:


Common Application 2013-2014 Essay Format Update

Application for 2016-2017 Optimist International Essay Contest Name PM F Address CityState/Province Zip/Postal Code
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1. Think small: When writing the Common Application essay, too many students feel compelled to try and squeeze their entire life story into 650 words. This, friends, is impossible. It is almost always better to think small first. Find a story or event in your life that really meant something to you. Did you win a competition at the last second? Was your family stranded on vacation with no power for five days? Have you read something recently that blew your mind? Now ask yourself- are any of these stories representative of my larger, most valuable qualities? The perfect essay topic showcases your personality, passions and/or ambitions without trying to do too much at once. Talking about your family’s adoption of a three-legged dog and how your pet’s perseverance and quirky attitude influenced the way you live your life, will make a better essay than a super general diatribe on why you like dogs, for example. If you find yourself getting lost while writing, ask: what am I trying to say about myself, and am I using a specific, compelling example to tell my story?