College Application Short Essays: 5 Steps to Writing a Great One

College Application Short Essays: 5 Steps to Writing a Great One

The key: Be sincere, succinct, and specific.

When your college application requires a response limited to 100 words or fewer, you may think it requires little effort—but an admissions officer can immediately spot a half-hearted response in such a short piece. If you are seriously interested in admission to that college, take the time to write an essay that is sincere, succinct, and specific so it will strengthen your application. Here’s how.

Follow these 5 steps to writing a great short-answer or short essay response:

  1. Answer the question as directly as you can, in your own voice. Be thoughtful and sincere, but get right to the point.
  2. Forget about an introduction, a conclusion, or metaphors; jump right into your response.
  3. Use words that reveal your own feeling about the experience. Admission officers have likely heard similar stories before; it is your perspective that will make your story unique.
  4. Simplify language to reduce word count, especially if you’ve written too much, or if you are adapting a longer essay for the response.
  5. Be sure to include specific details, but stick to the details most relevant to the prompt and go deep on those. Be open to cutting entire passages, even some that you really like.

Remember that short essays are intended to help the admissions officers get a feel for the degree of your interest in the college and who you are. If you approach the question seriously and follow these 5 steps, your response will support a favorable reply to your application.

 

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