INDIA ABROAD August 11, 2017 18 CAMPUS AFFAIRS
he fall college applica-
tion season is about to
kick off and rising sen-
iors around the world
are pondering topics for
their personal state-
ments. They all want the same
thing — an essay that will help
land them in their dream univer-
The Common App essay
prompts, as well as the UC
prompts, for the 2017-2018 application cycle have now been published. All of my students will
have the final draft complete by
the time the fall semester starts.
If you are a student just getting
started, consider these five tips
for crafting a standout personal
This is your chance to
The essay makes you three-dimensional: it is more than a
few sheets of paper — it showcases your personality. It is your
chance to show the
awesome you are,
how you are one-of-a-kind, and how
lucky they would be
to have you at their
“regular” event in
your life can serve
as a great essay
topic. Often, students try hard to
think of monumental things that have
happened to them
and often get stuck on finding a
The essay topic does not need
to be monumental; it needs to be
The topic you select for your
personal statement should feel
easy to write about and expresses something truly special about
who you are.
The essay is not the time to be
modest. I am not saying you
should be boastful or arrogant,
but you should use your story to
highlight your best qualities.
Be unique; be memorable.
Keep in mind
that each admissions officer reads
essays for eight to
10 hours a day during application season.
That’s a lot. In
order for your submission to jump off
the page and into
the “admit” pile, it
must be memorable
and it must make
them feel something.
Strong introduction, strong
The opening paragraph must
grab the reader’s attention. It
must be riveting and leave them
wanting to read more.
There are different elements
to a strong opening; the “why”
ends the opening paragraph with
the reader wanting more. They
want to keep reading. Where is
this story going?
The “surprise” startles the
reader, but in a good way. Make
your reader sit up straight and
pay attention, make a statement
that will compel the admissions
officer to keep reading.
The “confession” reveals
something personal about yourself and lets you establish trust
with the reader. The reader
becomes your confidant.
The closing paragraph is the
second most important piece of
your essay, right behind the
opening paragraph. It must tie
Make reference to the opening
paragraph and the main idea of
Wrap it all together. Your
story reaches its climax: the solution to your personal struggle.
How did you cope? How did you
move forward? How did you
come out a stronger person as a
Make every word count.
The essay is a time to show,
not tell. Many students spell
things out in a blunt way in their
essays. Instead, use your story to
communicate the message you
want the admissions staff to
hear. Paint a picture with your
Be sure to use
action words and
descriptive words; dust
off the thesaurus if you need to.
“She walked through the woods”
is boring, when compared to
“she wandered through the verdant, sun-dappled forest.” All
those sentence structure lessons
from English class will come in
handy now — verbs and adjectives can bring your story to life.
On that note; also make sure
you’re certain of the meaning on
each word you use. There’s no
shame in using a dictionary
every now and then.
Use spell-check and
This sounds obvious and self-explanatory, but don’t underestimate this part. To an admissions
officer, few things will derail
your narrative faster than a page
rife with misspellings, poor
grammar and improper punctuation. To trained eyes, these typos
are “speed bumps” in your story.
They will undermine your credibility.
Admissions officers read hundreds, if not thousands, of applicant essays each year.
Typos are one quick way for a
submission to land in the rejection pile.
Make the appropriate effort
and demonstrate your respect to
the faculty of your prospect college by taking the time to proofread and edit your essay. The
admissions officers need to see
that you are taking this process
Kristen Moon is an independent college
counselor and founder of
MoonPrep.com. She specializes in Ivy
League, BS/MD Programs, and
with a Standout
By Kristen Moon
5 tips for students applying
to their dream schools
To land in
pile, pick an