Halstrom Blog Post

6 Effective College Application Essay Tips

6 Effective College Application Essay Tips

At Halstrom Academy, we work on preparing our middle and high school students both academically and socially. We also believe in preparing our students for their lives beyond Halstrom so we offer college prep. In addition to receiving a world-class accredited education, students are given a variety of tools and resources to ensure they are well prepared for college and the workforce. 93% of Halstrom Students who apply to a 4-year college or university have been accepted. As a result, many graduates go on to attend prestigious colleges and universities across the country and abroad. For a complete list of college acceptances, click here.

College Essay Advisors (CEA) provides the following tips on their website for to use as guidelines for drafting the Common Application Essay.

1. Think small: When writing the essay, too many students feel compelled to try and squeeze their entire life story into 650 words.  It is almost always better to think small first. Find a story or event in your life that really meant something to you. 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.

2. Write first, edit later: Writing a compelling essay is a process, and the best writing can often be plucked from our stream-of-consciousness efforts. Don’t edit yourself before you allow your creativity to warm up and pour onto the page. Never judge your writing until you have a few paragraphs written down first. You can always cut what doesn’t work and it is much easier to work with an overabundance of words and ideas than nothing at all.

3. Kill those clichés: We’re content and grammar snobs, so we find clichés to be extra unappealing, but we also have enough confidence in your creativity to know that you can do better. Admissions essay readers know it too, and expect you to think out of the box without using phrases like “think out of the box.” So strike those tired sentences from your essay and do it now.

4. It’s all in the details: Many students have a tendency to skew generic in the telling of their personal stories.  What makes an essay memorable is often the sum of the little things. If you can paint a clear picture for your reader by providing details, you are much more likely to lodge a marker in their memories.

5. If Nothing Else, Entertain: You will need a compelling subject, a direct and powerful narrative, impeccable grammar and a memorable style. A little laughter never hurts either. It is often hard to know whether an essay is truly entertaining until the end stages of writing, but when you are reading over your drafts, the question should always be in the back of your mind: Is this essay fun to read? Some students achieve entertainment value by being controversial. Others load their pieces with comic relief. No matter what tactics you end up using, your goal should be effortless and compelling readability.

6. Brand yourself: In order for your essay to be truly effective, a reader should be able to summarize your subject in a simple sentence. You accomplish this self-branding by choosing a creative topic (or a creative twist on a common topic), and writing about it with enough detail to burn an image of yourself in the reader’s brain. Focus your story. When you finish writing your first draft, do a branding test- try to label yourself based on your essay and see what you come up with. If you can’t easily narrow it down to a punchy description, you probably need to alter or simplify your essay.

Halstrom Academy’s College Counseling program is included as part of full-time student enrollment and is also offered to part-time students. During these sessions, our College Readiness Counselors walk students and families through the entire pre-college process including applications, scholarship assistance, course selection, career development, and extracurricular opportunity references.

For more information on how we can help guide your path to college, click here.