Here are 7 tips to making sure that your essay is everything that the Admissions Committee (AdCom) is looking for and more:
1. Make sure that you are actually responding to the essay prompt
This may sound obvious, but it is very easy to start writing and get lost in your own thoughts. Read through your essay several times and make sure that you are actually answering the question and not going off on an unrelated tangent. If you aren’t sure whether or not you have adequately answered the prompt, get a second opinion and have someone else read your essay. Ask him/her how well they think your essay is addressing the prompt. If they think that your essay is not really answering the prompt, then chances are AdCom won’t either.
2. Have your essay be detailed and specific.
It is important to be clear and specific when you write your essay. You can say that you hope to have a future in politics, or you can say what exactly you want to do, where, what committee and how you are going to get to this position. Being detailed and specific shows that you know what you are talking about, and that you are confidently conveying a clear, compelling vision. Being vague makes it seem as though you are making things up for the sake of the essay, and just filling up space.
3. Make it clear that you have done your research.
Make sure all of your facts are straight and that there is not any information that could be questioned as being false. Furthermore, show that you have done your research on the school. Talk about the specific classes that interest you, a professor whose book you loved or an extracurricular activity that you want to get involved with.
4. If you tell a story, make sure that you are telling a juicy story.
Not all essays give you the opportunity to tell a story, but the ones that do are golden. When you have the chance to tell a story, take it! Make sure that your story is engaging and captivates your reader. The way to make a story juicy is to include what you and other characters in the story thought, felt, said and did throughout the story.
5. Keep your essay within the word limit and not one word over.
You may be tempted to write more, but keep in mind that admissions committees have thousands of applications to sift through. Even though you feel that you absolutely must use 150 more words to really get your point across, you run the risk of seriously annoying your reader. There’s a word limit for a reason, and one important part of applying to grad school or college is the ability to read and follow directions.
6. At the same time, your essay should not be too short.
You want your essay to be no less than 15% under the word limit. You want to go to this school, right? That means that you should have plenty to say! This is your chance to show admissions committee members a little bit about what makes you special, so take advantage of it.
7. And of course, watch out for grammar and spelling.
Grammar and spelling mistakes distract the reader from the message you are trying to convey. Use spell check, carefully read your essay several times, and if permitted by your schools, have a trusted wordsmith friend edit it. Make sure your essays are polished, read well, and convince the admissions committee of your intelligence, curiosity, leadership, ambition, and vision.