College Admissions Essay Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks from Bates College

What’s the purpose of this essay?

– We place a premium on strong writing. We look for mastery of the mechanics of writing (grammar, syntax and organization) as well as fluency and originality.

Your essay reveals the caliber of your thinking and your readiness for a competitive liberal arts program.

Top Ten Tips for Writing the College Essay

1. Be yourself. Give us a window into your values and experiences. You know yourself best, so be honest.

2. Proofread your work! Misspelled words and grammatical errors don’t give a good first impression of your writing ability.

3. Stay focused. Don’t write a research paper. Write an essay with meaning, and tell us something about yourself that will help admission officers imagine how you might fit into the Bates community.

4. Grab our attention. Start with a great opener that catches the reader’s attention immediately. Make the admission officer want to read more about you.

5. Show us, don’t tell us. Use details to illustrate ideas and action words that bring your essay to life. Paint a picture that holds the reader’s attention.

6. Start now. Take time during the summer to begin brainstorming. Outline the framework of your essay. By the time the next school year begins, you should be almost finished.

7. Be original. We’ve seen plagiarized essays before, as well as the work of a parent, teacher or essay-writing professional. Don’t make that mistake.

8. Keep it simple. Don’t use words that sound overly sophisticated. Admission officers aren’t impressed by highfalutin language and vocabulary from the thesaurus. Tell us your story in your true voice.

9. Get feedback. Have a fresh pair of eyes give you some feedback. Don’t allow someone else to rewrite your essay, but do take advantage of others’ edits and opinions when they seem helpful.

10. Don’t stress out! Enjoy the process of reflecting on and writing about one aspect of your life that is meaningful to you. Know that most admission officers will enjoy reading your story.