College Application Essay Writing Tips #1 – How to ask for feedback

For the next few blog posts, I’ll be writing about the dreaded college application essay. Most students not only dread it, but actually fear it.

No, really. It’s worse than monsters under the bed even. How do you transform nothing into the most amazing story ever (and in 500 words or fewer)?

A blank piece of paper is scary.

Not everyone can afford to hire an essay tutor, so here are some things to think about.

Write (at least) two drafts before you show it to anyone. The first draft will never be your best work. Magical writing happens in revision.

Read your essay out loud. Trust me. This is an amazing (and very inexpensive) way to find inconsistencies, over-used words, and grammatical errors.

Have some one else read your essay. After they read it, ask them these questions:

  • Where in the essay did you stop or slow down reading?
  • Did you stop because you liked what you read and you wanted to read it again?
  • Or, did you stop because you were confused?
  • What do you remember most about my essay?
  • What did you like the least about my essay?
  • After reading this, what is one word you would use to describe me? (This will speak to the theme of your essay. Here you can see if what you were trying to get across is actually what the reader took away from your essay.)
  • Are there any questions that my essay made you wonder about but didn’t answer?
  • Did I fully address the question(s) in the prompt?

These questions will help you see the strengths and weaknesses in your essay. It’s important to remember that this is not a time to explain to the reader why things were or were not the way they seemed – after all you will not be sitting with the application reviewers as they read over your story. So this is an opportunity to reflect on what the reader’s take-away was and if that was your intention. This essay will have to stand on its own. This is a great way to find out what is coming across to the reader.

Then revise, revise, revise.

Happy Writing (and revising!)

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