College admissions essays

You have an ace up your sleeve in the college admissions process: the essay.

Your essay can set you apart from other students with similar test scores and GPA.

Follow the easy essay writing process to make it happen.

The essay you write for your college application can make you stand out from the stacks and stacks of papers collecting dust on a college admission officer's desk.

Here are four tips on how to get through the essay writing process.

1. Be yourself: Stick to what you know.

Write in your own voice.

You can't fake the real thing.

The best writing is real writing.

You don't have to be a great writer to put compelling thoughts, your thoughts, on paper.

Relying too heavily on a thesaurus can make you sound artificial.

Use clear and vivid writing.

Here's a simple rule of thumb: If you had to look up the definition of a word in your essay don't use it.

2. Give yourself time.

Don't start thinking about what you are going to write three days before the essay is due.

Give yourself ample time to brainstorm a solid idea.

You may want to outline your essay before you write.

Write a draft, leave it alone for a few days and then return to your work.

3. Hook the reader.

Focus on the beginning of the essay.

Think how many times you stopped reading something after only a few paragraphs.

Busy college admissions officers have so much to read they may only spend a few minutes reading your essay.

Grab their attention in the beginning and try not to let up.

4. Proofread, proofread, proofread! They're/their/there.

You're/your.

Don't rely on spell check alone! Let teachers, parents and friends proof your college application essay.

You could be the second coming of Shakespeare, but most college officials won't waste their time with sloppy copy.

Following these tips will put you in the best position to write the best college admissions essay possible.

Stick with being yourself, don't panic, give yourself plenty of time.

Remember: This is merely the beginning of your college writing career.

Now, all you need is a topic.

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