The graduate admissions essay is probably the most challenging essay you’ve ever had to write so far. Most students bomb it, but you don’t have to. Just follow these three simple steps for creating the ultimate writing sample.
Step One: Brainstorm
It all starts with a good brainstorming session. These should essentially be a “stream of consciousness” that you will later edit. Think about your major accomplishments in life up to this point, what skills and abilities you possess that others are unlikely to have, how you developed these attributes, and what really separates you from other candidates.
You should be willing to include your favourite books, movies, works of art, and be able to explain how they influenced your life and shaped your ideas. College isn’t just about success. You also have to face failure with grace. Pick out an example of a major life goal that you did not achieve, and how you handled it.
Don’t leave your paper on a “down” note though. College is still (ultimately) about achievement, so include something that you have achieved that you’re proud of. What is your best virtue or character trait?
What community activities do you participate in? What are your dreams for the future? Your admission’s office will want to know these things to assess your compatibility and suitability for the college.
Step Two: Get Personal
Your essay will need to be about both you and the school. First, and foremost, you must demonstrate that you are an ideal candidate by showing that you’re responsible, intelligent, and worthy of attending the school. At the same time, it’s a good idea to try to work in a story about the school and why it’s important to you.
However, don’t gush over the accolades of the college. This is a time to be personal. So, for example, if you happen to know one of the professors, or you happen to respect his or her research, you might mention it and the fact that you’re excited to meet and work with particular person.
If you’re having trouble coming up with things to write about, an easy way to overcome writer’s block is to hire a research company like Ivory Research, which will research just about any topic you put in front of it.
Step Three: Focus On Answering The Question and Demonstrating Your Understanding
When you’re done brainstorming, it’s time to go back and edit your work. You should be able to weave a word tapestry that incorporates both abstract ideas as well as concrete examples.
So, if you’re talking about your best personality trait, you might openly tell the school that others have said your strongest personality trait or virtue is integrity. You might then go on to question that, subtly, before telling a story that demonstrates your integrity. In a sense, you play the part of the humble student and then use a concrete example (a story) to show, rather than tell, the school about how good you are.
The ebb and flow of the essay should follow a strict pattern – principles and abstraction followed by concrete examples. This is the winning formula for getting into the college of your dreams, and it’s something most admissions offices don’t see very often.
Jenny Wescott has worked as a researcher and online tutor for several years now. When she has the time, she enjoys sharing what she has learned with others by writing about it. You can read her helpful articles on various websites and blogs.