Writing college essays is very different from most of the writing you do in high school. Your audience isn’t a teacher, and you are the subject of your essay.

These seven secrets will help guide you to an effective essay:

  • Grab attention, keep attention. Your essay should engage the reader from the first line, and never let go.
  • Show, don’t tell. Saying that you’re confident (persistent, friendly, tall, etc.) usually isn’t believable. Your actions, thoughts and writing style can reveal who you are.
  • Tell a story. This isn’t a school paper. Entertain and engage.
  • No selling. It’s obnoxious. Let your recommendations do that.
  • Make it yours. Write in your natural voice and allow your personality and perspective to come through.
  • Take your time. There’s no Wikipedia article about who you are. You have a lot of pondering, writing and revising to come to a polished essay.
  • Get great feedback. Keep checking in with people as you come up with your topic, write rough drafts, and craft a polished essay.

You’ll know you’re there when people who know you well can say “hey, this sounds like you, and I really see your personality and strengths in this.”

And a special bonus secret: Have fun! This is a lot of work, but it can be a meaningful experience where you grow, learn, and produce something you can be proud of.

Photo by London Scout on Unsplash