***Scroll to the bottom for a special Christmas treat from me to YOU!***
If you've been hanging out with me for Wordsmith Wednesdays, you already know that I can go on and on and on about college essays.
It's the holiday season, and you're busy. I get it. You don't have time to weed through my opinions about reality TV. You want to get down to business. So here are bite-sized nuggets of information just for you. (If you want the long version, just click the links!)
1. Make sure you actually like your topic.
If you hate volunteering at the old folks' home, don't write about it just because it'll look good on an application. Your true feelings will show through. (Having trouble getting started? Check this out! And this!)
2. Tell an entertaining story. (Or tell an ordinary story in an entertaining way.)
We all have at least one friend who can tell a 20-minute story about opening an envelope. Don't be that friend. (Hint: details make the difference.)
3. Examine what the story says about you.
Your essay should demonstrate some positive qualities about you that aren't apparent elsewhere on your application. Maybe you're a caring friend, a school activist, or a championship juggler. Just make sure it's truthful and authentic.
4. Strike the right balance between conversational speech and formal writing.
Your essay should sound like the you that your friends know and love. It should be more relaxed than a school essay but not so relaxed that you would be embarrassed to have your teacher read it.
5. Write an intro hook.
Grab my attention right away. Make sure your opening sentence packs a punch and makes me curious to read on.
6. Your conclusion should make 'em beg for more.
Avoid generic wrap-ups. They're snoozy. Briefly--and I mean, briefly--reflect on where you've been, where you are, and where you're going. How will you apply the lessons you learned to your future?
7. Read your essay out loud.
It's an excellent way to catch run-on sentences and weak transitions.
8. Give your essay to two or three trusted readers.
Allow kind, supportive, honest people to read your essay. Ask them to provide constructive feedback. If you don't know that type of person, I'm always happy to help!
9. Trim the fat.
As you edit, delete any words, sentences, or phrases that don't move the story forward.
10. Check your grammar and spelling with a fine tooth comb.
Let it go.
If you've done all of the above, you've spent hours on your essay, and you're now obsessing over tiny details, chances are that it's time to hit send. Then go out and celebrate!
***Now for your special Christmas treat***
On Cyber Monday, I opened up my inbox for anyone having a grammar panic attack. I so enjoyed helping people that I'm going to keep the giving going!
I will be at your service every Monday in December. If you have a specific grammar question, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet me, or post it on my Facebook page, and I will provide an answer--free of charge!
This offer is limited to one question per person, but feel free to throw out a new question every Monday. I'm up for the challenge.
Merry Christmas, everyone!!!
Need extra help? Meet me in cyberspace!
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