Together they have more than 90 years experience reading, and judging college essays: John Mahoney, director of undergraduate admissions at Boston College, Jennifer Desjarlais, dean of admission and financial aid at Wellesley College, and Gail Berson, vice president and dean of admissions at Wheaton College.
The following is a list of do's and doníts taken from what all three of the admissions professionals had to say about the things that make a great college essay.
1. Tell a story about yourself that will give the admissions office a sense of who you are.
2. Keep it simple, and keep it short. There is no need to write a novel, and admissions people read thousands of essays,
3. Write it yourself.
4. Use your own voice. This is not the time to experiment with styles you never use - so writing in rhyme, using humor, or satire can be very difficult, and are probably not the best way to go.
5. Throw away the Thesaurus. Using big words doesnít mean youíre smart. Use words you actually use in real life.
6. Donít write about the Human Genome Project. Choose something you really know about. Admissions people want to learn something about you.
7. While itís tempting to write about a hero, be careful. Sometimes you end up telling all about the hero, and nothing about yourself.
8. Donít make simple mistakes. Typos, misspelled words, and grammar mistakes really do matter.
9. Boastful doesnít mean smart.
10. You donít need to have had adversity in your life to write a compelling essay.
11. You donít need a big accomplishment to write about in your essay to impress the admissions office.
12.Small details added to the essay can be the most revealing.
13. Donít sit down to write the night before the essay is due. It doesnít have to be a Pulitzer Prize winner, but it does have to be thoughtful.
14. Start looking at the questions well in advance. Thoughtfully answering the ďwhyĒ or ďhowĒ of the questions is the most important.
15. Donít over-worry it.
Ellen Ishkanian can be reached at email@example.com.