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Essay Writing Strategies - How to write a killer college essay

When you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a miner’s pick, a wood-carver’s gouge, a surgeon’s probe. You wield it, and it digs a path you follow. Soon you find yourself deep in new territory. Is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject? You will know tomorrow, or this time next year. — Annie Dillard, From The Writing Life. Harper and Row, 1989.

What you write now in your personal statements and essays will determine tomorrow. Don’t stop short of inspiring work. It could help open the door to your dream school.

What does the college want in your essay?

Assess your options for the essay question

Some colleges and universities provide specific questions to direct your essay writing. You may be asked to offer your views on a particular topic or issue. (“If you could change anything in the world, what would you change and how?” or “Describe an experience that changed you.”) Others leave the essay top…

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College and University Application Strategies - How to apply to the college of your dreams

Use the application as a chance to best present yourself on paper

Consider the Competition

If you’re an admissions officer, a typical day might look something like this: over your mug of morning coffee, you’re peering at a stack of hundreds—maybe thousands—of applications from all over the world. SATs, GPAs, and other acronyms are standards to consider in determining the strongest candidates. After the numbers are crunched, who will catch your eye and hold your interest? Sometimes even the straight A student/captain of the hockey team/organizer of a program at a homeless shelter won’t make the cut—unless, of course, he or she knows how to paint his or her own self-portrait in the most flattering light.

Approach the application as an opportunity

For the applicant, the application doesn’t have to be daunting—or a chore. Think of it as one of life’s rare opportunities to design your own image. Applying to college can really stress you out…

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