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The College Application Essay and The Art of Self-Promotion

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As you begin the application process, you will find that there are many steps to be taken in order to be a convincing candidate for acceptance, and it is not just based on merit. College and university admissions want to be sure that the person they are selecting to be apart of their school is a worthy student on both an academic and character level, which is why the college application essay is a fundamental part of the process. Many students who proved themselves to be academically deserving of acceptance fail because of their lowly attempt to woo the admissions office based on a poorly crafted essay.

Colleges base their decisions heavily upon a well-constructed essay. These essays are an immediate illuminator to who the student is personally. It is very important for schools and universities to maintain a standard of the quality of people they accept, and most often, these essays are the tool in which the standard is measured.


To begin with, college essays should be looked upon as a means of self-promotion, your way to “sell yourself” to the school you are applying for. To some people, self-promotion is a difficult thing. It may be much easier to describe the achievements and qualities of another than to shift focuses upon yourself.

The best way to begin is to have the mindset that you are simply communicating your character and personal quality, not necessarily your achievements in list form. (There will be other outlets to list them, and you want to be careful not to sound too arrogant.)

Find Your Identity

Webster describes identity as “the distinguishing character or personality of an individual.” Each person living today has experienced or found passion for something or someone. Each one of us, being completely unique and individual, required some sort of determining factor that would dictate the quality of our personalities, thus establishing our identity. For example, people from war-torn lands may have a characteristic of fear. Events that have taken place in their lives have dictated the outcome of their personality. This is the same for people with religious beliefs, political beliefs, or identities found in the influences of other people or acquired passions, etc.

When searching out the theme for your personal essay, first search within yourself to find your identity, why or what makes up who you are. This will allow the reader to experience a more thoughtful narrative of who you are from deep within and not bore them with tedious surface stuff that they will find out in other areas of your application.

Grammar, Grammar, Grammar

Poor gramar can tell alot about a person’s intellect and abilities its distracting from the reader to has to read through errors and will take away from the content you hope there soaking in.

Are you wondering about all the errors in the previous paragraph? This is a small, slightly exaggerated example to demonstrate how distracting poor grammatical matters can be. There is an endless amount of resources available to anyone who is planning on writing a college application essay, many of which are specific on grammar, formatting and basic writing skills. How horrible would it be to have spent so much time and care writing about your life and your character for your paper to only end up in the rejection pile due to poor grammar!

Be Personable, Communicate

As I mentioned before, take this opportunity to simply communicate to the people who are determining your fate at the school you are applying to the details of your life. Be personable. Show a lighter side, maybe a little wit. Trying to impress these people with a litany of large words and a mechanical or boring tone will also land your essay into the rejection pile.

Admission officers want to see that the students they are accepting are good, quality people and are apt to communicate effectively, thoughtfully and creatively.

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