How to Write a Winning Essay

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I'm kidding, of course, since no one can tell you how to write such a thing. In fact, you should not imagine that your essay, by itself, will blow open the doors to the college of your choice. Nevertheless, it is an important part of your application and, perhaps, the most important piece of writing you will ever create. So here are a few words about how to construct the best essay that you can.

Your written work so far has, for the most part, been confined to school assignments. You have addressed subjects that may or may not have been of interest to you and your audience has consisted of the teachers who assigned the topics. So you have never had to confront the question that writers in the real world must ask themselves constantly: Who wants to read this stuff? or, more precisely, Who would PAY to read this stuff? Once you face this question, the rules begin to change. You are no longer guaranteed readership, and whatever you write must compete for space with the writings of many other people.

I assume you can see the analogy to the college essay. Here also you have readers, college admissions officers, who read dozens of essays a week. If your effort is to make an impression it must be different in some way (one hopes favorably) to get the attention that will enhance your chances of admission.

College application essay topics fall into three categories: Broad "tell us about yourself" questions.
More specific "tell us about yourself" questions that involve a favorite book, a beloved teacher, a significant experience, a life goal. Creative questions: "You have just completed your 300 page autobiography. Please submit page 217."

Regardless of how the question is phrased it...
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