In this blog I am sharing with you the best college essay advice that I received when I was applying to colleges. Through this, you will be able to enhance your voice in your essays. The biggest secret to writing your college application essay is this: if someone else can steal your essay word for word, then it is a bad essay. This advice seems so simple, but when you actually put it into action, it is mind-blowing.
For example, I wrote some of my supplemental essays about my time volunteering with Special Olympics. Having grown up competitively swimming, I volunteered with the Special Olympics aquatics program. In my essays, I would talk about my time volunteering using phrases like “I really enjoyed volunteering with Special Olympics because I loved giving back to my community.” However, this sentence is terrible because anyone could copy this phrasing or this essay and use it as their own. Someone else could change out Special Olympics with some other volunteering example, a school club they are a part of, or even some other hobby and entirely use this essay as their own.
Obviously, people probably are not stealing your college essays because you are not posting your essay word for word online, but, the point I am trying to emphasize is still the same. If you have generic phrases like my Special Olympics example in your essays, you should think critically about how you can change these sentences to give them more voice, perspective, and pizzazz. College admissions officers read so many college application essays that boring wording about how you enjoyed volunteering because you loved giving back to your community is probably repeated in a majority of essays. If you have an essay like this, the admissions officers probably are not going to remember you. To stand out, you must have an essay that is not copy-able.
After learning this advice, I went back into my essays and combed through them line by line to see what I could edit and add in order to give my essays more voice. I changed my stale essay into something with more life. Instead of my previous copy-able sentences, I changed wording to things like "I am a coach and friend for my athletes, but my athletes are the ones coaching me: their persistence instills dedication within myself." Now this kind of sentence is not something that hundreds of students will be saying in their college essays. This sentence is unique to me and shows more about my time volunteering with Special Olympics than the previous sentence did.
Onge again I will repeat this advice: if someone else can steal your essay word for word, then it is a bad essay. Instill this within yourself and go back into your essays and ask yourself if this essay can be submitted by another student. If the answer is yes, then you have to go back and edit your essay.
Rachel is the founder of Study Hall College Consulting. Rachel graduated from UC Berkeley in the Class of 2020 where she double majored in Cognitive Science and Legal Studies. For more college application and essay tips, check out our Study Hall College Consulting website at: shcollegeconsulting.com.