The mounds of advice available to ‘help’ you write your college essay(s) could fill the thickest book you can imagine. We don’t want to add to that tome, but wish to highlight a few points that we feel are critical.

    1. The first thing to remember is that the essay is only one part of your application. Your grades, activities, test results and recommendations are all given consideration in conjunction with your essay(s).
    2. Admissions committees use essays to a) learn more about you, b) determine how well you can express yourself, and develop a sense of how clearly you can support your initial thesis.
    3. It’s a big mistake to try to portray yourself as someone you think the college wants. Sophisticated admissions officers can read through this attempt to impress them and these efforts can be harmful to your candidacy.
    4. One of the best ways to begin the process of writing is to ask yourself what you would like the admissions committee to know about you. It’s important to add to what is already evident on the application - repeating a list of your activities won’t provide any new information about you.
    5. A great suggestion is to “tell a story only you can tell.” Use the names of the people and specific locations you are writing about (e.g. ‘Aunt Flora’ as opposed to ‘my aunt.’)
    6. It’s also important to use examples and be as specific as possible – show, don’t tell.
    7. Have a second and third set of eyes read your essay before it’s finalized. As a rule, we don’t recommend parents since many have a tendency to edit and rewrite in ways that mute the student voice. An English teacher, the Writing Center, and select school counselors here at NCHS can all be very helpful. Don’t hesitate to ask.

    Finally, in exploring what help might be available online, here’s a terrific site for all kinds of essay help, from topics to avoid to editing to “How to land in the ‘yes’ pile.” (We are only recommending the information, not suggesting you hire a consultant.) http://essayhell.com