The college application essay is a written statement written by a prospective student applying to a college or graduate school. The application essay is a common part of the university and college admissions process. For many students finishing their secondary education, the college application is the next step in their schooling career. With many students only learning the hard way that the college application is not just another school assignment, I believe that teachers need to spend more time teaching what makes a powerful narrative essay, and find resources to help direct students on how to write them. However, currently college applications are not taught in regular high school coursework.
Early preparation is important. Students can become better writers through regular practice. In the months (or even years) leading up to the college application process, students should take time to hone their writing skills, build their vocabulary, and get plenty of feedback from teachers. It is impossible to learn how to write a college application overnight. Prospective college students are faced with the challenge of summarizing their life up to that point into a page, all while showcasing their “unique” personality against other candidates.
There are several essay writing skills that can be taught in high school to ensure that candidates are equipped with the right skills to ace their essay. It may not be specifically how to write a college application, but with these basic skills, they are at least prepared to express themselves in a manner that gives them the best chance. These skills may include:
- Essay planning
Stringing points together in a cohesive flow is a key skill to have. It is important not to get into too much detail – writing keywords and phrases are the best solution. This can help the student focus on their strengths.
- Encouraging originality
Top competitive colleges are looking for originality and quality. The application essay is an opportunity to impress an admissions officer with their determination and knowledge of your chosen subject. It should reflect their skills and ambitions, and highlight how their chosen program will help them achieve future goals. Encouraging originality can be critical in helping the student’s essay stand out.
Proofreading is a critical skill that should be taught in high school. It is a form of quality assurance. Even minor mistakes in spelling or grammar may reduce the student’s chances of achieving a place in the college of their choice – given so many other candidates are vying for the same spot.
With these in mind, college application writing should be taught in high school. The steps to doing so are not far from what an established English language curriculum should teach – the key is in ensuring that students have the basic skills required to express themselves, and maintain the focus on their originality and the story they are trying to portray, rather than focusing on basic writing skills.
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