The Final College Essay Checklist: Taste The Sweet Victory
REJOICE! FESTIVE PASTRY SEASON IS UPON US! Look at these adorable snowflake cookies! Look at this gigantic seasonal croquembouche! Nothing tastes sweeter than a puffy profiterole plucked from a perfectly engineered pastry tower. Nothing, that is, aside from the sweet taste of knowing that the college essays you have toiled over are finally done – ready to be served to admissions officers around the world.
Like cream puffs, college essays require a balance of science and artistry. A prompt helps you lay out the basic ingredients, but it’s up to you to combine them into a winning confection – and experimental cooking doesn’t happen overnight! To cook up an amazing essay, you have to taste and tweak and maybe even throw out a bad batch and try again. To make sure your masterpiece is up to par, we’ve made you a list of the final checks you should perform before sending your essays out of the kitchen and into the world.
Does it answer the question? This may seem basic, but it is very easy to get wrapped up in the story you want to tell and completely forget to answer the question. We’ve seen in happen a million times. Of course, it’s not always easy to figure out exactly what a question is asking, and even seemingly straightforward questions may be probing for deeper reflection than you would expect. To ensure that you’ve nailed the question, check out our guides on the Common App and supplementalessays.
Is this the right topic for me? The essay is your best (and only!) opportunity to talk to admissions in your own voice, but it also needs to work in harmony with the rest of your application. Perform these final topic checks to make sure you are putting your best foot forward.
Is my story a cliché? Perhaps the greatest sin a college applicant can commit – aside from not answering the question – is to rely on the sentimental clichés that have haunted admissions officers for decades. Refer to our primer on clichés to weed them out of your writing.
How’s my grammar? No matter how brilliant the essay, some basic spelling and grammar mistakes are unforgivable. Scan your essay for these common mistakes and GET RID OF THEM before you hit submit.