The college essay is a very important part of the application process. Presenting an essay that stands out depends on the formatting and content. The format should cause the contents to flow and offer the reader insight to your goals and aspirations. Yale University gives helpful advice to potential students on the admission essay: "If you sound like yourself and discuss something you care about, your essay will be more effective."
Choose a topic that you can discuss with authority and passion. Some ideas are personal achievements, personal or national issues that affect you, a character in history or in fiction that inspired you or a person who has made an impact on your life.
Use black ink in a 10- or 12-point font. Use a standard font -- no italic or script. Number pages on white paper and use a half-inch header and five-space indent. Type double-spaced and include a title plus your name, address and phone number in the upper left-hand corner. Limit your essay to the exact word count the college requires.
Include the main idea in the first paragraph. How you present your main idea depends on the topic you choose. Write the essay in the first-person. Make it interesting -- imagine the committee is tired and your essay is the last of 50 reviewed.
Write the body of the paper in one to three paragraphs. Prove the main idea from the first paragraph through examples. For instance, if you choose to discuss a political issue give pros and cons about the issue and then follow through with those arguments.
Use the last paragraph to summarize the essay. Choose the essay's highlights and express them in a way that brings the essay to a satisfying close. Do not repeat what you have already said just for the sake of drawing a conclusion.
Proofread the essay for typos and grammatical errors. Read the essay out loud to yourself and to someone else. Run the spelling and grammar checks from your word processing program.
Print the essay and proofread it several times, resting in between reads.
- Follow the college's instructions precisely. Do not write over the word limit.
Vickie Van Antwerp began her career as a technical writer for a consulting firm in 1987. Now a freelance writer in her fields of interest, her writings appear on southjersey.com, youandmemagazine.com and in "The Phelps Connection" and "The Storyteller." Van Antwerp holds an Associate of Arts in liberal arts from Gloucester County College and certification as a surgical technologist from Lenoir College.