Bizarre 2020 College Admissions

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Written By Tanishk Gambhir

Through the bizarre circumstances of 2020, the world has fundamentally changed. This change has carried over—significantly—to the college admissions process. 

As more and more universities trend towards making standardized tests optional, a greater emphasis in college admissions will be placed on other aspects of a student’s application – such as the essays. These essays have always been a critical factor in determining an applicant’s admissions success; however, this cycle, the importance has amplified. 

Therefore, we’ve gathered the three highest-yield writing tips to help you write your way into the college of your dreams!

1. The Hook 

As you begin watching any TV show or movie, you might notice the eye-grabbing scenery or the drastic actions a character takes. This might seem confusing at first since the story is starting without an initial explanation. 

Yet, you’ll continue watching since you want to figure out the situation and what exactly is going on. This is no different than the hook, which is the very first sentence of an essay used to captivate the reader immediately. If you can hook the reader into the story within just a couple of words of your essay, then you’ve made a good first impression. Go big or go home to edit your essay and add that attention-grabbing sentence to kick your essay off in the right direction.

What are some tried-and-true hooks? Begin your essay mid-action, in a narrative moment, or try your hand at jumping straight to the point with a handful of declarative sentences.

2. Show, Not Tell

College application essays are supposed to convey meaningful information about an applicant, especially details that might not be so apparent in other parts of the application. Your personality, character traits, and overall demeanor thus need to appear between the lines of your essay. 

While this is not an easy task, many people resort to being very direct. What better way to tell the admissions committee about one of your traits then by directly staying it? 

However, this is the wrong way to go about it. Anyone can directly state that they are hardworking or smart. You need to show, not tell them. For example, rather than saying that you are hardworking, talk about a task or experience where you put in extensive hours. Your hardworking quality will show through your actions and the admissions committees are smart enough to read between the lines. Be subtle, not direct, when talking about yourself.

3. Coming Full Circle

Just as your first sentence is the reader’s initial impression, the last sentence of your essay will be the final impression you leave on the admissions committee. Many students struggle with finding a high-quality method of ending their essay. While there are hundreds of ways to do so, a strategy that works well and is not commonly used is to bring the essay full circle. 

This means incorporating information with your ending that was included in your beginning (hook) as well. By bringing the content to the original starting position, your essay, just like life, will come full circle. This is also known as a circular ending and can serve as a way to neatly wrap up your story. For example, if you talked about a treasured possession at the beginning of your essay, briefly mentioning it towards the end can provide that effect of bringing your story full circle.  

While there are many other methods of determining a student’s readiness for college in a holistic application process, the essays are unique as they serve as the only manner in which an applicant can truly express themselves subjectively. The best part about writing a good essay is that there is no prerequisite. One does not need to have perfect grades or a lengthy resume in order to write something memorable. Use this fact to your advantage and go out and write your way into college. (See what I did there? Full circle!) 

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