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Writing the College Essay

Monday, August 07, 2017

For the majority of high school students, writing college essays feels like a bit of a curse when in fact it truly presents a potential blessing-in-disguise. Why a blessing? Because the kind of writing that the admissions essay calls for,  an engaging story that broadly invites students to portray who they are and how they tick, has the potential to bring the student "to life" in what often seems like an impersonal selection process. 

If I may offer up a basic recipe for writing success, it starts with the writer choosing a topic they individually relate to.  

Picking a good story is essential -- one that the writer is energized or moved to share. Engaging essays convey a sense of individual values or personal passion about a particular interest or a unique approach to a challenge -- almost any of wide-range of possible stories that convey a strong sense of the student.  Add a scoop of personality, a dash of character, tossed with a sprinkle of personal insight, and seniors will have the winning ingredients for writing success.

It's also helpful to consider what to avoid in effective writing.  A recent article in The New York Times hits the nail on the head (oops, overused expression!), adding more when it comes to approaches writers need steer clear of.


Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and can be reached via

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