What I learned from college application essays


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Melanie Buer

How great was your college application essay? Was it the slam-dunk, Harvard-worthy piece of prose that you hoped it would be? Or was it more like mine – hastily written and full of simple errors?

When I was just starting to apply for colleges, I didn’t place any importance on the entrance essay that many applications required. I was more focused on how well I did on the ACT, and set writing that essay down at the bottom of the list. As a result, the essays that I included with my applications were terribly written. They were rambling, hasty pieces of prose where the message I was trying to convey got lost in between all the proverbial “umms” and “you knows.” I didn’t get into my number one school and it’s in no small part due to my ridiculous entrance essay.

I learned a valuable lesson by botching my college application essay: waiting until the last minute to finish a paper that was important in any capacity was sure to produce some terrible work. This is particularly true now that I’ve moved into my final year at UNO. My major requires me to write well-researched, heavily edited academic papers on a regular basis. The topics can range from a simple observation on a text we read to inferences we drew from the language presented in a particular novel.

My fellow English majors can certainly attest to the fact that if we’re not prepared and we don’t put the work in, we’re certainly not going to get the grade we want. When faced with a large project that requires a lengthy paper at the end, it’s best to start early. Splitting up the project into manageable chunks isn’t just some vapid piece of advice thrown out by students’ parents. It’s a legitimate way to craft an A+ paper that doesn’t sound like total garbage when it’s read aloud.

Take a lesson from how you wrote your college application essay: start early, edit heavily and make sure the message is read loud and clear. I guarantee it’ll help.