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Articles / Applying to College / How can I write a convincing admissions essay?

Feb. 11, 2002

How can I write a convincing admissions essay?

Question: How can I write a convincing college application essay?

You may not have to write one. Quite a few college applications either require no essay or they make it optional.


However, if you are working on an application that is asking you for an essay (sometimes called a personal statement) or you anticipate that you'll have to deal with one later, there are some basics you should keep in mind.

First of all, most essay topics are so broad and unrestrictive that you can work almost any kind of information into them. This fact works in your favor when you're dealing with several applications requiring essays. Once you have written a good one, you can--in most cases--adapt it to fit other essay questions.

Let me give you a tip on a book that will set you straight on writing application essays. Go to the library and find Harry Bauld's

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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