Introduction:One paragraph that introduces your essay. Start with a catchy first sentence. If it grabs the reader’s attention, he or she will be encouraged to read on. You might use a meaningful quote or start with a rhetorical question that fits your situation. You might open with a detailed description of the setting of an important experience you've had so that readers feel they were really there. You might start with a mystery that will be revealed later in the essay or double-entendre. If you are experiencing writer’s block, skip this first sentence, and work on the rest of your essay. Explore your theme and brainstorm examples. Then, go back to the beginning and nail it.
Body: Several paragraphs explaining the main idea. Concentrate on content, use descriptive language, and give clear examples. Don't just recount–reflect! Anyone can write about how they won the big game or the time they spent in Rome or on a mission trip. When recalling these events, you need to give more than the play–by–play or itinerary or the trite “This experience changed my life forever”! Describe what you learned from the experience and how it changed you. Write as if you are talking to a friend, not like you are writing an essay for British Literature class.
Conclusion: Your conclusion should leave a lasting statement that reminds the reader of your essay’s key points. Reiterate the main themes of your essay, but say it in a different way than you did before. Make sure that you do not bring up new ideas in your conclusion.
This time use a more critical eye. Is the essay interesting and well organized? Does it give a good picture of who you are? If it isn't as interesting as you'd like, add more examples and details. Read your essay out loud to see if the essay flows. Make sure you're writing about yourself in your own voice--not the person you imagine the admissions counselor will find interesting. If at some point you read over your essay and you hear your mother's voice, something is wrong! Ask for input. Teachers, counselors, friends, parents, siblings – ask people you respect for some candid feedback. “What do you think I’m trying to say?” “Does it sound confusing?” “Is it boring?” “Do I come across well?” Other people can often tell if there isn't enough being revealed, whether the essay rambles, or if the humor is falling flat.
Rewrite Your Essay
Writing the essay the first time is hard enough, but taking time to write another draft is well worth the effort. Revise, rewrite, reword. Revision is the key to all good writing including college application essays. Read it aloud. Your ears can pick up problems that your eyes may miss.
Edit Your Final Draft
This time really look at the mechanics of the essay. Grammar, spelling, sentence structure, style, and tone all count. Double check everything so that nothing detracts from the finished product.