According to a news release, education experts at the test-prep website Magoosh.com, based in Berkeley, Calif., suggest the following six tips:
1. Think small to win big
“You can’t sum up your entire life philosophy in 500 words, so don’t even try — pick a narrow enough topic that you can fully develop.”
2. Be you — not your weirdly mature alter-ego
“Write from the heart about something you actually care about. When you’re just saying what you think people want to hear, it shows.”
3. Don’t talk about the two D’s
“That means no death and divorce, along with other controversial topics. However, make sure your topic isn’t overused, either.”
4. Open with an anecdote — or a weird sentence
“You need to grab your admission officer’s attention before they get bored, so either start with a story that puts them in the middle of an interesting situation, or an attention-grabbing sentence you’ll go on to explain.”
5. Focus your essay around a story
“If you’re not sure how to cram all your thoughts into a logical structure, find an important moment in your life and tell the colleges about it, but make it entertaining.”
6. Channel Disney and end with a moral
“A story by itself means nothing — make sure you explain exactly what it means and how it has shaped your life.”
The Ledger-Enquirer asked why students shouldn’t write about death or divorce in their college application essays.
“Generally, it's better to avoid talking about death, divorce, illegal activities or controversial subjects,” Magoosh founder and CEO Bhavin Parikh said in an email. “Every now and then, there's a time and a place for these kinds of topics -- for example, explaining a sudden dip in your grades due to a death of a loved one -- but you should always consult with a college counselor before doing so. And if you do happen to have another, more positively oriented topic you can write about, many times we recommend going with that instead."