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This is from Eva Ostrum, former Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Yale University (in an interview in “50 Successful Ivy League Application Essays”): “The essays that grab me give me some kind of hook in the beginning to reel me in.” That hook gets the readers to willingly follow your story from beginning to end instead of getting dragged along behind you out of a sense of obligation to read your entire essay, which — if they’re doing it solely out of a sense of obligation — they might well not do.
We’ve provided you with neither a precise list of ingredients — which should consist mainly your own unique, personal stories that reveal who you are — nor directions on how to cook (though adding dollops, pinches, and smidgeons of characteristics that admissions officers find delectable in well-prepared applicants is advisable, and we’re more than passably good at helping applicants accomplish that).
Further, there’s nothing necessarily easy about coming up with an effective opening hook, presenting oneself in a creative way, knowing the “what” and “when” of adding those delectable characteristics, and then serving a delicious closing that ties it all together in a way that makes the reader/diner sit back, smile, and say “Ah.” However, we’re going to be covering some of those topics in our articles and blogs, and, if you’re already working on a personal statement or are about to begin to do it and want or need help now, we’re really good at it, so reach out to us and ask for help.
Proofread the essay for typos and grammatical errors.
Read the essay out loud to yourself and to someone else.
Write the body of the paper in one to three paragraphs.
Prove the main idea from the first paragraph through examples.
The last prompt for each of the Common and Coalition Applications is “topic of your choice,” which should make it abundantly clear that the topic you choose to write about – the framework around which you’ll build your essay – doesn’t matter at all: As we pointed out in a blog titled Clearing Up Confusion About the College Application Personal Statement, content – what you put inside the framework of your topic – is all that matters, and what’s critical about that content is that it be about you.
Along with what you say, how you say it matters a great deal, so both of those things should be driven by clear objectives, two of which we’re going to share with you in this article.
Bluestone’s “respectable” – but otherwise unremarkable – application in the “Admit” box.
So, here are the two important lessons to be learned: First, an effective essay hooks the readers immediately and makes them want to read the rest of the essay.