Organize college essay

The 5-paragraph essay usually does not provide this. Essays like this are usually too short for a reader to require an ending summary; therefore, these essays can become boring, maybe even insulting. It soon becomes clear to your reader that you may not have enough ideas to get your point across. Contrary to popular belief, there is no rule that says any kind of essay should be any number of paragraphs!

Did you know your essay makes up 25% of your college application?

Paragraphs Perform 2 Functions. To help the reader understand the text by organizing words and thoughts into understandable and related chunks of information. Introduction: This is like a signpost at the beginning of your essay. Then Alex writes her introduction. But instead of beginning with a general statement about civil wars, she gives us the ideas we need to know in order to understand all the parts of her argument:. Now Alex turns to organization. Note that Alex now has four body paragraphs. Finally, having followed her sketch outline and written her paper, Alex turns to writing a conclusion.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where somebody expects you to make sense of a large body of information on the spot and write a well-organized, persuasive essay—in fifty minutes or less? Sounds like an essay exam situation, right? When time is short and the pressure is on, falling back on the good old five-paragraph essay can save you time and give you confidence. A five-paragraph essay might also work as the framework for a short speech. We consulted these works while writing the original version of this handout.

Overview of the Common App

Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial. We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback. Blue, Tina. Make sure that context and logic are inherent in your essay, however.

From paragraph to paragraph, sentence to sentence, your ideas should be clear and flow naturally. Great ways to ensure this are using a story arc following a few major points, or focusing on cause and effect. Your Common App essay must display excellent writing in terms of grammar and sentence structure.


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I found an empty table and ate my lunch alone. In many cases, writing can include more specific word choice. This section provides insights and examples for each of the 7 Common App essay prompts for the cycle. Each of these prompts lends itself to distinct topics and strategies, so selecting the prompt that best aligns with your idea is essential to writing an effective Common App essay. This prompt offers an opportunity to engage with your favorite extracurricular or academic subject, and it allows you to weave a narrative that displays personal growth in that area. An essay that displays your personality and a unique interest can be attention-grabbing, particularly if you have an unconventional passion, such as blogging about Chinese basketball or unicycling.

Instead of attempting to impress the Admissions Officer by making up unusual or shocking things, think about how you spend your free time and ask yourself why you spend it that way. You can discuss the experience of growing up, interacting with family, and how relationships have molded who you are. A background can include long-term interactions with arts, music, sciences, sports, writing, and many other learned skills. In addition, you can highlight intersections between multiple backgrounds and show how each is integral to you.

One of our consultants wrote about how growing up in a poor Vietnamese immigrant family inspired her to seize big opportunities, even if they were risky or challenging. She describes the emotional demand of opening and running a family grocery store.


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Note: all of the following essay excerpts have been shortened and edited for this post. Names have also been changed to protect the identity of the author and subjects. My parents took the chance, risking all of their savings. On the first day, the business brought in only twenty dollars. Twenty dollars. My mother and my father wept after they closed the shop.

Seeing the business as a failure, my mom commenced her packing that night; returning to Vietnam seemed inevitable. The next business day, however, sales increased ten-fold. More and more customers came each successive day. My mother unpacked a bag each night. Fifteen years later, my parents now own Blue Ravine Grocery. My parents work, work, work to keep the shelves stocked and the customers coming. The grocery store holds a special place in my heart: it is the catalyst for my success. So when the opportunity to attend the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science presented itself, I took it and ran, as did my parents by leaving Vietnam and by buying the store.

Although the opportunities that my parents and I pursued are different, our journey is essentially the same: we walk a road paved with uncertainty and doubt with the prospect of success fortified by our hearts and our hands. However, reflecting on how your culture has shaped your experiences can make for a compelling essay. Alternatively, focusing on a dominant personality trait can also make for a compelling theme. One important thing to note: the topic of identity can easily lack originality if you cover a common experience such as feeling divided between cultures, or coming out.

If such experiences are integral to who you are, you should still write about them, but be sure to show us your unique introspection and reflection. One of our consultants detailed how growing up as an American in Germany led to feelings of displacement. Moving to America in high school only exacerbated her feelings of rootlessness. Helping a young refugee girl settle into the US eventually helped the writer find home in America as well:. After moving from Berlin to New York at age fifteen, my feelings of cultural homelessness thrived in my new environment.

College Writing

Americans confused me as I relied on Urban Dictionary to understand my peers, the Pledge of Allegiance seemed nationalistic, and the only thing familiar about Fahrenheit was the German after whom it was named. In between games and snacks, Laya would ask me questions about American life, touching on everything from Halloween to President Obama.


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  5. Gradually, my confidence in my American identity grew as I recognized my ability to answer most of her questions. Together, we worked through conflicting allegiances, homesickness, and stretched belonging. Forging a special, personal bond with young refugees proved a cathartic outlet for my insecurities as it taught me to value my past.

    10 tips for college application essays

    My transculturalism allowed me to help young refugees integrate into American life, and, in doing so, I was able to adjust myself. Interests — Interest are basically synonymous to activities, but slightly broader you could say that interests encompass activities ; participation in an interest is often less organized than in an activity.

    How to Write a Winning College Application Essay

    For instance, you might consider cross country an activity, but cooking an interest. Writing about an interest is a way to highlight passions that may not come across in the rest of your application. You should also feel free to use this topic to show what an important activity on your application really means to you. Read a successful essay answering this prompt. This prompt lends itself to consideration of what facets of your personality allow you to overcome adversity. There are times in life when your foundation is uprooted.

    For example, if you lost a friend due to an argument, you can analyze the positions from both sides, evaluate your decisions, and identify why you were wrong. The key is explaining your thought process and growth following the event to highlight how your thinking has changed.

    Did you ever admit your fault and seek to fix the problem? Have you treated others differently since then? How has the setback changed the way you view arguments and fights now?

    SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

    Framing the prompt in this way allows you to tackle heavier questions about ethics and demonstrate your self-awareness. For example, if you used to stutter or get nervous in large social groups, you could discuss the steps you took to find a solution. To my shame, I had been appallingly ignorant of his pain. When my parents learned about The Smith Academy, we hoped it would be an opportunity for me to find not only an academically challenging environment, but also a community.

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    This meant transferring the family. And while there was concern about Sam, we all believed that given his sociable nature, moving would be far less impactful on him than staying put might be on me. But preoccupied with new friends and a rigorous course load, I failed to notice that the tables had turned. Sam had become withdrawn and lonely. While I saw myself as genuinely compassionate, I had been oblivious to the heartache of the person closest to me. We stayed up half the night talking.

    He told me how challenging school had always been for him, due to his dyslexia, and that the ever-present comparison to me had only deepened his pain.