Tag Archives: how to improve college application essay

Five Ways to Bump Up a Dull Essay

28 Dec

So you have a rough draft for one of your college essays. You answered the prompt, read it many times and believe it’s a solid piece of writing. And you may be right. But even a solid essay can have one fatal flaw–it’s boring. The last thing you want is for the admissions person to toss your well-written essay in the “read later” pile. Here are a couple tips on how to bump it up:

1: Your introduction is the most important part of the essay, since it will either grab the reader or not. Often, writers start by providing background on their topic and then get to the good stuff. Try to take out the first sentence, or two, and see if you can start farther into your story. You might have to rewrite it a bit, but often you just don’t need that general background right at the beginning. It’s best to switch it up and get right to your best example or point, and then provide the background later. If you can start with your most interesting examples or points, you will grab your reader all the faster, and that’s exactly what you want.

EXAMPLE: “When I was in high school, I played the violin in the school band. It was my favorite activity and I never missed a practice or performance. But one day, to my horror, I left my thousand-dollar violin on the school bus…” You are building up to something exciting here. Try to start right at the heart of the action, the moment you left the violin and your reaction: “As I stepped off the bus, I had the vague feeling I was missing something. But I was late for my orthodontist appointment, and ran to meet my friends. It was only later that night that it hit me: I left my thousand-dollar violin under the seat.” (And then you can go on to background your history playing the violin, etc.)

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