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The East Wheelock House Professor's house during fall term!

Everybody knows that essays are a huge part of the college application process—many websites, friends, and college counsellors will tell you it's your "make-or-break" component. What they won't tell you is that they will say "make-or-break" about every single component of your application. So, don't take it so seriously!

Instead, here are some tips for your essays that I find to be particularly useful, and used when I was applying to Dartmouth.

  1. Spell-check. This one seems rather self-explanatory, but you won't believe the number of people (myself included) who've turned in college apps with the silliest little errors. Reading and re-reading, and getting other people to double check your spellings, your grammar, and even the tiny nitty-gritties is important. Speaking of which…
  2. Make sure your details are correct. Often times, especially in a "Why Dartmouth?" essay, applicants put in some tid bits that they've learned about the college through the web or other current/past students. What's important is that your information is relevant and up to date. For example, I wanted to write about King Arthur Flour at Dartmouth in 2021. Lucky for me, I found out that King Arthur Flour closed in 2020 just 48 hours before the deadline. A quick edit really helped me out!
  3. Don't use biiiiig words. Sometimes, in an effort to portray ourselves as really academically intellectual, we use super big words in our essays. Don't worry — I'm guilty of it too. But the biggest thing I will say is that big words weigh down your essay; because they're often the only instances of flowery language in your writings, they're very easy to spot and stick out like a sore thumb. Instead, write like you would normally write—keep it formal, keep it concise, and keep it you!
  4. The less clutter, the better. Considering word counts are obviously something that stress most of us out, it'd be better to just keep your details to a minimum, or instead go in-depth about one or two things. We'd like to name drop as many professors, as many traditions, as many classes, and as many experiences as we can — but that's often the thing that we trip over. Instead, talk about one or two professors, the research they've done that interests you, and how you see yourself in their classes. It's good practice for college writing, too!
  5. Show how unique you are. There are hundreds of thousands of college apps going out every single day to colleges across the world. That means admissions officers have an unholy amount of things to read. The things that stick out to them are the things that are unique. Lucky for you, by being yourself, you don't have to cultivate that unique character. Instead, show it — write about the things that other people have found weird, found funny, or just different in yourself. I promise that helps you out in the long run (for life too!)

These are some basic tips for app season. All the best!

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