Applying to college has become incredibly complex. Students no longer can rely only on their grades and standardized test scores. Now, students have to write essays. Not just typical five-paragraph papers that are taught throughout middle school and high school. Students now have to write absolutely flawless and brilliant papers before they can get accepted into the colleges of their choice.
There are several things to know about the projects that colleges want to see before they will accept you into the institution. Some colleges will provide a topic for student applicants. Others will ask that students create their own topics and papers. There are colleges that want students to write about their history by asking them to share their most memorable experiences. There are other colleges that will ask highly unusual topics that make them think outside of the box.
No matter what the topic happens to be, students need to be sure that they are sharing information that makes them stand out. Too many students write about their experiences working overseas with their youth groups or volunteering with people who are less fortunate than they are. This is nice, but it is not unique. Students need to think differently, more differently than they ever have before. They need to look at what their friends do and try to do something unexpected.
Colleges want to find students who can stand out from the crowd - in a positive way. They cannot stock their colleges full of students who volunteer with their church youth groups. Not that this type of volunteer work is bad - colleges just need to have a variety of students with varying experiences.
Colleges do not want to see the typical five-paragraph essay. They want to see that incoming students do know how to write, but they want to see that they know how to write well. The better writers do understand the rules of essay writing, but they also know how to break the rules while keeping their writing assignments coherent. Those five-paragraph essays were appropriate for 9th grade, but not after that.
Students also need to be sure that their grammar, mechanics, and style are nearly perfect. Students need to show college admissions experts that they know how to write and that they do not need to be remediated while in school. If the essay is a complete disaster because you do not know how to write complicated sentences or how to write a complex sentence, then you should not ever waste your time writing the paper.
Prior to submitting the paper to the college, it is always a good idea to have the paper proofread by someone that you trust. This should be a teacher or a student who knows grammar and mechanics. It is also a good idea to pick someone who can be honest with you, because you need to know if the paper is good enough to mail to a college admissions office.
While topics will vary from college to college, one thing is generally the same. Colleges will set a word-count maximum. It is required that students not go over the maximum. So, if the college wants an essay under 500 words - do not write 501 words. They want to see that students can focus on a moment in time and that they can do it without getting overly wordy. They also want to see that students can follow instructions - especially since college instructors are not able to consistently work with their students like high school teachers do.