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15 Jan How to Structure a College Essay for Busy Readers

If you’re concerned about getting started on your college essay, you can relax – if you’ve followed the preliminary planning process laid out in previous articles. This plan for your college essay helps establish the logic of your paper and helps you write in a clear, concise and orderly manner. You’ll want to follow this process on all the papers you write, not just for college essays.

Let’s talk about structuring your college essay for busy readers. When you consider the importance of making a good first impression combined with the tired eyes of the college administrators who must read all the applications that come pouring in you get an idea of why you need to grab the attention of the reader and get your points across quickly and clearly.

With the right structure, your college essay will lead its readers from point to point and at the same time you make it easy for the reader to follow you from point to point as you develop your main theme. Without any structure, the reader can easily become confused by the wandering nature of the essay and may even stop reading it completely due to lack of interest. This cannot be good for you chances of being admitted to the college or university of your choice.

Let’s do a little demonstration from the college administrator’s perspective as he or she reads and essay. Essays that are poorly written and constructed take an inordinate amount of time and energy to read. The word used by the college administrator may be something more along the lines of decipher as he or she will have to decode your rambling writing and figure out what you’re trying to say. An irritated and annoyed college admissions officer is not likely to rate your college essay highly and that doesn’t bode well for the rest of your application either.

College admissions officers are human too. They’re job is to be neutral but considering the volume of college applications and essay they have to process, it’s likely that a poorly written college essay will shift them from neutral to negative and worse than that you’ll lose their goodwill and they’re likely to carry over that negativity when rating your college application as a whole.

For students who prefer to write an essay about a single experience here is a good diagram to follow. Start with an introductory statement followed by a thesis statement. Next comes a preview statement and a topic sentence. Now you’ll develop the topic and transition to the next topic sentence. Repeat this process until you’ve covered all the topics you have to discuss in the college essay. Finally, end with a concluding statement that ties the whole essay together. That’s the type of well-written cohesive essay that impresses college admissions officers.



Jerry Larson

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