Top 10 Tips for College Admissions Essays
In the admissions process, US colleges and universities generally use three criteria for determining which students to accept and which to reject:
- Previous coursework – your college preparatory work and grade point average (GPA)
- Standardized test scores – SAT and ACT are the two most respected.
- Admission/Entrance essays
Of the three criteria, the college entrance essay provides you with the greatest opportunity to distinguish yourself from your competition and show off the person behind the statistics. This article will help in writing a college essay and help you boost your chances of being accepted by an American university or college
Section 1: Planning Your Essay
Tip #1: Understand the Admissions Board Psychology
When you have compiled all the pieces of your application and sent it to the college/university of your dreams, all of your hard work gets placed in a pile with hundreds of other applications. Then a small group of admissions officers will review each application, looking over the scores and coursework and reading the college application essays.
The key to convincing the admissions officers is in understanding what they are looking for. They want students who will:
- Succeed once they are admitted;
- Contribute to the educational experience of other students; and,
- Bring honor and prestige to the university once they graduate.
In your college admissions essay, you want to portray yourself as a student who will meet those needs. Of course, the specifics of what qualifies as “succeed” or “bring honor” will depend a bit on the particular university, but all admissions officers share these three goals.
Before you write your college admissions essay, take a few minutes and jot down some answers to the following questions:
- How can I reassure the admissions board that I will succeed in their school?
- How will I show that I am determined and ambitious; that I will not get poor grades or drop out?
- How can I contribute positively to the educational experience of other students?
- How might I bring honor and prestige to the university?
- What are my long-term goals? Might I win an award someday, or start a business, or improve a scientific process?
Your answer to these questions will help you frame the content of your essay.
Tip #2: Determine Your Essay Goals
Along with the three questions above, you should contemplate how you want the admissions officers to perceive you. After reading your college admissions essay, what should they think of your personality and activities?
Most students want the college admissions board to view them as responsible, dependable, and academically ambitious. These are excellent essay goals, but you should also consider the essay in relation to your classwork. If your classwork already shows that you are studious and determined (because you have taken a wide variety of advanced classes), then you may want to highlight another feature of your personality.
Along with developing an image of your character, writing the college admissions essay allows you to feature other aspects of your life that are not reflected in your pre-college coursework. Some aspects to consider:
- Have I worked at an interesting or relevant job?
- Do I belong to any clubs or organizations?
- Have I demonstrated leadership or teamwork?
- Have I demonstrated compassion or community-responsibility?
Tip #3: Distinguish Yourself from the Other Applicants
This bit of strategic thinking should be fairly easy. As an international student, you by definition are different from the bulk of American citizens who apply to American universities. However, it is not enough to simply say, “Well, I’m not from around here.” Instead, you need to reference the strengths of your home culture. You don’t need to elaborate at length; a sentence or two should be enough to ensure that the admissions board pays attention to you.
Remember that you are more than just an international student from an interesting background; you are a complete person with a lifetime of experiences. You should take some time to think about what else makes you different from most the other hundreds of students writing college admissions essays. Add those features (plays piano, excellent at football, speak five languages) to your growing list of essay goals.
Tip #4: Contribute to the University
Remember that one of the goals of the admissions board when reading college admissions essays is to find students who will enhance the educational experience of other students. In other words, how can you contribute to other students’ learning? As with tip #3, you already have an edge by being an international student.
One of the general goals of education is to broaden people’s experiences, so that they come to realize the limits of their own intellect, and then grow beyond those limits. As an international student, you offer other students an opportunity for cultural diversity. As with Tip #3, it is not enough to assume the college admissions board will recognize this benefit. You need to highlight it in your essay. Again, a sentence or two should be enough to accomplish this goal.
Again, remember that you are more than just an international student. You have so much more to contribute to the campus social and learning environment than just your home culture. Take a few moments to consider what else you may contribute.
- Maybe you are excellent at study groups or other forms of collaborative work.
- Maybe you will join a student organization or athletic team.
- Maybe you will write for a student newsletter or blog.
Whatever you feel you can contribute, add that to your list of essay goals.
Tip #5: Understand and Answer the Essay Prompt
At this point, you’ve come up with more ideas than you can possibly fit into one essay. Now you need to focus your goals to only three or four ideas – the ones that will make you the most attractive to the college admissions board. No matter what the prompt asks, you want to ensure you include those three or four ideas in your college admissions essay.
The concept is to present a few ideas very well, rather than list all your ideas poorly. A narrowly focused essay will be much more effective than a general, vague one.
Reading and answering the prompt may seem a bit obvious, but it’s often the obvious that people ignore. You should take the time to read and re-read the essay prompt, so you can answer it fully. Don’t be intimidated; unlike some college exams, the college application essay prompt is not designed to trick you. However, you must demonstrate that you can read and follow directions. Think of that great pile of applications. The admissions officers are looking for a reason to disregard candidates. Don’t let them reject you because you hastily overlooked a sentence in the essay prompt.
On the other hand, the prompt is designed to give you some freedom for creativity, which will allow you to work in those three or four key ideas that you have developed through tips 1 through 4. You are encouraged to find novel ways of answering the prompt, so long as you do indeed answer the questions provided.
If you need more help choosing a topic, you can find some tips on our Choosing a Topic for Your College Essay page.
Section 2: Writing Your Essay
At this stage in the college admissions essay writing process, you have considered the goals and psychology of the college admissions board. You have produced a list of ideas/attributes/details about yourself that colleges will find appealing. You have narrowed that list to the three or four most important ideas – the ones that will get you into your preferred college/university. Now it is time to actually write the essay.
Tip #6: Write with Specific Details
The key to excellent and memorable writing is to write in fine detail. The more specific your essay, the stronger an impression it will make on the admissions board. If you are trying to show that you are a dedicated scholar, don’t write: “I never missed an assignment deadline, no matter how poorly I was feeling the night before.” Instead you write: “In my junior year, I came down with a terrible case of pneumonia. Despite having a 103 degree fever and being required to stay in bed, I still completed my draft speech on the possible impacts of global warming on agriculture.” The latter will make a stronger impression; and people vote for the people they remember.
As you are writing your essay, ask yourself:
- Is there a specific instance or example that shows this?
- Can I add imagery (colors, shapes) to make it more interesting?
- Can I replace general nouns (“class” or “car”) with something specific (“Honors Geometry” or “Honda Civic”)?
You may be thinking, “I don’t really like to boast about my personality; I prefer to let my record speak for itself.” While you should try to avoid sounding too arrogant, the college application essay is not the time for modesty. The admissions officers are expecting you to celebrate yourself, to underline your strengths and personality, so they can make a quick, accurate judgment about you.
Tip #7: Demonstrate College-Level Diction
Diction (word choice) is the fundamental structure of writing. Your word choice reveals a great deal about your personality, education and intellect. Furthermore, as an international student, you want to reassure the college admissions board that you have an excellent command of the English language (remember: they want you to succeed; they need to know that you can actively participate in English-only instruction).
With this in mind, you should replace lower-level words (bad, sad, thing, nice, chance) with higher-level words (appalling, despondent, phenomena, comforting, opportunity). You might consider looking up SAT/ACT vocabulary words and working a handful of those into your essay.
You should also remove any slang or casual diction; the university is not interested in casual language in their admissions essays.
Tip #8: Demonstrate College-level Style
An American proverb states, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” In other words, you want to present yourself as being ready for the next job. In this instance, you want to show that you already have college-level writing skills. So, in writing your college application essays, you should write with the following features in mind:
- Write primarily in complex sentences, rather than simple or compound sentences;
- Include figurative language such as a metaphor, a simile, personification; and
- Include a trope or scheme, such as chiasmus, oxymoron or anaphora.
As with tip #7, this serves two functions: 1) it distinguishes your essay from those that are poorly written; and 2) it reassures the admissions board of your excellent command of written English.
Tip #9: Have Someone Proofread Your Essay
This is one of the most important tips on this list. Everyone who writes knows that the words in your head don’t always make it onto the page the way they should. Because you know what it should say, it’s easy to trick yourself into thinking the essay says something that it doesn’t. For this reason, you should ask a friend or a relative (or an English teacher) to look over your essay and check your:
- Grammar: did you write in complete sentences? Do all your subjects and verbs agree?
- Diction: are all the words used properly for an American audience?
- Organization: have you grouped sentences together coherently?
Tip #10: Pay Attention to Deadlines
College admissions essays require a tremendous amount of work. As you work and rework the essay, pay attention to the admission deadlines and requirements. Every school has their own system for how and when to file your application. Do not assume that, because one school uses e-mails and PDFs, that another school does as well.
The best way to stay organized through the college admissions process (and at the university when courses begin) is to rigorously maintain a calendar that includes:
- Final deadlines
- Reminders of upcoming deadlines
- Process deadlines (breaking larger tasks into smaller steps)
Bonus Tip: Post, but Don't Panic
At some point, you will file your college admissions application. After you post it, please don’t panic. With these tips, and your determined intellect, you have an excellent chance of being accepted to an American university.
Take a look at our college essay samples to get an idea of what colleges are looking for in your essay.
Marketing Management Scholarships
Degrees Lead to Jobs in Product Promotion, Selling and Development
Marketing Management as a profession is the adult sibling of its relatives, marketing and management. The title necessitates that the candidate must be multi-talented: they must be skilled at dealing with people internally as a manager as well as knowing what appeals to people externally as a marketer. Successful marketing managers at the top of their company will have a significant amount of experience in the industry, but they start like anyone else at the undergraduate level.
Students studying for a Marketing Management major will be trained in all the basics of marketing, including product development, packaging, selling and promotion. Simultaneously, students will also receive training in business administration. You should expect that the companies of potential employers will require anyone with serious interests in management to earn a graduate degree, so be prepared to go all the way with this academic pursuit.
Know that while you will have to start at the bottom of the pool in embarking on your dual-natured degree, you will swiftly move up. You will also begin to specialize in a product or service area, which will increase your marketability as you gain experience. Since marketing and management positions are all extremely competitive, the synthesis of these two fields is accordingly so.
Luckily, there are some scholarship incentives for future marketing managers to keep you happy along the way. Here are a few options in funding your undergraduate and graduate college training that you may consider:
CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council
The CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council offers members the CMBDC Scholarship for travel expenses to attend its conference. Awards are up to $1,500 and go toward the student registering and participating in the CMBDC annual conference held in the spring.
This award is for members of the association who are working full-time at a credit union in business or marketing. Applicants must demonstrate enthusiasm for the field, financial need, and willing interest in pursuing marketing in the banking and credit union realm. Recipients will have some involvement with the CMBDC upon their receipt of the scholarship, and will serve on a subcommittee for their annual conference.
Clarion University in Pennsylvania supports about 700 of its students through endowed and annual scholarship funds to each of its academic programs. Marketing and Management scholarships through Clarion include:
- Paul Y. Kim Advertising Management Scholarship is awarded to an upper-level student who exhibits demonstrated academic and extracurricular accomplishment.
- The Marketing Management Scholarship is offered through the department. It is one of five marketing scholarships offered to students studying in the field, including a couple marketing resarch scholarships and the Bonnie Silvertongue Memorial Marketing Scholarship. Students should contact the department of Marketing Chair at Clarion for more information.
McIntire School of Commerce, University of Virginia
The George Wasserman Distinguished Award in Marketing Management is offered by the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia. The recipient will be an outstanding student who synthesizes both marketing and management concepts or sales and management concepts and is actively pursuing the professional field. McIntire additionally offers scholarships specific to only marketing.
Culverhouse College of Businesss Administration, University of Alabama
Culverhouse College of Business Administration, part of the University of Alabama, offers a number of scholarship awards to its incoming and transfer students based on financial need and outstanding achievement. Their partnership with the Sales and Marketing Executives of Birmingham may also lead to future funding and fellowship opportunities for graduates of the school.
Fort Hays State University
The Department of Management and Marketing at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas, provides both freshman and upper level students with a list of about ten scholarship opportunities, including:
- Awards of Excellence are given to freshman entering the Management/Marketing department.
- The Commerce Bank award is a merit-based award given to an outstanding student in the major.
- The Robert and Elizabeth Armstrong Scholarship goes to students studying the M&M department at the undergraduate level.
Marketing Management Specialized Scholarships
At the junction of Marketing and Management there is typically an area of specialization further on in the student’s education. This may mean a career path in arenas such as the Fashion, Financial, or Automotive industries. Scholarships get more specific as the student begins to specialize.
For example, Northwood University in Michigan offers specializations in Fashion Marketing and Management and Automotive Marketing and Management as well of dozens of scholarships. These scholarships include:
- Dr. Patricia Naegele FMM Endowed Scholarship is a merit and need-based award of the Naegele Scholars Society.
- Dr. Willa M. Stauffer Fashion Marketing/Management Endowed Scholarship goes to an outstanding all around student. Only requires a 2.5 GPA.
- Chase Auto Finance Annual Scholarship for Automotive Marketing/Management students. Must prove financial need as well as academic acumen.
- The New Car Dealers Association of San Diego County Endowed Scholarship goes to a student in Automotive Marketing and Management; student must be a member of the New Care Dealers Association of San Diego and maintain a 3.0 GPA.
See Northwood’s broad listing of scholarships to apply for these.
Marketing Manager Opportunities
Shop around carefully with the listed business and marketing programs. Many offer general scholarships and grants for both departments, as well as providing their own unique options for self-made degree programs and a special two-pronged major like marketing management.
As a future marketing manager, you will also want to be sure to contact the marketing and business management departments of your college to check out any other scholarships for this field of study. Being cognizant of local business associations and professional organizations may also lead to good sources of monies.
Such a pointed career aspiration means that if you present yourself well and clearly to the right wealthy benefactor or group, they may see a little of themselves in you and provide scholarship funding for your studies. For this reason, it is important to be very specific in your intentions to be a marketing manager. The right blend of internal and external focus that is needed for this job is rare and highly sought after, so make sure your scholarship funders know that you possess these prime qualities.