April 7, 2015

Writing Optional College Application Essays

Check whether each school asks a question along the lines of "Why do you want to go to our school in particular?" (aka "Why X?") If they ask this question, be sure to answer it. To gather the specifics necessary to answer this question, visit the school's website. Visit the school in-person, if possible. Talk to current students and alumni, and be as specific as possible in your reasons for wanting to attend the school.

Schools will typically allow you to write an optional essay or addendum on any topic (including weaknesses). If there's a topic you weren't able to cover in the other essays, consider doing so here. (If a school doesn't ask a "Why X?" question, you can provide your answer to such a question here.)

All of these essays should be reviewed by trusted family/friends, as well as your guidance counselor.

Enter all the essays and other parts of the application that you’ve written into each college application. Make sure everything is formatted correctly and that you haven’t mentioned the wrong school in a particular essay or application (it happens).

Put the finishing touches on your college essay, diversity statement, optional essays, etc. Give them another read and make any changes you think might be appropriate.

Before submitting your applications, look at this year's applications (which should now be available) and make sure there haven't been any significant changes from last year's versions if you were using those.

Enter all the essays and other parts of the application that you’ve written into each college application. Make sure everything is formatted correctly and that you haven’t mentioned the wrong school in a particular essay or application (it happens).

Triple-check everything before hitting "send."

Congratulations - you're finished! Pat yourself on the back, and thank everyone who helped you.

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