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Essay Writing Tips

A few tips from the “Fisk Real College Essays That Work”
(109 real admissions essays that worked, available in the CCC):
  • Stand out by being yourself

You are by far the most interesting possible topic.  If this sounds crazy, think about the most popular magazine in the United States.  It has a one-word name: People.  The magazine sells so well because people are interesting: their hopes and fears, their relationships, what they believe, how their minds work.  People are fascinating and you are a person.

  • Details, Details

You need concrete evidence to back up everything you say like anecdotes, thoughts, and observations that are unique to you.

  • Think Metaphorically

Metaphors and similes show a student’s ability to do big-picture thinking. If you’re ever at a loss for what to write, think of analogies that apply to your life.

  • What Do You Want To Show?

There are many qualities to emphasize in an essay, including that you: have a sense of humor, value diversity, embrace learning, notice the little things, are deeply committed, to an activity or idea, can overcome diversity, have initiative. 

Avoid any suggesting that you: are cynical, think you are a finished product, lack integrity, and tend to blame others.

Colleges don’t want people who are complainers, or people who withdraw from the community rather than embrace it.

Common Application Questions 

Please write an essay of 250 – 650 words on a topic of your choice or on one of the options listed below.  This personal essay helps us become acquainted with you as a person and student, apart from courses, grades, test scores, and other objective data. It will also demonstrate your ability to organize your thoughts and express yourself.

  1. Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  2. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
  3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  4. Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
  5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.