EDISON, NJ - Thanks to the Common Application and internet, the actual task of completing a college application has become less arduous than years past. However, there is one component that still warrants a good amount of time and is often most time consuming – writing the essay.

While the college admission essay isn’t typically considered one of the most important factors for admission consideration, it is still a factor and usually the only opportunity the school has a chance to understand you beyond your academic transcript. It is your chance to give them a glimpse into who you are, what your personality is like, what you care about, etc. Therefore, you do want to plan appropriately so that you have enough time to brainstorm ideas, outline, write it out, revise and proofread it.

Where to start?

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First, you’ll want to try and organize all the essays you need to write for all the schools you are applying to. In addition to a main essay, you may also have supplemental essays you will need to submit. Try to organize all the essay questions in one place. You can do this by copying and pasting each of them from the application to a Word document. Or you can take advantage of online resources such as College Essay Organizer, which provides you with all your essay questions for your schools in one place. Once you have all your essay questions in one place, you’ll be able to identify which ones are similar and in that case, you may be able to reuse some of your essays.

Tips for Writing the Essay

Answer the Question – This may seem silly, but sometimes students get so excited with an idea or topic that they end up writing it and without realizing it, they have actually gone off topic. I often recommend that students keep a copy of their question at the top of document for where they draft their essay and often refer to it as they write to ensure they are answering the question that is being asked of them.

Be Genuine and Memorable – The purpose of the essay is not to impress the admissions representative. It is about being yourself and sharing a piece of that with them. When they read essays, they are trying to pick the person that would be interesting to have at that school. You want people to read your essay and think, “Wow! They’d make a cool roommate. I can’t wait to meet them.” With that in mind, don’t be something that you are not. If you are not funny, don’t try to be funny in your essay. What ends up happening is the essay ends up coming off disjointed. Just be yourself.

Show. Don’t Tell – If there’s an interest you want to share or perhaps a specific memory, draw the reader in with specific details that make that story uniquely yours. There may be many applicants who write about a similar interest or job, but your details and description can help bring your essay to life and differentiate it from others.

These are just a few of the many considerations to keep in mind as you start to write your admissions essays. To learn more additional tips and how to approach different types of questions you may encounter, check out the free essay writing workshop at the Edison Main Library on August 24 from 6 to 8 p.m.