Take Time to Create a Winning Essay (Part One)

Written by Nell McCormack Abom, Host Smart Talk TV | Sep 15, 2009 1:50 AM

Multiply that dynamic by the number of original essays required to complete applications for all of the colleges on a student’s “short list” and you get the picture. If you are a college applicant, you’ve got your work cut out for you!

That said, most students submit essays that do little more than satisfy requirements. Basically, their essays are worthless. Ouch! I didn’t say they were bad or technically flawed essays. I am simply observing that, from my experience, a vast majority of essays fail to make a difference in the applications of the students who submitted them.

For the students who submit them, such essays represent solid efforts but that’s it. The essays may be “good enough” to meet the requirements, but they fail to elevate the applicants above the competition.

Writing a winning essay isn’t easy. However, if you can pull it off, you will have introduced a highly competitive element to your application.

Producing an essay that will grab the attention of the reader requires time, reflection and a bit of inspiration. It won’t materialize out of thin air. In other words, to create a compelling statement, you need to invest in its development. You can’t rely on the adrenaline rush or the sense of urgency that comes with deadline writing. Rather, you need to engage in a systematic drafting and editing process that could go on for a month or two.

Time can be your greatest ally if you use it wisely. You see, time can be an editorial tool that allows you to gain valuable perspective as you draft and edit your essays. Given time, you can step back from your working drafts and edit effectively. Conversely, if you are prone to “one-draft” writing, you deny yourself the opportunity to make a good essay great.


Peter Van Buskirk is an author, consultant, speaker and creator of the Best College Fit™ Resources. Visit to learn more about Peter and his student-centered approach to college planning.

Published in Life After 12th Grade

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