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One of the most important, and stressful, parts of the college admissions is facilitating and finalizing your admissions essay. College admissions essays are important because they provide a clear demonstration of the applicants writing skills, giving the admissions counselor an insight into their world and their thoughts. This is why it is also sometimes referred to as a personal statement.

The goal of the admissions essay is to make a good impression among prospective admissions counselors, and ultimately be accepted to their dream school. The combination of these things can lead an applicant to feeling a lot of pressure, which sometimes makes these essays all the more difficult. Here are some tips to help craft the perfect college admissions essay.

Where To Start

The first step is determining where to start! Planning your essay is just as important as writing it. Applicants should give themselves plenty of time to draft and revise before having to submit their applications, preferably doing so the summer before they intend to apply. This allows them to focus solely on the task at hand.

Research!

Before drafting the actual essay, do some research. Check out the schools online admissions pages for the colleges you intend to apply, and read over their specific requirements. Available should be a desirable word count, and an essay prompt. These could vary depending on schools, so be sure to pay close attention.

Choose A Topic

Once you review all requirements and prompts, it’s time to brainstorm and choose an appropriate essay topic. A good place to start is by asking your family, friends and peers and ask them some personal questions about what makes you different from others. since they are the people who know you best, you can expect them to be honest and upfront with you. They may also offer additional insight that you wouldn’t have thought of. The topic of choice should be something that teaches the admissions counselors something new about yourself, so take your time and make it unique.

Don’t Procrastinate

The worst thing you can do is wait until the last minute to write your college essay. Start early and make a plan for yourself. Give yourself deadlines for when you want to have your topics chosen, outline complete, first draft, revised, draft, etc, and stick to it!

Dr. Arnold Peter Weiss is the R. Scot Sellers Scholar of Hand Surgery; Chief of Hand Surgery; Vice Chairman & Professor, Brown University. He is the former Dean of Admissions at Brown University Medical School (2004-2012).