Everyone wants free money, am I right? But the idea of writing an essay can seem rather daunting! We realize the sacrifice and determination it takes to sit down on a free weekend to write an essay between other high school assignments, so we thought we would save you some time and effort by helping you write an essay that is a cut above the rest!
1. Have a point!
We have given you questions to guide your thoughts and we do want you to answer all the questions posed, but we are expecting you to incorporate those questions into a larger narrative. Make sure your essay has a unified statement, thesis, or argument behind it. For example, the leadership award asks you to engage three questions, all which should link back to your main point. Not only will this help you to stay on task, it helps us to read and understand your writing. The last thing you want us to be asking ourselves when reading your essay is “now what point is s/he trying to get at, again?”
2. Uniqueness is key
Support your argument with examples from your own life, and tell us why it matters. We aren’t looking for journal entries but we are looking to see that you have thoughtfully engaged the topics in your own life. These are the kinds of essays that stand out above the rest. For example, if you’re applying for the Academic Merit Award and the essay is asking you to write about the importance of diversity and dialogue, make sure you know what those words mean on a personal level, and you have a story or a strong researched argument to back up your opinion.
3. Show some excitement
Readers know when there is emotional investment in the essay and when there isn’t. Don’t write about what you think you should write about; write about what interests you!
Always have someone else read your essay before submitting. Another eye may catch an embarrassing spelling or grammatical error you missed. Don’t let spelling and grammar mistakes be the reason your essay is tossed aside.
5. Cite reputable sources
Make sure you opinions can be backed up by other knowledgeable sources (NOT buzzfeed or Wikipedia). Choose an academic style like APA or Chicago and stick with this style the whole way through.
Remember, you are brilliant and you can do this! If you have further questions, feel free to reach out to your Admissions Counsellor.
Writing suggestions courtesy of the CMU Admissions Team