When it comes to applying for scholarships, a strong essay is essential, experts say. Scholarship committees are looking to learn something about each applicant -- something that will set him or her apart -- and your essay plays a big role in that process. But don't think you need to sit down and create a flawless, 750-word, stream-of-consciousness masterpiece. There are tricks.
"Instead of writing the answer to the question, answer it out loud while recording yourself, and later transcribe the recording," Mark Kantrowitz, senior vice president and publisher of Edvisors Network. Because people talk much faster than they type, "the act of writing interferes with the flow of thought."
Many high school students spend hours each week applying for scholarships, but that doesn't mean each package needs a separate essay, either.
"After your first half dozen or so, you find yourself being able to reuse material from the first essays," Kantrowitz points out.
Getting the best scholarships available is just one more reason your essays need to be their best.
How can you improve your writing before tackling your college essays?
Read, read, read.
The advice comes from Josh Stephens, the director of development for Los Angeles-based tutoring firm ArborBridge and a former teacher, college counselor and journalist.
The problem with schools today, according to Stephens, is they have no time to teach personal writing, which, essentially, is what your college essays are. Mandatory curriculum -- and in some cases, preparations for mandated tests -- sucks up all the time in the school year.
Stephens offers five great books that will strengthen the foundation -- or lay the original foundation if you don't already have one -- for writing your college essays.
"These pieces are clear, original, powerful and often delightful -- just like the writing, they are meant to inspire."
Have you heard enough about changes in the SAT, specifically the change to make essays no longer mandatory?
Those changes won't happen until 2016, but there are other changes, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The free online tutorials that will be offered by The College Board, the organization that develops and runs the SAT, could be bad news for test-preparation firms that have grown into a $1 billion industry, according to the journal.
But not all agree.
"Any time there is a high-stakes event, people want coaching, people are going to want an edge," said Seppy Basili, vice president of Kaplan Test Prep Co., told the Journal.
Arnie Rosenberg is the founder of The Center for Essay Excellence. He writes regularly about college essays and their importance to the college-admission process. Contact him at Arnie.Rosenberg.Editor@gmail.com.
© 2014 The Center for Essay Excellence