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Simple steps to writing the perfect college essay

Make sure that you follow these seven steps and it’ll be smooth sailing from there.

College essays are one of the most important parts of your application, so it’s important to have them as strong as possible. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about getting them perfect—just making sure that you follow these seven steps and it’ll be smooth sailing from there!

1) Pick a topic that's right for you
Pick a topic that is right for you.  You want your essay to be personal and revealing so choose a topic that will do just that. It doesn't have to be about yourself; it could also be about something or someone important in your life. But, it should be about something that's near and dear to you. If not, you'll end up writing an essay that feels like someone else wrote it. That's not good!

2) Do your research
Researching your topic will help you figure out a better essay topic, as well as provide important information for your essay. Plus, you can use what you learn about the subject for your research paper. It’s an essential step in writing any essay, but it’s especially important when you’re writing about something that’s unfamiliar to you. If you're not sure how to find resources on your topic, talk with a teacher or look up academic databases and search engines.

3) Outline your essay
As a paper writer, your outline should include your introduction, supporting details, conclusion, and any other information you feel is important. For example, you could state that you will be using a mixture of sources from different authors or that your speech is about changing society in some way. You should also note how long the essay will be (e.g., 800 words) and what type of format it will follow (e.g., MLA or APA). The best way to write an essay outline is to start with brainstorming the topics you want to cover, writing them down on paper, then arranging them into an organized structure.

4) Write your essay
Take some time and think about what you want to share with colleges, whether it be your favorite memory or a defining moment in your life. Once you have an idea, come up with three or four points that help support your argument. Next, make sure that you have proof, such as pictures or quotes from family members, friends or teachers. Proof will back up your statements so there is no room for doubt.

5) Edit your essay
Edit your essay with a fresh set of eyes. The last thing you want is for your essay to be riddled with errors. Check for spelling, grammar, and sentence structure errors and fix them. If your essay is perfect, then it's ready for submission! Submit your essays at least two weeks before the application deadline. Don't wait until the last minute or else you may make mistakes that could jeopardize your chances of getting into college. Be sure to read all instructions carefully.

6) Get feedback on your essay
Getting feedback from someone who doesn't have an emotional attachment to your essay is key. Ask your English teacher, tutor, or someone else you trust to read your essay and give you constructive criticism. A professional editor is also a good idea if you can afford it. The goal of editing is not just grammar corrections; it's about making sure that your story works and has logical progression of ideas. It’s worth noting that some colleges don’t require applicants to submit the college essay, so it might be in your best interest to skip this step if it isn’t required.

7) revise your essay
Revise your essay by focusing on grammar and sentence structure. There are many websites and books dedicated to these skills, but we recommend checking out On Writing Well by William Zinsser for a more in-depth review of writing mechanics. Make sure every sentence is necessary. Avoid run-on sentences, comma splices, and dangling participles. Ask someone else to read your essay aloud to catch errors that you can’t see when reading it silently. Ask them not just if they understand what you're trying to say, but also if they're interested or entertained.

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