Telling a tired admissions officer why you’re wonderful, talented, smart and deserving of a coveted spot at their university is not only boastful, it’s booooooooring. A sure way to put any reader of any narrative to la-la land is to explain, posit, announce, proclaim, dictate — the list of “tell” verbs goes on and on. The knack to an interesting, even arresting narrative, is to show, illustrate, conjure, entertain, amuse and most importantly illuminate. A riveting essay is one that doesn’t get thrown in the trashcan but rather used an example for future applicants.
Use these three narrative tools to avoid being tossed aside during this application season:
Compelling scenes have details that linger. Description is most effective when used to convey personality and not just simple information.
YES: My grandmother’s kitchen smells like cinnamon rolls and coffee as these are the only two items my 89-year-old Nana knows how to make.
NO: My grandmother can barely cook.
Hearing the way someone speaks is memorable. Dialogue is most effective when used to convey personality not just simple information.
YES: “I said ‘kick the ball’ not ‘break a window’,” his father said.
NO: “I like milk,” his father said.
When characters engage in movement, whether it’s traveling, playing a sport, performing on stage or doing chores, they attract the reader’s attention. Action is most effective when used to convey personality not just simple information.
YES: She tuned her guitar by lowering her ear so that it almost touched the wood of the instrument.
NO: She practiced the guitar.
For more information about College Counseling/Essay Coaching, please drop me a line at Elizabeth@eecollegecoach.com or give me a holler at 917-863-2424. Also, for “news you can use,” please check out my blog, videos, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.