Barron's Essays That Will Get You into College

Twelve years of English teachers have tried to teach me how to write essays, but as of yet no one’s taught me how to write college application essays. Apparently it’s a very specific skill.

Barron’s Essays That Will Get You into College doesn’t beat you over the head with what your teachers have already taught you, but it does teach writing techniques that are essential to a college essay and, so far in my life, a college essay only. Essays stresses that by senior year, the essay is the one aspect of our applications that we truly and fully control; and that it, along with the interview, is a gateway into our souls (not really, but close enough). Our personalities should glimmer through every word. If you’ve been stalking the MIT Admissions blogs for the past half decade (like me), this is nothing new. But Barron’s actually goes as far as explaining how to do this, even with a tricky What’s-your-favorite-movie? or Why-did-MJ-have-to-die? prompt (not really, but close enough).

The one part of Essays that sucked was the essays. A few were acceptable, but for the most part I was surprised that the people who wrote them got accepted to Harvard, Princeton, Yale, etc.; if I were writing them I’d proofread and revise another ten or twenty times. I ended up not reading the bulk of the sample essays to avoid influencing my own (negatively or otherwise).

The real admissions committee comments on these essays, however, and the quotes sprinkled throughout the advice sections make Barron’s guide a bit more trustworthy than most other five-steps-to-awesomeness books. All suspicious claims are supported by anonymous, barely-referenced admissions committee members.

But shadiness aside, I recommend reading at least the first half of Essays to get a good idea of your essays’ purpose in your application and how to achieve that purpose. It’d be a shame for a single essay to subvert the three and a half years we spend building the rest of our applications.


~ by science cow on July 31, 2009.

3 Responses to “Barron's Essays That Will Get You into College”

  1. Formulas are a bunch of crap. There is no set formula to really improve your chances other than to write from within and convey who you really are. Remember they’re in this to make money and the essays they use as examples are just from accepted students who may have been getting in already or affirmative action students.

    • Eh, yeah. I’m not exactly obeying Barron’s like a Bible. But I still thought the book was helpful, particularly since it told me what you just did: that my essays need to be personable and reflect me. And it had good brainstorming ideas.

      I’m not looking for any sort of formula. The school I go to will be the school that fits me, and yes I know how cliche that sounds. =p
      Also, if I haven’t “improved my chances” by now (now being after my entire high school career), it’s not going to happen.

  2. great suggestions!

    want even more information and tips on how to write compelling college admissions essays? (i also have a post on my favorite how-to book on these essay on my blog.)

    check out my blog, which is exclusively on how to write these dreaded essays:

    good luck!

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