Application essays provide ways for private school admissions officers to get to know students beyond their grades, test scores, and basic biographical information. They provide insight into a student’s personality and interests—to help determine if the school is the right fit for your child and vice versa.
Aside from the interview, writing the essay can be one of the most stress-producing steps in the application process. These suggestions from private school organizations can break the task of writing the essay into manageable steps that guide your child to crafting a work that makes him stand out to admissions officers.
READ THE DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY
Don’t write a two-sentence essay if the school asks for one page, but don’t write more than one page. And, don’t turn in a typed essay if the school wants it handwritten.
TELL THE SCHOOL WHAT IT WANTS TO KNOW
Schools often provide an essay prompt, so you need to respond to it. That said, the prompts—such as “recount some activity or event that challenged you in a positive way”—usually allow the applicant lots of leeway to write about a range of topics.
Do not wait until the night before the application is due to begin writing. Brainstorm and work out ideas with teachers, parents, or others early and give yourself time for revisions.
TELL A STORY
While the essay should have correct spelling and grammar and be legible, it doesn’t have to follow the academic essay formula. A good strategy is to tell a story—even filled with dialogue or vivid description—to get your point across.
Don’t write what you think an admissions officer wants to hear—because you really have no idea. Write about what you know and what excites you.
If you are an aspiring writer, for example, ask the school if you can write in verse, instead of the usual narrative.
Stay away from generalizations, such as “singing by myself in front of my school was challenging.” Instead, provide details or an example of how and why you were scared before that solo singing performance and felt triumphant afterwards.
PARENTS, THIS MUST BE YOUR CHILD’S WORK
While, as parents, you can provide feedback and help with editing, let your child do all the writing. If you can’t help but get overly involved, consider asking a neutral third party—a teacher, another relative, or a professional consultant—to help your child edit
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