By Hailey Dickson, Product Marketing Manager at Khan Academy
Writing a college admission essay can be daunting for many students, especially when you consider the stakes. One of the most challenging aspects of the college admission process is writing the perfect admission essay. You only have a few hundred words to express your personality, accomplishments, and goals and convince the admissions board that you are the right fit for their institution.
That being said, it’s crucial to put your best foot forward and ensure your essay stands out from the pack. Fortunately, with advancements in technology, you don’t have to do it alone. In this blog, we will explore how AI, and more specifically Khan Academy’s AI tutor Khanmigo, can help you brainstorm and perfect your admission essay.
Preparing to Write a College Admission Essay
Before you start writing your college admission essay, it’s essential to take some time to prepare yourself. This preparation includes understanding the essay’s requirements, gathering useful information, and developing a timeline to create an outstanding essay.
Firstly, familiarize yourself with the essay’s format and word count requirements. Most colleges require a 500-750 word essay, while some schools might set a different word count limit. Reading sample essays from successful students can help you understand the structure and tone.
Next, you need to decide what story or personal experience you wish to share with your admissions reader. This personal experience should be unique and highlight your individuality. It should also align with your interests and demonstrate your passion for your chosen field of study.
Since you have to limit your essay to a few hundred words, it’s imperative to identify your key points and give priority to the ones that effectively communicate your story. Make a list of specific experiences or events that have shaped your character and try to narrow down which ones best fit the prompt. It’s crucial to remember that less is more. A tightly crafted essay can make a more significant impact than one that tries to include too much.
Understanding the Requirements of a College Admission Essay
To improve your chances of getting into your dream college, it’s crucial to understand what college admissions reviewers are looking for in a great essay. The admissions board reads your essay to understand whether you might fit into their academic program and community. Therefore, your writing will ideally demonstrate your:
- fit with the school’s academic culture and goals;
- passion and interest in your chosen field of study;
- potential for academic excellence; and
- active involvement in extracurricular activities and community service.
Additionally, you should follow a clear, logical structure that is easy to read and understand. Your essay should tell a story that interests the reader and leaves a memorable impression.
As an example, here are Purdue’s Freshman essay requirements:
First-Time College Students (Freshmen)
Required minimum-maximum word count: 250-650
- Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
- The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
- Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
- Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
- Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
- Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
- Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
Respond in 250 words or fewer.
- How will opportunities at Purdue support your interests, both in and out of the classroom?
- Briefly discuss your reasons for pursuing the major you have selected.
Brainstorming Ideas for Your College Admission Essay
The key to writing an impactful college admission essay is brainstorming. Brainstorming is the process of generating ideas and concepts before you start writing. It’s an excellent way to organize your thoughts, prioritize your story’s key points, and highlight your accomplishments. Here are some tips for brainstorming:
- Conduct extensive research on the college, its values, and its requirements.
- Freewrite in a journal, exploring possible topics and themes.
- List your achievements, interests, and experiences, highlighting the ones that best align with the college’s academic culture.
- Engage with peers or professionals who know you well to help you identify unique stories that demonstrate your strengths.
Use AI to Help You Get into College!
Using Khanmigo to Brainstorm an Effective Admission Essay
Khan Academy has built a feature in Khanmigo to help students brainstorm their college admission essays. All you need to do is log in to Khanmigo and navigate to the “Write” section and select “Brainstorm an admissions essay.” The AI tutor will walk you through the process:
Writing Your College Admission Essay
Once you have brainstormed your ideas and identified your key points and story arcs, it’s time to start writing. The writing process could be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Here are some tips to help you write a standout college admissions essay:
- Grab the reader’s attention from the start with an engaging hook; this strongly influences the admissions reader from the get-go
- Ensure your essay has a clear structure—introduction, body, and conclusion.
- Use simple and clear language; avoid using jargon and technical terms that the reader may not understand.
- Show, don’t tell; use anecdotes and descriptive language to help the reader immerse themselves in the story.
- “Don’t tell me the moon is shining. Show me the glint of light on broken glass,” – Anton Chekhov
- Edit and proofread your essay thoroughly; check your grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
AI Editing and Proofreading
One of the most important aspects of essay writing is editing and proofreading. However, it can be challenging to identify errors in grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and flow. That’s where Khanmigo has your back once again.
Simply log in to Khanmigo and navigate to the “Write” section and select “Check for problems with my admission essay.” The AI tutor will help you in an intuitive manner, observing pitfalls and helping link the logic of your writing to the best practices of admissions writing.
Tips for Submitting Your College Admission Essay
The final step is to submit your college admission essay. Before you hit the submit button, spend time reviewing your essay to ensure it meets all the necessary requirements. Here are some tips to help you submit an outstanding essay:
- Read and follow the submission guidelines provided by your college.
- Check for typos, grammar, and punctuation errors using a tool like Khanmigo.
- Show your essay to someone you trust, such as a teacher or mentor, to get feedback and suggestions.
- Give yourself time to recharge and return to your essay with fresh eyes before submitting.
With these tips and AI-driven support from Khanmigo, you’re now well-equipped to write a college admission essay that truly represents you.
Get Help with Your College Application Essay Today
Writing a college admission essay is not an easy feat. However, with proper preparation, understanding of the prompt, and support from AI tools such as Khanmigo, it’s possible to craft an essay that stands out and reflects your unique personality.
Remember, it’s not just about meeting the essay’s minimum requirements but about showcasing your achievements, story, personality, and goals in a way that resonates with the college board. If you follow our tips and lean into support from AI, you’ll be on your way to a standout college admission essay and a successful submission.