The writing process for essays in online college application helps institutions evaluate two crucial components in their prospective student, your creative ability or the way you are able to put thoughts into words and your ability to write clearly & with proper punctuation and sentence structure. The second of those is probably less of a worry if you have paid attention in your previous English classes, and beyond the scope of this article (though now I’m considering writing one about grammar). So, here are few tips to help you come off more creative in your personal essay for your online college application.

Switch it up: You may be used to using a formal writing template for persuasive writing. You know the kind. They have an opening paragraph in which you list the three or four points that you are going to address, go into each with a paragraph that helps to prove your point and then recap your points in a little different language. Chances are that the readers of the essays get tired of seeing the same old. So, why not switch it up a bit? Tell a story, start with climax and then flash back. Or paint a picture for them of a vision of you at the end of your education. Get creative and that will stand out.

Start with Fire, End with Ice: When an opening statement is hot, people get captivated and are excited to read the rest. Keep them engaged with some sort of conflict and close your essay with something just as eventful. Cool them off a bit at the end, give them a resolution to the conundrum you presented in the essay. Leave them with a feeling that you are the solution. To what? To whatever, just let them see that by accepting you they are going to be associated with solutions you will end up creating in the world once you graduate.

Fill in the Details: It’s good to have an opinion, but it’s also good to give people a reason for it. Let them see that you didn’t just make up a thought on the spot, but that it’s well thought out, directed by real world information. Cite a study that supports your opinion, but make sure that it says what you are meaning it to. There are people that cite studies just to look smart, only to have the exact opposite point presented in the article. It’s worth it to ground your opinions in facts. They may just check.

Share Your Industry Interest & Knowledge: Referencing the degree you plan on obtaining and the research interests you have can be very helpful. Share how your work experience can help contribute to your degree. You may have learned and perfected a specific process that could be valuable to the research that is going on at the institution. Mention it. Let them know why you want to get this degree and give them no reason to doubt your sincerity.

Be a Straight Shooter: No one likes to be lied to. On your application for online college is no place to start. Be yourself. Holding up a mask and changing like a chameleon to fit expectations may pay off in the short term, but once the mask is abruptly removed, you’ll be in a much worse place than you would have been dawning your true colors from the get go.

I hope these ideas have been helpful in sparking your own imagination and that it helps you find your own ways to stand out from the crowd in your own personal essay for your online college application. There’s a story in each one of us that is completely unique, tell it creatively and let the cards fall where they may. Good luck!

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