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Writing a College Essay for an Honors College

written by: Erik Hinrichsen•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 2/15/2011

This guide explains how to write an admissions essay for honors college. The straightforward advice thoroughly explains the process of writing the essay, as well as style tips and common mistakes to avoid.

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    When Might You Need to Know How to Write an Essay for Honors College?

    If you need to know how to write an essay for honors college, you've come to the right place. Many state schools, seeking to attract top students, have an elite honors college. Getting in to the honors college is more difficult than the general school, of course, and usually requires an extra essay. Knowing how to write an essay for honors college can mean the difference between admittance and rejection, especially for borderline applicants. By writing a well-written, meaningful, and engaging essay, you can increase your odds of being admitted to the honors college of your choice. This guide to writing the honors college essay will give you the necessary tools to compose the essay that best reflects you as a person.

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    Getting Started

    • Read the prompt!

    Before you start writing, make sure to read the prompt carefully. It is very important that your essay correspond to the actual requirements of the school. Some honors college essays may have word count limits, and each school is likely to have its own requirements. If you are applying to more than one school, be sure to tailor your essay to each college's requirements. Submitting an essay that clearly ignores the school's guidelines will reflect poorly on you as an applicant.

    • Choose a topic

    After you feel you understand the prompt, take time to gather your thoughts and figure out what you want to write about. Make sure that your chosen topic or anecdote clearly explains a positive aspect of yourself. Remember, the point of the essay is to sell yourself to the admissions committee.

    If the prompt is something like "Why have you decided to apply to the Honors college?", take the time to think through your real reasons. While being honest is very important, it is also imperative to make your reasons engaging and to present yourself in a positive light. If you just want to go to the honors school because the students get nicer dorms, don't say so! Talk about the ways being in the honor school will help you achieve your life goals and advance yourself as a person.

    • Organize your thoughts

    Many people find it helpful to plan out their essay before starting to write. This can help you to organize your thoughts into a clear, coherent narrative. Making an outline is an excellent way to do this, though there are other methods. Whatever you do, make sure you understand where you're going with the essay before you start writing it.

    • Write a Draft

    Your first draft might not be great. It might be terrible. But that's alright, because you have plenty of time to revise. It's much easier to improve an essay on paper than one that's still floating around your head.

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    How to Organize Your Essay

    While the essay doesn't need to be a standard school essay, the essay should have some semblance of structure. At the very least, it should contain a brief, engaging introduction. The introduction should introduce the reader to you, the writer, and briefly state whatever your main focus is.

    Remember that honors college essays are not novels. Write a straightforward essay that clearly explains something about yourself and your goals. Unless you're applying for a creative writing program, essay readers have no interest in your story-telling abilities. The essay should generally avoid narratives altogether unless the story very strongly describes something about yourself.

    Finishing the essay can be difficult. While it isn't always necessary to write a conclusion, doing so can help summarize your points so that readers come away from your essay with a clear understanding.

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    • Read over your essay

    Remember that you are applying for an elite honors college. Spelling errors and grammatical mistakes will reflect poorly on you. Run spell check and read over the essay for any mistakes or unclear phrasings. If you aren't good with grammar and spelling, have someone else look over the essay.

    • Have other people edit your essay

    Show your essay to as many people as possible - friends, family members, and teachers - and ask for their honest feedback. English teachers are excellent resources for this purpose, as they've likely read many such essays and can point out your essay's flaws. Whatever you do, don't let other people write the essay! The admission board readers read thousands of essays and can usually pick out an adult's writing quite easily. Besides, this essay is meant to be a reflection on yourself.

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    Once you've edited your work and have a completed product, send in your application. Submitting early ensures that your materials will arrive on time; if there are any problems, you can easily resolve them before the deadline. Many honors colleges also admit students on a rolling basis, so the earlier you apply the better your chances. By focusing on learning how to write a college essay for honors college, you improve the likelihood that you will receive a positive response.

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    Personal Essay Tips

    Tips for Writing an Honors College Essay

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