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How to write your College Admission Essays: the power of specific details (with examples)

by Story2 Staff, on Jul 21, 2021 8:26:24 PM

Want to write a personal statement that will really make your college applications stand out? Instead of veering into generalizations, which are boring and send your reader packing, take time to remember details, dialogue and description from your lived experience to draw your reader into your experience and leave them asking for more.

The details, dialogue and description you remember make your college essays vivid and your own. These 3 D’s of college application essays add spice to your writing, just as surely as plenty of salt and pepper keep you in the kitchen on Top Chef.

Here’s how to do it:

Details: Share the experience with your reader through vivid sensory details: What colors were the leaves? What sounds came with the pounding rain? Which vegetables could you taste in your grandmother’s soup? What perfume was she wearing? Those scratchy trousers you wore to your first interview – were they polyester or wool?

Dialogue: It’s much more powerful to recreate the exact words of the conversation. Which of these draws you in and makes you want to read more?

“We talked about Manhattanhenge.”


“That is the biggest sun I have ever seen,” Charles said, pointing west across 53rd Street.

Description: These are the journalism questions: who, what, when, where, with the occasional why woven in. What year was it? What season? What was going on historically? Who else was there? Set the scene for your reader, so he or she is ready when you appear and take action.

And one more D for the road: it’s much better to go into depth with your college application essays, and to talk specifically about one specific moment, than to try to convey your whole life history in 250-500 words! 

Go to College Admission Essays Made Easy.

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Topics:college admissionscollege essaysessay writing tips