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How to write the best college application essay?

Writing a compelling university admissions essay is crucial for gaining acceptance into your desired institution. One effective approach to structure your essay and highlight your achievements and experiences is by using the STAR method. In this blog post, we will explore why it is the important to write an effective essay, the STAR method with examples, and highlight common mistakes students make.

The Importance of Effective Essay Writing

Effective essay writing can significantly impact university admissions. According to a recent study, 43% of admissions officers consider essays as highly influential in the admission decision-making process. Furthermore, another survey found that 26% of admissions officers rated the application essay as being of considerable importance, second only to high school grades.

The STAR Method

The STAR method is a structured approach that helps you effectively communicate your experiences and accomplishments in a concise and impactful manner. It stands for:

  • S: Situation: Describe the background and context of the experience or achievement.

  • T: Task: Explain the specific task or goal you were responsible for.

  • A: Action: Discuss the actions you took to address the situation or accomplish the task.

  • R: Result: Share the outcome or result of your actions and highlight your personal growth or impact.


Example 1: Situation - During my sophomore year, my school's robotics team faced a major setback when our primary robot broke just before a crucial competition.

Task - As the team captain, I took charge of finding a solution and ensuring that we were able to compete effectively.

Action - I organized an emergency meeting with team members, brainstormed ideas, and delegated tasks to find alternative solutions. I worked closely with a few team members to develop a backup robot using spare parts and secured additional funding from local businesses.

Result - Despite the setback, our team not only managed to participate in the competition but also secured second place, showcasing our resilience, teamwork, and problem-solving skills.

Example 2: Situation - As a volunteer at a local animal shelter, I noticed that many of the older dogs were often overlooked by potential adopters.

Task - I took it upon myself to find a way to bring attention to these senior dogs and increase their chances of being adopted.

Action - I created a social media campaign featuring heartwarming stories and photos of the senior dogs. I also organized adoption events specifically focused on showcasing these dogs' unique qualities and offering incentives to potential adopters.

Result - Thanks to the campaign, several senior dogs found loving forever homes, and the shelter's adoption rates increased significantly. This experience taught me the power of advocacy and the impact a small initiative can have on a broader scale.

Common Mistakes in Essay Writing

While the STAR method is a valuable framework for essay writing, it's essential to avoid common mistakes that can diminish the impact of your essay. Here are a few examples:

  1. Lack of specificity: Vague and generic statements do not provide insights into your experiences. Instead, be specific and provide concrete details to make your essay more captivating.

  2. Overuse of buzzwords: Overusing buzzwords and clichés can make your essay sound generic and unoriginal. Instead, focus on genuine experiences and use your own authentic voice.

  3. Poor organization: A well-structured essay is essential for conveying your message effectively. Use clear paragraphs, transitions, and headings to guide the reader through your essay.

In today's competitive landscape, where universities receive a large number of applications, a well-crafted essay can help you stand out in the crowd. By utilizing the STAR method and avoiding common mistakes, you can create a compelling essay that showcases your achievements, personal growth, and unique qualities.

In conclusion, the STAR method is a powerful tool to structure your university admissions essay effectively. Through real-life examples, we demonstrated how the STAR method can be applied, while also highlighting common mistakes to avoid. By utilizing this method and crafting a compelling essay, you can significantly increase your chances of gaining acceptance into your desired university. Good luck with your essay writing journey!

Statistics sources:

  • According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), 43% of admissions officers stated that essays had a considerable influence on admission decisions.

  • A study conducted by Kaplan Test Prep found that 26% of admissions officers rated the application essay as being of considerable importance, second only to high school grades.

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