So it's finally that time when you are applying to colleges and planning your future. However, at this point, you are usually asked to write a college application essay. It's normal to worry about every little detail like the font size, margins, structure etc. Then stressing over how to start the article and which kind of paragraph style to use. This is where it can all start to be too much.
This handy guide put together by EssayPro will explain all the key areas to cover when formatting a college application essay. We will take you through all the small formatting queries like which font to use and heading style. Then onto bigger concerns including whether to use a college application essay template.
Note that before writing any essay for college, you need to master the 5-paragraph essay format.
- College Application Essay Margins, Fonts, etc.
- Online text box submission
- Submitting a separate document
- How to Structure Your Application Essay
College Application Essay Margins, Fonts, etc.
A college application essay is a narrative essay where one must demonstrate their academic skills as well as their individuality. Although the narrative essay structure usually depends on the writer’s story, there are certain rules when it comes to formatting the text itself.
This will usually depend on whether you will be copy and pasting into a text box or including a formatted document alongside your application. Either way, you should check with the chosen college. Currently, the typical way favored by the colleges is to enter your essay by copy and pasting into the given space.
It's worth noting that most colleges allow you to send in a physical paper application by post, which can in theory, give you more control over the formatting. I would suggest not sending in your application by post (unless you do not have a choice) for some of the following reasons:
Paper applications are more unreliable. While an online application could also present problems you would definitely be notified sooner and not have to wait for your lost mail to be posted back to you. Furthermore, an online application gives you more confidence that your documents will be received.
Most colleges prefer to receive an online application. Even though this will not generally weaken the possibilities of admission. You should always adhere to institutional preferences when completing the college application.
Doesn't matter which way you submit your college application essay, but what is important is that you craft it within a word processor application. You will have many more tools available to you, for example, spell check and word count but also the appearance will be more pleasing.
Now let's move on to some bigger concerns with the college application format. Including whether you copy and paste into a text box or submit a paper document with the addition of some helpful tips.
Online text box submission
Always remember to double or even triple check what you have copied and pasted into the space given.
Primarily check that nothing was lost or cut off and the complete essay has successfully copied.
Word counts can get screwed up by strange formatting and can also count as a different figure in a text box. So make sure you are aware and correct accordingly.
When copy and pasting it is possible to lose formatting like bold and italics. Also, this could be because of the fact that bold and italics is simply not available in a text box, so you might be better off not using them.
It is possible the paragraph spacing will be get messed up when copy and pasting your college application essay into the space given. Make sure they clearly marked with a tab or a skipped line if that fails.
The type of font you will be able to use will probably be limited to a few options but make sure you pick a standard one like Times New Roman or Arial and normal size like 12pt.
Submitting a separate document
When sending a separate document alongside your application then you might have different concerns about the overall format like margins and spacing come to mind.
Use 1-inch margins all round. This is standard and easy to read.
Try to use double or 1.5 spaced lines as this will be easier to read, even though single spaced essays are acceptable.
Clearly delineated paragraphs with a tab at the beginning is best.
Avoid fonts like curlz MT and wingdings and use one that is easy to use like Times or Calibi. Also, use size 20pt.
You may want to include your application ID number and college heading with page number, but don't include your name unless otherwise requested to.
Be careful with what file format is asked for. Some applications will only be supported by a certain version of Word, for example only .doc not .docx so check carefully before uploading and save the file in the correct filetype. A good tip is to save everything in Pdf format as they are not editable and generally look the same.
How to Structure Your Application Essay
So maybe you are less concerned with the smaller issues like the font style and size and interested in the larger worries. For example, like how to structure your college application essay. You could be asking yourself is there some kind of secret formula to get the right balance of expressing yourself easily and totally winning over an impressed admissions committee.
Unfortunately, there isn't. But on the plus side, a college admission essay is a good chance to experiment with your creative side and not use the typical five-paragraph essay. Do not get put off from using this style but it's not a guaranteed winner for success.
It’s worth comparing the essay to a sandwich, so for example, the introduction and conclusion are the slices of bread and the filling is whatever you put between them. So it's worth noting a bad sandwich will have no bread, but an excellent sandwich could have multiple fillings.
Firstly craft a clear a well-presented introduction that informs the reader where you want to go with the essay and introduce the subject in an interesting way. (Think about using a “hook”)
Then the conclusion should wrap up everything up nicely and leave the audience with a sense of completion as this is what they take away with them after reading the essay.
The “filling” or bulk of the essay can be approached however you like. You could, for example, structure your essay like a narrative and point out an important event from your life story to relate to. An extended analogy could be used and in each paragraph is part of the analogy. It is worth keeping to the wise path of each paragraph carries an identifiable idea, so it is a worthwhile try to escape the five-paragraph essay.
Pros and Cons
Here are some extra tips to spice up your college application essay:
You have spent a lot of time and effort crafting your essay so don't forget to include the relevant contact information like your ID number and name.
Don't be tempted to use an existing college application template as this can make your essay sound bland, which is the worst thing! Do check out plenty of sample essays to get some ideas.
Do get someone else to review your work. It can be a colleague or professional but be prepared for criticism as it can be difficult but necessary to improve.
Don't lose focus and be specific to how the question relates to your personal qualities, and then target that approach. Don’t use vague language and drift off topic.
Try to be as creative as possible, this is the perfect time to pick an angle that best reflects your creative side.
Be honest as this best shows who you are, and try not to write what you think the admissions officer wants to read.
Need Extra Help?
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