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Applications that have several short-answer essays require even more detail.
Now that you’ve generated some ideas, get a little bit pickier.
It’s time to remember one of the most significant aspects of the application essay: your audience.
You may want to start by just getting something—anything—on paper. Think about the questions we asked above and the prompt for the essay, and then write for 15 or 30 minutes without stopping.
What do you want your audience to know after reading your essay? Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, organization, or anything else. For help getting started, see our handout on brainstorming. Find the most relevant, memorable, concrete statements and focus in on them.
Eliminate any generalizations or platitudes (“I’m a people person”, “Doctors save lives”, or “Mr.
Calleson’s classes changed my life”), or anything that could be cut and pasted into anyone else’s application.
With this in mind: Imagine the worst-case scenario (which may never come true—we’re talking hypothetically): the person who reads your essay has been in the field for decades.
She is on the application committee because she has to be, and she’s read 48 essays so far that morning.
Find what is specific to you about the ideas that generated those platitudes and express them more directly.
Eliminate irrelevant issues (“I was a track star in high school, so I think I’ll make a good veterinarian.”) or issues that might be controversial for your reader (“My faith is the one true faith, and only nurses with that faith are worthwhile,” or “Lawyers who only care about money are evil.”).