College Admissions

Thinking About Organization in an Application Essay

An application essay must be well-organized to capture the attention of the admissions committee. An essay which rambles, changes topics in the middle of a discussion, fails to complete a thought or to respond fully to a prompt is not a well-organized application essay.

How you organize your application essay is as important as what you write in response to the prompt.

Application Essays Need to be Organized

In order to be effective, application essays need to be organized. Sometimes it is difficult enough to think of what to write, without worrying about the best way to organize the information in your application essay.

  • Catchy introduction. Use an anecdote or a story which shows why you are interested in pursuing your major or degree program. This can be a story which highlights the first time you thought of teaching biology, being a nurse or doctor, dancing professionally, directing films or becoming a registered dietitian.
  • Paragraph which explains your background (academic, personal) and the connection between your background and your choice of major or degree program.
  • Develop the inspiration and what you hope to study to achieve your dream of a career.
  • List courses or professors who may teach the classes you want to take to pursue your goals.
  • Define your long term and short term goals. This paragraph and the one above could be flipped to extend the idea of choosing goals first, then selecting courses, rather than the other way.
  • Conclusion. The conclusion is as important as the introduction when creating application essays. Remind the reader of what you have told them. Ideally, you can link your opening paragraph to your concluding paragraph. If you tell a story in the introduction about being inspired by a nurse who took care of you in the hospital when you were a child, perhaps you have your own story about wanting to care for other children in need, if you hope to get an advanced degree in nursing. This is merely an example of how an application essay can come “full circle,” when telling a story line. Keeping the theme intact is extremely important in constructing an application essay.

Use the outline above with its suggested ideas to devise your own organized application essay.

Remember that all application essays should be organized by ideas, timeframes, subjects or goals.

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