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How to Write a College App Essay

EXPERT: Christopher Watson, dean of enrollment at Northwestern University

Illustration by John Kenzie
Illustration: John Kenzie

Don’t make it a résumé

“It’s not a brag sheet. It’s about breathing life into the pages and letting us know more about you.”

Be authentic

“Write as if you’re having a conversation with a friend, a teacher, or a relative and want them to know something that’s very important to you.”

Opine appropriately

“Sometimes taking controversial political stances can sound like you are repeating what Mom or Dad says at the dinner table. Seventeen-year-olds shouldn’t complain about their taxes.”

Proofread it

“Glaring grammatical errors are definitely noticed. They speak to the fact that you may have rushed or not cared.”

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