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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.
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.
Often, writers start out with generalizations as a way to get to the really meaningful statements, and that’s OK.
Just make sure that you replace the generalizations with examples as you revise.
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.
By simply talking about those events in your own voice, you put the emphasis on you rather than the event or idea.
Look at this anecdote: During the night shift at Wirth Memorial Hospital, a man walked into the Emergency Room wearing a monkey costume and holding his head. One of the nurses ascertained that he had been swinging from tree branches in a local park and had hit his head when he fell out of a tree.
Your readers may have thousands of essays to read, many or most of which will come from qualified applicants.
This essay may be your best opportunity to communicate with the decision makers in the application process, and you don’t want to bore them, offend them, or make them feel you are wasting their time.