Private School Application Essay Tips

8 Things You Need to Know

private school admission essay
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Applying to private school means completing an application, a process with many components. There are short answer questions, forms to fill out, teacher recommendations to collect, standardized tests to take, interviews that need to be scheduled, and an application essay that needs to be written. The essay, for some applicants, can be one of the most stressful parts of the application process. These eight private school application essay tips just might help you produce the best essay you've ever written, which could increase your chances of getting accepted at your dream school.

 

1. Read the directions.

This seems obvious, but hear me out. Reading the directions carefully can help ensure that you accomplish the task at hand. While most directions will be straightforward, you never know if the school is going to ask you to address specific questions within the given topic. Some schools also require that you write more than one essay, and if you just assume you get to pick from the three options when you were actually supposed to write three short essays, well that is certainly a problem. Pay attention to word counts that might be given, too.

2. Be thoughtful in your writing sample.

Leading off from that last sentence of bullet one, pay attention to the requested word count, you need to be thoughtful in how you approach the assignment. Word counts are there for a reason. One, to make sure that you give enough detail to actually say something meaningful. Consider this essay prompt: Who is someone you admire and why? If you simply say, "I admire my mom because she is great," what does that tell your reader?

Nothing useful! Sure, you answered the question, but what thought went into the response? A minimum word count is going to make you actually put some more effort into the details. Make sure that as you write to reach the word count that you aren't just putting random words down that don't add to your essay.

You need to actually put some effort into writing a good story - yes, you're telling a story in your essay. It should be interesting to read. 

Also remember that writing to a specific word count doesn't mean that you should just stop when you hit the required 250 words either. Few schools will penalize you for going over or under a word count slightly but don't obliterate the word count. Schools provide these as guidelines to get you to put in some effort to your work, but also prevent you from going overboard. No admission officer wants to read your 30-page memoir as part of your application, no matter how interesting it may be; honestly, they don't have the time. But, they do want a brief story that helps them get to know you as an applicant. 

3.  Write about something that matters to you.

Most private schools give you an option of essay writing prompts. Don't choose the one that you think you should choose; instead, opt for the writing prompt that most interests you. If you're invested in the topic, passionate about it even, then that will show through in your writing sample. This is your chance to show who you are as a person, share a meaningful experience, memory, dream or hobby, which can set you apart from the other applicants, and that's important.

 

Admission committee members are going to read hundreds, if not thousands, of essays from prospective students. Put yourself in their shoes. Would you want to read the same type of essay over and over? Or would you hope to find an essay from a student that's a little different and tells a great story? The more interested you are in the topic, the more interesting your final product will be for the admission committee to read.  

4. Write Well.

This should be obvious, but it must be stated that this essay should be written well, using proper grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling. Know the difference between your and you're; its and it's; and there, their, and they're. Don't use slang, acronyms, or text-speak. 

5. Write. Edit/Revise. Read it Out Loud. Repeat. 

Don't settle on the first words you put down on paper (or type on your screen).

Read your admission essay carefully, review it, think about it. Is it interesting? Does it flow well? Does it address the writing prompt and answer any questions that were asked? If you need to, make a checklist of things you need to accomplish with your essay and make sure when you review it that you're actually meeting each requirement. To ensure that your essay flows well, a great trick is to read it out loud, even to yourself. If you stumble while reading it out loud or struggle with what you're trying to get across, that's a sign that you need to revise. When you recite the essay, you should easily move from word to word, sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph. 

6. Get a Second Opinion.

Ask a friend, parent or teacher to read your essay and give an opinion. Ask them if it reflects you as a person accurately, and if you truly completed the requirements on your checklist. Did you address the writing prompt and answer any questions that were asked? 

Also get a second opinion on the writing style and tone. Does it sound like you? The essay is your chance to showcase your own unique writing style, tone of voice, personality, and interests. If you write a stock essay that feels cookie cutter and overly formal in nature, the admission committee isn't going to get a clear idea of who you are as an applicant. Make sure the essay you write is genuine. 

7. Make sure the work is truly yours. 

Taking the lead from the last bullet, make sure your essay is genuine. This is extremely important.

Teachers, parents, admission consultants, secondary school counselors, and friends can all weigh in on it, but the writing needs to be 100% yours. Advice, editing, and proofreading are all fine, but if someone else is crafting your sentences and thoughts for you, you're misleading the admission committee. Believe it or not, if your application doesn't accurately reflect you as an individual, you can jeopardize your future at the school. If you apply using an essay you didn't write (and makes your writing skills look better than they actually are), the school will eventually find out. How? Because it's school, and you're eventually going to have to write an essay for your classes. Your teachers will quickly assess your writing abilities and if they don't line up with what you presented in your application, there will be an issue. The private school you've been accepted to may even dismiss you as a student if you're deemed to be dishonest and not capable of managing the academic expectations. 

Basically, applying under false pretenses and passing off someone else's work as yours is a major problem. Using someone else's writing is not only misleading, but can also be considered plagiarism. Don't google sample admission essays and copy what someone else has done. Schools take plagiarism seriously, and starting off your application like this isn't going to help. 

8. Proofread.

Last but not least, proofread, proofread, proofread. Then have someone else proofread. The last thing you want to do is spend all this time and effort to create an awesome private school application essay and then discover that you misspelled a bunch of words or left out a word somewhere and ruin what could have been an awesome essay with some accidental mistakes.

Don't just rely on spellcheck either. The computer recognizes both "that" and "than" as properly spelled words, but they certainly aren't interchangeable. Make sure than, whoops, I meant, that, you have someone proofread your work. 

Good luck!