10 Do's and Don'ts for writing your application essay

By Stephanie Hill
Associate Director of Admission

When you apply to an independent school you can expect writing to be a part of the process. Schools may ask for one of three essays: an essay as part of the application; an impromptu writing sample; or the submission of a graded essay. By providing samples of your writing, you are giving schools a window into your abilities, your style, and your personality.

Santa Catalina School requires two forms of writing during the application process. As part of the interview process, you will complete a writing sample. Catalina will provide the prompt. As part of your application in the SAO (Standard Application Online), you will also complete the Student Essays. These essays are designed to help schools get to know you better.

Now that you know what is required, and why, here’s some advice on what to do and what to avoid:
 
Catalina’s 5 Essay Writing DO's

  1. Write from the heart. Share what is most important to you. The admission committee can tell when you are not being genuine.
  2. Make corrections and re-read your essay for mistakes. Proofread, proofread, proofread.
  3. Be specific. Instead of using broad statements such as “I traveled through Paris,” use statements like, “While traveling through Paris, I tried the three major food groups: bread, cheese, and pastries.”
  4. Write about something you care about.
  5. Follow the directions carefully.

Catalina’s 5 Essay Writing DON’Ts

  1. Do not let someone else write your essay. Your parents or teachers can help proofread your essay, but they should not write your essay. Remember, we are trying to get to know you.
  2. Do not stray from the topic. Keep it focused and don’t deviate from the prompt.
  3. Do not copy and paste information without properly citing your source. Do not commit plagiarism in your essay.
  4. Do not pretend to be someone you are not. Be your authentic self.
  5. Do not write less or more than the suggested word count. If the range for word count is 250-500 words, we recommend you write somewhere in the middle.

The most important part of the essay is for you to be yourself! Put your best foot forward using the tips above and you are set up for success.