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On Writing the College Application Essay
                                                         -Harry Bauld

Buy the book

This is essentially a book about writing and in my opinion one of the better books on application essays. A good buy if you have some time for essay-writing, the book has an informal yet reassuringly professional style. Mr. Bauld offers writing tips such as keeping a notebook of observations, warm-up strategies, writing exercises and (thankfully!) dealing with writer's block. He also talks about less-frequently addressed aspects like finding good readers, getting into the right frame of mind and knowing what you want to convey. The section on style and tone is remarkably good, and the strategies and mistakes mentioned in the book are well illustrated in the sample essays. Finally, a few pieces by famous essayists are inspiring reading as well as a break from the tension of applying!

Writing A Winning College Application Essay
                                       -Wilma Davidson & Susan McCloskey

Buy the book

Almost everything this book has to say is immediately followed up with examples through sample essays. Hence the book has an unusually large number of essays, and it's quite unlikely that a reader won't follow any of the points that authors are trying to make. Also, we found the part featuring suggestions on how to make a lively essay out of an over-wrought topic quite interesting. So if your prospective college has asked you to describe an average day in your life, this may be the book to consult. And there's also a 'writer's survival kit', with loads of writing issues that all essay authors should look out for.

How to Write a Winning College Application Essay
                                                          -Michael James Mason

Buy the book

Among other things, Mr. Mason has devoted an entire chapter to the kind of lists all applicants should write. One example suggested is "list three virtues that you admire and respect". While this is all very nice for applicants trying to find their true selves, it may prove a bit tiresome for those in a hurry. The book is redeemed, however, by a nice little set of 'do's and don'ts' that make for some useful reading. Undergraduate applicants may find the section on the writing test part of the SAT II test useful. In short, undergrads and applicants with time on their hands can make the most of what this book has to offer. The rest may want to pass on it.

Writing a Successful College Application Essay
                                                          -George Ehrenhaft

Buy the book

Sprinkled with a liberal amount of quotes and reviews from admissions officers, this book provides a good idea of the reasoning behind admission decisions for undergraduate courses. Aspects which would appeal to graduate applicants as well are:
The section on elements of style, each point illustrated with examples of awkward and effective writing
The frequent essay reviews, providing an insight into the evaluation process
A large number of short paragraphs devoted to real-life, winning essay ideas - a good tool to spark off your own creativity
The section on essays in progress that offers critiques and suggestions for succeeding drafts

Arco - the Best College Admission Essays
                           - Mark Alan Stewart and Cynthia C. Muchnik.

Buy the book

Book contains excellent short section on insights, cliched ideas, suggestions for offbeat topics and treatments, and a useful long list of "Do's and Don'ts".  The 'best' college admission essays are just that - split up by topic and type, these undergraduate essays are a good read when you are looking for material to unlock your own creative writing skills.

On writing your College Admissions Essay
                           - Gerald Newman and Eleanor Weintraub Newman

(Out of print)

Buy the book

If you like to use tools for organizing and want to go about writing youressay in a very systematic manner, this book could be for you. It dissects the admissions essay and offers tips on each part. The core of the book is an autobiographical outline and inventory chart, to be used to collect examples and incidents for your own essay. There is also a good chapter on glaring pitfalls to avoid, illustrated with plenty of examples. The book looks at ALL admissions correspondence with schools - to this end, it has a chapter on letters and short essays. And, like most admissions essay guides, this book is slanted towards the undergraduate applicant - graduates might find parts too simplistic.

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