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What makes a standout Princeton University essay?

As I begin writing my Princeton essays, I'm wondering if anyone can provide tips on what makes an essay standout to Princeton admissions? What should I focus on and avoid so my essay doesn't come off as cliche? Any advice would be appreciated.

6 months ago

In order to craft a standout Princeton University essay, it's important to focus on showcasing your authentic self, highlighting your unique qualities and experiences, and demonstrating a strong intellectual curiosity. You can read up on how to do that on CollegeVine's blog, which has a breakdown of each supplemental essay prompt, and updates each year with any new prompts (https://blog.collegevine.com/how-to-write-the-princeton-university-essays).

More generally speaking, here are some tips that will help you write strong essays for Princeton:

1. Be authentic: Share your genuine thoughts and reflections, rather than trying to write what you think the admissions committee wants to hear, as that will make you sound just like everyone else who is taking this approach. Admissions officers seek to understand who you are as a person and what unique perspectives you can bring to the Princeton community.

2. Go deep on your topic: Strive to provide insight into your thought process, values, and aspirations. Choose a topic that allows you to reveal a meaningful aspect of your personality or personal growth. Stay away from cliched topics like sports victories, challenges of moving to a new school, or generic community service experiences. You can read about some more examples of cliche essay topics on CollegeVine's blog: https://blog.collegevine.com/cliche-college-essay-topics.

3. Develop your "spike": As you write, think about what your "spike" is – the highly-developed specialty, talent, or passion that sets you apart from other applicants. Then, think of how you can weave this theme throughout your essays to demonstrate your deep commitment and expertise in that area.

4. Demonstrate intellectual curiosity: Princeton values students who are intellectually curious and eager to explore new ideas. In your essays, showcase how you engage with complex topics or express a passion for learning beyond the classroom.

5. Be specific: Use anecdotes and details to illustrate your points. Supporting examples make your essays more engaging and help them stand out. Mention specific experiences or accomplishments that demonstrate your unique qualities and give the reader a sense of who you are.

6. Be concise: Keep your essays focused and well-organized, and avoid tangential topics or unnecessary information. Be sure to answer the prompt and pay attention to word count limits.

7. Revise and edit: Take the time to revise, edit, and proofread your essays. Make sure your writing flows smoothly, your ideas are clear and well-organized, and there are no grammatical errors. If you want to get a second set of eyes on it, remember that CollegeVine offers both a free peer essay review tool and paid reviews by expert college admissions advisors.

In summary, to create a standout Princeton essay, be authentic, delve deep into your chosen topic, showcase your intellectual curiosity, develop your "spike," use specific examples, stay concise, and thoroughly revise your essay. Doing so will help you to effectively communicate your unique qualities and experiences, and increase your chances of standing out in the competitive Princeton admissions process.

Good luck with your application!

6 months ago

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CollegeVine’s Q&A seeks to offer informed perspectives on commonly asked admissions questions. Every answer is refined and validated by our team of admissions experts to ensure it resonates with trusted knowledge in the field.