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Every college admissions officer has to read hundreds — sometimes even thousands — of prospective student essays each year. The real question every applicant finds him- or herself pondering is “how do I stand out to my admissions officer?” The solution to one of the biggest problems of our generation lies within itself: you are the answer. As cliché as it sounds, the easiest way to wow the admissions officer is to be yourself, and where better to find your raw self other than your diary? Many of the most honest college essays stem from realizations first recognized in diary entries; the following gives you a guide on how to transform a quality rant into a quality statement of self.

The first step is to pick your poison. By pick your poison, I mean find a passage that fits the prompt. This can be one of the most difficult parts because you’re being asked to choose the 500 best words you’ve ever written in a late-night diary entry that describes you. When chewing your eraser in the depths of your indecisiveness, you may want to ponder over days in your diary in which you have considered your future goals.

If an entry discusses your potential of becoming a doctor, volunteering overseas, or playing softball in college, that may be the passage. If none of these stick out to you or you’re not sure how you want your future to play out, then find a passage of inspiration. Maybe your reflection of a conversation you had with a homeless woman made you passionate about pursuing an education to help yourself and others. The key here is not to write about the grandest time in your life. Usually when your essay is humble, you sound more enlightened and well-rounded.

No matter which passage you pick, make sure you’re satisfied with how it’s representing you. Another factor that you may want to look out for is fitting exactly what the prompt is asking you. Sometimes diary entries are not the answer to “How do you compare apples and oranges?” from the University of Chicago’s application last year. The best prompt to utilize a diary entry for is the main statement of self or a prompt that asks about your future goals in college or a career. No matter which passage you pick, make sure you’re satisfied with how it’s representing you.

More times than not, diary entries are not winners of Nobel Peace Prizes without a little work. Typically, diary entries consist of ya knows, I means, and other phrases of colloquial speaking. Deleting or editing those would give your paper more of a professional edge. Ethnic phrases-usually in any other language-can be an asset to your paper though, giving it more style.

This relates to the next tip: watch out for referring to things common to you, but foreign to others. Referring to your best friend by first name won’t mean anything to the admissions officer without an explanation. Regional things such as stores or traditions also sometimes warrant an explanation. If anything in your entry may be confusing to an outside reader, be safe rather than sorry and offer a little background information. Detail gives the paper flavor. The final, most common errors to watch out for are grammatical mistakes. Have teachers, family, and friends proofread your paper multiple times. Even the most innocent mistakes can steal the awe from an amazing essay. Editing your paper not once, not twice, but at least three times is one of the only ways to be confident about your entry.

Transforming a monumental diary entry into a college essay is one of the most honest and easiest ways to beat the essay blues. You are gifting the admissions officer with a genuine piece of you from your own diary. The final draft may vary greatly from the original, but the most important part is that you are happy with what the essay ultimately says about you as a person.

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