“We should be able to pick your essay up off the floor and know it’s yours.”
– Mary Henry, Communications Manager for Enrollment
Management, Purdue University
I know what you’re thinking. Custom Essays. Introductions opening with rhetorical questions and ending in thesis statements.
Three body paragraphs, each supporting a main idea. A conclusion
that sums it all up with a bow on top. Don’t you dare.
First of all, a custom essay like that, even with the fancy bow, is hardly a “gift” most human beings want to unwrap. Second of all, this is not the kind of custom essay which admissions counselors find helpful.
Sure, formulaic five-paragraph essays have their place— when you’re first learning how to structure an argument as a beginning writer, for instance—but they aren’t the only kinds of custom essays people write.
If you’ve had a chance to read the short custom essays you will have discovered the engaging, surprising world of short personal narratives.
With rare exception, colleges are looking for this kind of storytelling arc in your main personal custom essay, not a cookie-cutter formula. Some of the best essays, according to Todd Iler, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Purdue University, “are written like a movie.”
But, of course, it’s not enough just to tell a story. If you strive to merely entertain your readers, they won’t get a sense of your ability to analyze and reflect upon your experiences, the part of your custom essay that demonstrates your personality, maturity, and fit for the school.
So I do not believe in a college custom essay formula, of course.
But I do believe in some pretty important guidelines. Let’s start with what you should never, ever do.