4 Ways To Use Your Experience As An ESL Student In Your College Essays

Your college essay is the best way to stand out from all the other applicants out there. It’s a way to show that you’re unique and that you can bring something new to the college you’re hoping to attend. As an ESL student, you have a lot that makes you different. 

Your personal experience moving to a different country and learning the language as well as all the other subjects needed at school shows you’re an academic natural. Here’s how you can use that to secure that college place. 

1. Ensure Your Story Is Unique To You

The problem with many college admissions essays is that they are often generic.  That’s true, even of students who are ESL students. “While you may have come to a new country and learned a new language like other students, that doesn’t mean that your story is the same,” says Melissa Peterson, an academic writer with PhD Writing and Paper Fellows. “You need to find what makes your story unique, and start there.”

Think about the specific challenges that you faced. What did you have to overcome in order to succeed? Did you find a new passion when you came to your new school? How did you achieve academic success? The answer is different for everyone, so use your story to your advantage. 

2. Hone In On A Specific Topic

You only have so many words to work with, so you’re not going to be able to tell your life story. When you start writing, you’ll think that everything’s important, and so you’ll want to include everything. The trick is to find the most important part of the story and focus on that. 

For example, perhaps you want to write about winning an award at school, after starting to study there with little or no English skills yet. It’s tempting to want to write about your first day there, the struggles you faced, and how you overcame them. You just don’t have space for that, though. Instead, find the most important point where you were able to succeed. 

In this example, it could be the science class where you signed up to participate. After all your hard work, you were confident enough to sign up and it paid off in the form of the award. Find that topic and narrow it down, so you’re only focusing on the most important part of the story you’re telling. 

3. Understand Your Goals

The main goal of a college essay is to have the admissions team accept you. However, you also want to think about how you want the team to perceive you. What do you want them to see of you? 

Most college students will want to put across that they are hard-working and dependable. These are smart goals, but remember that your grades are already doing a lot of that work for you. Instead, you can focus on another part of your personality that will help you secure that place. 

“That’s where you can focus on your experience as an ESL student,” says educational blogger Charlie Morgan, from Essay Services and Boom Essays. “You can use these experiences to show how you deal with challenge and adversity.”

4. Proofread And Edit

It doesn’t matter how compelling your story is, if you don’t proofread and edit your essay it won’t be considered. You don’t want to accidentally leave spelling errors in there, or realise that there’s an important part missing once you send the essay off. 

Once you’ve written it, leave it for a couple of days. That way, you can come back to it with fresh eyes. Make sure that you’ve written the essay in your own tone, rather than a more formal, academic one. Also look to see if the essay flows and gets your point across clearly. 

You should have another person read over your essay too, as others can spot issues that you’ve missed. Ask a trusted teacher or counselor to take a look at it for you. As an ESL student, you’re in a unique position when it comes to college essays. Use your story in your writing, and show your college of choice that you’re just the kind of student that they’re looking for. 

Emily Henry is an education writer with Academized and Assignment Help, where she covers tips and advice for students. She’s also a tutor for Ox Essays.