QOTD: What do you think is the best measure for intelligence?
At some point during your life, you will find yourself in a situation in which you will have to apply for something--perhaps a job, college, scholarships, or even a higher position at work. I hope you find these four key steps I've listed below to be a beneficial and encouraging guide towards making your application stick out from all the rest.
1. Avoid wordiness, and vary your sentence structure. Cut out any unnecessary phrases that might be 1) stating the obvious, 2) repetitious of another similar phrase you wrote, or 3) is less than flattering/doesn't help your case. Every word in your application should have a purpose. That being said, vary your syntax and diction use--try not to use an adjective (such as "enthusiastic" or "inspiring" or "transforming") more than twice and avoid using the same phrase more than once. If you have to, paraphrase or reword a sentence. Also, try not to use useless words like "very, extremely, hardly, etc." Get the point and be straightforward.
2. Remember, when you are filling out an application, you are selling yourself. Don't feel like you need to be too modest or timid, but at the same time don't come off as arrogant or snooty. Tell the truth without exaggerating. For instance, don't say "I often try to stay positive during hard situations as best as I can." Instead, say "I am a positive person, and always focus on keeping a positive outlook when I am faced with a difficult situation." This shows that you have a sense of confidence and truly packs a punch. Application readers remember and are impressed by applicants who know and recognize their strengths and play at them.
3. Use your anecdotes wisely. Anecdotes are a great way for you to make your application unique. Just as every word should have a purpose, every anecdote you use should too. They should tell something about yourself and who you are in terms of values, personality, and/or preferences. However, in an essay, an anecdote should only be a third of the essay, and the other two-thirds should be focused on providing reasoning and persuasion of why the readers should pick you, using your anecdote as an example and as proof to help you back up what you say.
4. As closely as you can without going insane, pay attention to the little things. This not only includes making sure your spelling and grammar is correct, but also the format. If your application ends up being two pages and two sentences, you should eliminate those last two so that your entire paper takes up two neat little pages. You don’t want any tails hanging on at the end, printed on yet another brand new page with the rest being occupied by white space. Same with sentences--try to avoid trailing tails. Be consistent when you bold/italicize/underline and make sure you have no careless mistakes such as extra spaces between words or the absence of a period at the end of a sentence. This may seem really nit-picky, but it can really irk readers to find an easily avoidable error that "pops out" and takes away their attention from what's important--your application.