Like most other things, writing an essay is a skill. Unfortunately, for nursing students, it is skill that is all too often neglected. Some would-be nurses do not view it as a critical part of the application process compared to their academic record or extracurricular activities. This could not be further from the truth. With nursing school applicants increasing on a yearly basis, student credentials are becoming more bunched up at every level. A well-written essay gives the student an opportunity to differentiate themselves from the competition and stand out to the admissions officer or committee. Proper preparation towards writing this essay can mean the difference between getting an acceptance letter or a rejection letter from the college of choice. Here are some tips that will help you maximize your opportunity to wow the admissions officer with your essay.
The first thing is to plan out what you are going to write. There are some famous authors in history (i.e. Tolkien) who are famous for just putting pen to paper and writing as their thoughts came to them, not completely sure where the plot is going to lead. This is NOT a good strategy for an admissions essay. Typically, the nursing applicant is going to be dealing with some kind of space restrictions (i.e. 1000 words or less). This makes careful planning even more critical. I suggest starting with an outline to organize your points and develop your essay. This ensures that you know where the piece is going and do not deviate too far from the primary topic. Many would be surprised how often these essays are built on tangents rather than supporting points.
Building on that last statement, tip number two is to make sure your points flow together and support a clearly stated thesis that addresses the topic for discussion. Admissions officers are not only interested in how you write; they also want to see how you think. Many nursing students will combine a series of points and let the underlying crux of their essay be implied. This is a huge mistake. In the first two paragraphs, clearly state what your main point is, and then use the rest of the essay to back up that point.
Now, those thoughts are very important, but also a bit generic and can be applied to any admissions essay. There are still some specific aspects that nursing students should focus on more than those delving into other fields. Consider the aspects that would make a good nurse and work those into your piece. For example, if you can support your thesis with a story of helping people or showing leadership or working well under pressure, I would highly recommend that you do so. But be careful! Do not go down a tangential point just to build yourself up. If the topic deals specifically with nursing, showing that you have a passion to becoming a nurse would be extremely valuable as well. Admissions officers are like job hirers – they want people who are extremely motivated for what they are offering.
My final point is, while incorporating the previous points into your essay, be yourself. Ultimately, this is an opportunity to put yourself out there. Represent yourself as accurately as possible. If that is not what this school is looking for, then it probably wasn’t a great fit to begin with. But if you are accepted, then you can feel confirmation that they want you for who you are.
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