Tips to Tackle Your Application Essay with Confidence

October 15, 2014

Admission counselors and faculty read hundreds, often thousands, of student essays during the application review process. Make yours stand out for all the right reasons — show us why YOU are a perfect match for CIM.


The CIM application essay question requires a response that is 500-750 words long. Here are some tips for making every word count!

  • To get started — get started! Sometimes getting your creative juices flowing is the hardest part. Begin by brainstorming a list of highlights, then put them in order from the most important to the least. Just like that you have a writing plan.
  • Be an original. Your essay needs to be a reflection of you. Skip clichés and avoid restating basic facts that are easily included elsewhere in the application.
  • Put yourself in OUR shoes. Imagine you’re an admission counselor or teacher reading your essay. What does it tell you about the student? Does it say enough about the person and musician?
  • One size DOES NOT fit all. It may be tempting to write one essay and change a few details or the school’s name, but the point is to tell us why CIM is a good fit for you and vice versa.
  • Eradicate errors. Proofread, then ask someone you trust to proofread your essay AGAIN before you hit submit.

    Here are a few bonus proofreading tricks:

    1. Produce your essay in a word processing program with spelling and grammar checking features rather than typing directly into an application form. Not only can it catch blatant typos, it will help you keep track of word count. That said, don’t rely solely on software for finding typing, spelling or grammar errors.
    2. Print a version to read on paper. For whatever reason, it is often easy to miss simple mistakes when you’re proofing something on screen only. Walk away for a while, then…
    3. Read it aloud. Going the extra step of reading your essay out loud will help you find any awkward sentences of transitions.
    4. Work your way UPStarting at the end and “reading” backwards helps you find typos that are real words but not the ones you meant to use(note: spellcheck won’t flag correctly spelled words).

One final tip — do yourself a favor and START TODAY.  Waiting till the last minute just adds unnecessary pressure. Rushing also makes you less likely to write an essay that genuinely represents you as an individual and artist and more likely to miss typos or grammar mistakes.

Of course, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email us at or call to speak with an admission counselor at 216.795.3107.

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