How to Write a Great College Application Essay, writing a college admission essay.

Writing a college admission essay

A college application essay is usually around 500 words, and those words can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection. You will spend many days researching and crafting your essay, but admissions officers will only have a few minutes to actually read it, so you need to get their attention.

That means that every time you want to express an idea, you don’t simply state a fact, but you also include specific details and examples to develop your ideas. You can do that by offering examples from your personal experiences and writing about what truly motivates you and how you developed a certain belief.

Admissions officers go through thousands of applications a year, so it’s only logical that they will notice those that bring a unique personality to life. Let them discover that!

Universities are looking for authenticity and quality of thinking, so don’t try to shape your essay around phrases or ideas that people have used many times before, but base it on your genuine beliefs.

1. Read the instructions carefully

Writing a college admission essay

After you’ve read through the instructions a few times and gathered your notes, you can start creating an outline to organize your essay and decide what message you want to send. Now you're ready to write your first draft.

Remember that there are thousands of others students applying to your desired university, and you need to distinguish yourself. Re-read your essay, delete all the sentences that sound like a cliché, and try to find a more original angle.

They say starting the essay is the hardest part. You may think it’s redundant to mention that you need to read the instructions carefully, but with all the excitement and stress that characterizes this period of your life, it needs to be highlighted.

Writing a college admission essay

It doesn’t need to be an incredibly long essay – just long enough to make a short description of what you have achieved and what you want to do when you go to college or university. Try to share something important that sets you apart from the rest. Or you can contact some writing services and tell them, “I need statistics homework help.”

It shouldn’t be a laudatory ode to your talents, but you still need to talk about the benefits and goals you can achieve here. Use a writing service like PaperCoach to make this easier. The fact is that not all students are ready to delve so deeply into creating such a paper, and it can be very tedious. Third-party help will allow you to reduce the time it takes to prepare your essay.

You must show your interest to the college or university admission officers, as this is very important to any student. It’s best to focus your attention only on your grades, extracurricular activities and past achievements. You need to describe your goals and ambitions that you’re pursuing. Think about what is best to convey to the admission committee. The fact is that such an essay is a kind of advertisement for you as a future student.

This aspect is very important since you should fully concentrate on what goals this essay pursues. Typically, you will have to answer a question from the admissions committee for your purposes, think about how it might apply to you and describe why you are the ideal candidate.

Get to Know Your Prompt

Another point you need to focus on is your story. Choose those moments that will help you stand out from the crowd and establish yourself as a person who seeks knowledge and wants to learn more than anyone.

The fact is that when you have enough ideas, you can concentrate on the best one. You also need to narrow your options and choose those thoughts that will help you write a good essay and demonstrate you as a diligent student seeking knowledge.

A good paper starts with an outline. Then you can concentrate on all the important aspects, develop your own strategy and stick to a certain writing style. You need to plan out all of your writing stages so that it looks logical and consistent. The fact is that the college or university committee has clear quality standards that you must comply with.

Writing a college admission essay

Both of these intros set up the general topic of the essay (the first writer's bookshelf and and the second's love of Jane Eyre) in an intriguing way. The first intro works because it mixes specific descriptions ("pushed against the left wall in my room") with more general commentary ("a curious piece of furniture"). The second draws the reader in by adopting a conversational and irreverent tone with asides like "if you ask me" and "This may or may not be a coincidence."

A second approach is the thematic structure, which is based on returning to a key idea or object again and again (like the boots example above):

Your essay should ultimately have a very narrow focus. 650 words may seem like a lot, but you can fill it up very quickly. This means you either need to have a very specific topic from the beginning or find a specific aspect of a broader topic to focus on.

Unexpected or slightly unusual topics are often the best: your passionate love of Korean dramas or your yearly family road trip to an important historical site. You want your essay to add something to your application, so if you're an All-American soccer player and want to write about the role soccer has played in your life, you'll have a higher bar to clear.

The Specific Generalization

Writing a college admission essay

In terms of important events, Eva's parents got divorced when she was three and she's been going back and forth between their houses for as long as she can remember, so that's a big part of her personal story. She's also played piano for all four years of high school, although she's not particularly good.

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If you're struggling or uncertain, try taking a look at some examples of successful college essays. It can be helpful to dissect how other personal statements are structured to get ideas for your own, but don't fall into the trap of trying to copy someone else's approach. Your essay is your story—never forget that.

Everyone has their own writing process. Maybe you feel more comfortable sitting down and writing the whole draft from beginning to end in one go. Maybe you jump around, writing a little bit here and a little there. It's okay to have sections you know won't work or to skip over things you think you'll need to include later.

Writing a college admission essay

Choose a topic you can be honest about. If you’re not being genuine, it will end up coming through in your writing. So don’t write about how much your membership in Youth Group meant to you if you only went to make your mom happy and you actually didn’t care that much.

The most important quick thing you can do for your essay is to make sure there are no typos or grammatical errors. It will make your essay look sloppy and unfinished, and that’s the last thing you want! College admissions officers expect a polished product, and there’s nothing less polished than misspelled words and comma splices.

And, of course, the more essays you have to write, the earlier you should start!

Here are two quick but essential college essay tips you can implement easily.

The Right Topic

Writing a college admission essay

The first thing you’ll need to do is identify all the essays you’ll need to write and their deadlines. It may help you to make a spreadsheet with the essay guidelines for each school, the word count, the prompts, the due date, and any special instructions. This will help you figure out:

In a narrative format, you’ll be relating a particular anecdote or experience and what it means to you. In a thematic format, you’ll present a particular theme—say, your love of parakeets or your secret talent for balancing books on your head—and expound on that theme in a descriptive way to reveal more about you and your personality.

Whatever you write about should be primarily about you. You should be the focal point. Even if you’re writing about someone who has influenced you, for example, you need to relate it back to yourself. What does this tell admission officers about you?

Writing a college admission essay

The details in your Feelings and Needs columns can be spread throughout the essay. And it’s important to note that it’s useful to discuss some of your feelings and needs directly, but some will be implied.

If you’re still uncertain, don’t worry. I’ll help you decide what to focus on. But, for the sake of this blog post, answer those first two questions with a gut-level response.

I’ve been known to have terrible spatial awareness despite being a dancer. Just last week, my shoelace got caught in an escalator and I tripped about 20 people.

What She Did About It: The author developed a radio persona called Sher Khan, attended a summer course on human rights, founded an organization dedicated to youth activism, wrote articles on restrictive blasphemy laws and the forced repatriation of refugees, and probably other things that weren’t even mentioned.

The Feelings and Needs Exercise

Writing a college admission essay

Challenges: Domestic abuse, alcoholic step-dad, little brother Fernando’s birth, family’s undocumented status

I became a pescatarian this year to avoid fried chicken, and I can honestly get a life’s worth of meat out of cod, salmon, tilapia, shrimp, you name it.

If you’re writing a “Why I want to be an engineer” essay, for example, what 3-5 common “engineering” values might other students have mentioned in connection with engineering? Use the Values Exercise for ideas.

A: For sure. Say you’re interested in becoming a doctor, but you’re applying to a medical program with a supplemental prompt asking why you want to become a doctor. If you want to avoid repetition, you might not explicitly mention becoming a doctor at the end of your personal statement (you don’t have to discuss your career at all in a personal statement


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