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10 Tips For Writing A Great College Admission Essay

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by Successful Student Writing Staff / published 4.17.2017 / updated 5.22.2020

10 Tips For Writing A Great College Admission Essay
10 Tips For Writing A Great College Admission Essay

College Admission Essays are an important part of being selected to college in the admission process. Here are 10 tips for how best to accomplish the essay that will help you get accepted.


1.  Start Soon10 Tips For Writing A Great College Admission Essay

Give yourself enough time to tackle the task. The admission essay isn’t terribly time consuming, but you want to not be rushed. Write the draft of the essay, and give yourself time to reflect on it. This time of reflection and thinking about the essay can be the most rewarding. Some content is better than no content. Put something on the page early, and think it over, and make changes without pressure of finishing under an impending deadline.

2. Start with a Brainstorm10 Tips For Writing A Great College Admission Essay

When you brainstorm, you let the subconscious mind give its ideas free rein, and unrestricted liberty of expression. Write down these ideas as they come, so that you can have a record of them, and also so that you can move on to the next idea once the current idea is written. Once the brainstorm is over, categorize the things you’ve written down, into potentially good ideas to develop. Looking at the different ideas, when put together, may make even more interesting ideas emerge, and make you consider things in a new light. It’s up to you to decide what to do with these ideas and topics.

3. Admission Content Strategy10 Tips For Writing A Great College Admission Essay

The essay is not the place to relay your grades. Your g.p.a. will already be factored in before the essay is read by the admissions office. This is the time to write about things unique to you. Things the admissions office doesn’t and can’t already know about you from your application. This is content strategy at work. Take this time to describe yourself and the salient points of your life. The things that make you interesting and unique, such as what you’re in to, and struggles you’ve overcome. In this regard, the admissions office will also get a feel for your personality.

4. Answer the College Application Essay Question 10 Tips For Writing A Great College Admission Essay

When using the Common Application, there will be something specific to answer in your essay. These topics are general and can be written about from anyone’s experience. For example: “Think about a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What initiated your thought? Give an example.”

Be precise in your response, and don’t veer off topic or ramble. Try to answer the question in a unique way, displaying your personality and colored by your story.

5. Give Personal Experiences10 Tips For Writing A Great College Admission Essay

The goal of the personal experiences described in your essay is to show that you’ve reached the level of maturity and competency to thrive in their school. If this is a legacy type of situation, where you have relatives that have gone to that school, you can mention that as well, in such a way that endears the school to your family. It’s possible that schools will be glad to hear how their university has impacted your family.

Another tact could be to explain how the field in which you want to study is important to you because of some prior experience in your life. If you want to study Criminal Justice, and it’s because of some strong sense of justice from some event in your past, explain that.

6. Don’t Over Sell It 10 Tips For Writing A Great College Admission Essay

The goal is to be competent and capable. A person that can write and articulate themselves on level with other bright college students. Don’t ever write outside of your ability. Do not, under any circumstances, use larger than necessary words in order to appear intelligent. This is a shabby and transparent tact that admissions deciders will see right through. The best practice is to sound natural and clear. Admissions offices are smart and read a lot of these essays. Don’t discredit yourself by using unnecessarily complicated language in order to appear intelligent. There is no need.

7. The First Sentence 10 Tips For Writing A Great College Admission Essay

“In a world”, or, “Once upon a time”, are not good openers. Try your best to get the attention of the reader right off the bat. Admissions offices may be quick to stop paying attention if the essay is boring.  There are no rules that are hard and fast. Take the bold move and write something interesting. Make the reader pay attention. Having said that, the first line should be an indication of what the paper is about at large. A kind of summary.

You have the opportunity with the first line to pique curiosity and entice the reader to continue with interest. You could start part of the line with a quote, or a description of a memory.

8. Send Each School A Unique Essay10 Tips For Writing A Great College Admission Essay

The idea is to be the key to their lock, and that you’re conveying a proper fit to their school in particular. As such, send unique essays for every school in which you apply. Imagine that each school has a unique character that you’re aligning yourself with.

This involves learning what the school is about. Read the mission statement if they have one. Understand the school’s culture, and what looms large as seeming important to the school. Read about the history of the school, from foundation to the present. Check out their social media pages. Get the salient aspects of the school into your essay.

9. Be Authentic10 Tips For Writing A Great College Admission Essay

Admissions offices are honed to know if the essay is portraying a person in an authentic way. If it rings false, your chances of getting admitted have fallen. As such, be yourself as much as you can manage. The passion in your writing comes through when its true to you. Besides, this is the exciting part about writing the essay, you get to really let yourself shine.

What you’re describing is unique to you, so it’s perfectly fine to be excited about it and be genuine in your interests.

10. Edit10 Tips For Writing A Great College Admission Essay

Punctuation errors, misspelled words, etc., discounts all of your hard work. There is a word-count requirement, so make sure you stay within it. For the actual content, read each sentence by itself, and see if you can say what you mean with less words, and not being overly wordy. Then read the context, and see if you’re fully conveying what you mean. Use a spell-checker. Give the essay some time after you’ve written it, and come back to it and read it anew. You may see new things with fresh eyes.

10 Tips for Writing a Great College Admission Essay


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