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Mastering the Dreaded College Application Essay

The college application process has many components. However, for many students, no component is more terrifying than writing their college essay. Students have good reason to be worried. For many schools, especially smaller colleges, the essay is an integral part of the application. Admission officers use the essay to both form a connection to the applicants and to gauge their writing and intellectual abilities. Luckily, writing a college essay seems more challenging than it actually is. Follow these tips to help write a successful college essay!

1) Start early: It can be difficult to write about yourself. Don’t worry about writing a perfect essay. Instead, spend a little bit of time thinking about the questions. Then jot down the first thoughts that pop into your head. Don’t worry about making mistakes or trying new ideas out. The more you experiment with topics, the better chance you have to find a truly original topic!

2) Research your colleges before writing: Many colleges have supplements to the main essay. Instead of writing a uniform essay for each college, think about ways to make your essay reflect the specific colleges you are applying to.

3) Be yourself: Most college essays end up sounding cliched or boring. Students forget that college admissions officers read thousands and thousands of essays during the college admissions process. They are not likely to be overly impressed by anything you have done; instead, they are far more likely to be impressed by who you are and what you are passionate about. Instead of trying to impress them with you accomplishments, try to connect with them on a personal level.

4) And by yourself, I mean be the real you: Admission officers want to know the real you — not the you that is trying to impress them. With that in mind, write about some part of your life that not many people know about or understand. In the beginning, don’t worry about grammar or sentence structure, just go wherever the writing takes you.

5) Be honest: College admission officers are experts at sniffing out b.s. If your story sounds too good to be true, they will most likely assume it is too good to be true.

6) Be creative: There are no binding requirements about how you have to write your essay. Don’t be afraid to make creative choices. I have even had one admission officer tell me a story about receiving an essay with flowers drawn all along the outside of the page. Because of the flowers, he remembered the essay!

7) Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family for help: Sometimes it can be difficult to write about yourself. Before submitting your essay, have someone you trust read over your writing. Their goal is not to change your essay, but to make sure it “sounds” like you.

8) Edit, edit and edit!: Find someone with experience editing essays to go through the essay with you. Their job is not to change or rewrite the heart of your essay; their job is to make sure your easy reads cleanly and effectively.

If you would like more information about writing college essays, please call or send us an email. Our writing specialists would be more than happy to help guide you through the college essay process!

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