How to Craft a College Application Essay

How to Craft a College Application Essay

Approaching the essay portion of a college application can seem daunting and intimidating. However, if you give yourself time and edit your essay over several drafts, you can create a meaningful and well-articulated essay that will impress readers in the admissions office. Here are some tips on getting started:

  • Tell a story about yourself that will give the admissions office a sense of who you are.
  • Keep it simple, and keep it short. There is no need to write a novel, and admissions people read thousands of essays

  • Write it yourself. Your parents may want to help, but they won't be attending college. Plus, you may be asked about your essay by the admissions team in an interview. If you can't articulate similarly to the tone of your essay, that might raise some flags in their mind.

  • Use your own voice. This is not the time to experiment with styles you never use - so writing in rhyme, using humor, or satire can be very difficult, and are probably not the best way to go.

  • Throw away the Thesaurus. Using big words doesn’t mean you’re smart. Use words you actually use in real life.

  • Don’t write about the Human Genome Project. Choose something you really know about. Admissions people want to learn something about you.

  • While it’s tempting to write about a hero, be careful. Sometimes you end up telling all about the hero, and nothing about yourself.

  • Don’t make simple mistakes. Typos, misspelled words, and grammar mistakes really do matter.

  • Boastful doesn’t mean smart.

  • You don’t need to have had adversity in your life to write a compelling essay.

  • You don’t need a big accomplishment to write about in your essay to impress the admissions office.

  • Small details added to the essay can be the most revealing.

  • Don’t sit down to write the night before the essay is due. It doesn’t have to be a Pulitzer Prize winner, but it does have to be thoughtful.

  • Start looking at the questions well in advance. Thoughtfully answering the “why” or “how” of the questions is the most important.

  • Don’t over-worry it.

Last Updated: April 22, 2015