How to Write the College Application Essay: Tips from a College Student

Completing college applications can be a stressful and time consuming task. It seems like one small application can decide your future, and in a way it does.

For that reason, it’s important that you put effort into your application essay so that you can showcase your experiences and who you are. Here are some tips to help you write the perfect college application essay.

Brag About Yourself

This is one of the few times in your life that you can talk about how great you are and people won’t get mad at you. So, talk yourself up! Talk about all of your leadership experience, job experience, your awesome grades, your community service contributions, and whatever else makes you look good! You want the people who are reading your essay to know that you are well-rounded and have plenty of life experience to bring to their college campus.

If you have a story or an experience that sets yourself apart from others, you should talk about too. The goal is that you stand out from other applicants and that you bring something different to the table.

For example, in one of my college application essays I talked about how I traveled to Europe and how the airline lost my luggage for a week while I was there. By talking about that, I showed that I could live in a foreign country with nothing but the clothes on my back, that I’m a world traveler and adventurous, and that I can handle conflict well. You can say all of these things without actually saying them though. You can show them your characteristics by telling your story rather than just telling them.

Stay Focused

While writing a college application essay, it is easy to get off track and to stray away from the main point. Remember to stay true to the prompt and try to answer what it’s asking to the best of your ability.

Spell Check

Rest assured that typos, spelling and grammar mistakes will be noticed by college admissions officers and will be used against you. In addition to using spell check on your computer try reading your essay out loud. This will often help you discover typos, missing words or sentences that don’t make sense.   

Have Another Person Read It

Fresh eyes always help while writing an essay. If you have a teacher or parent go through and look at your essay, they might be able to pick up on things that you don’t see and make corrections. You should also ask them for their opinion on what they think you should add or take out, that way you can have an opinion other than your own.

Be Yourself

One could argue that being yourself is the most important part of writing your college essay. The main goal of your application as a whole should be for the college to get to know you as a person. For that reason, you should make sure that you use your voice in your essay and to put your own personality in it. It’s okay to use humor or to be a little silly if that’s your personality, or to maybe be a bit more serious if that’s more your style.

College admissions officers read hundreds of essays, and they can spot someone who is being inauthentic or exaggerating. Don’t try to tell a dramatic story simply because you think it will help you get in. Stay true to yourself and write about something you’re truly passionate about and interested in.

All in all, the best tip I could give to you for making sure you write the best essay possible is to tell your story and to be 100% yourself while doing it.