Tips for writing your college essay

Get a head start on your college search this summer by perfecting your college admissions essay

Tips for writing your college essay

College essay tips

College admissions officers recruit students who demonstrate sincere interest in attending their college. Your essay about the college must include details that convey your passion about the school.

When admissions officers decide who best fits into the on-campus community, they ask themselves, “Would I want to be this person’s roommate?” or “Would I want to sit in the dining hall and eat dinner with this person?” and “What will this student offer to classroom discussions?”

Make your intellectual curiosity shine through. Share facts about yourself that they cannot know from other parts of your application.

Here are some other tips for preparing a stellar college essay.

Show (don’t tell) your story
Everyone loves a good story. If you want to tell about a compelling experience, focus on the moment that made the difference.

By delving into your soul and revealing who you are, the admissions officers will get to know you better. A good storyteller can make even a mundane or simple situation seem exciting and thought provoking. The heart of the essay resides in the details. Bring the reader along with you on the journey your essay depicts.

Make every sentence count
Edit, edit, edit. Say what you want to say and that’s it. Admissions officers will stop reading a boring, redundant or off-topic essay.

The “perfect essay” does not exist
Do not choose a topic you think admissions officers expect or one you think will impress them. You do not need to tell the readers how you plan to change the world.

Remember that no one is perfect—and college admissions officers know this.
Some applicants avoid sharing their challenges for fear that admissions officers will perceive them as weak. But, admissions officers want to read your story. Your experiences and reaction to them tell the admissions officers so much more than test scores or grades every can. Take a risk and be honest.

Use evidence and avoid generalizations
When you reference any adjective that describes you or mentions an experience, offer anecdotes as support.

Abide by the word limit
Do not choose your college application as the opportunity to rebel. Ignoring the word limit could send the admissions officers the wrong message.

Perfect your grammar
Use active voice throughout the essay. Avoid spelling and grammatical mistakes. Have a grammar expert pick apart your essay before you submit it.

Do it yourself
Write your own essay. Parents, independent counselors or friends should not write your essay for you. Admissions officers know the grades you received in English and they can download your SAT and ACT essays and compare them with your application essay. Do not try to deceive admissions officers.

Try to make the reader laugh or cry
College admissions officers will attest to the fact that most college admissions essays do not stand out. However, essays that compel them to laugh or cry rank among the most noteworthy; if an essay conveys your genuine feelings, then that will shine through and affect the reader.

We hope you have enjoyed these college essay tips!

Ellen Richards, of Ellen Richards Educational Services, Inc. ( specializes in private academic tutoring, test preparation and admissions support.


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