How to Write a College Application Essay
- January 8, 2020
Are you trying to write your college application essay but don’t know where to start? This post will help you decide what to include in your essay .
What is a college application essay?
Many colleges require you to submit an essay, written by you, as part of your application. They may ask you to respond to a question or prompt. This application essay is your opportunity to show colleges your personality and how you think. You can use the essay to demonstrate what you can bring to a campus and to stand out from other applicants.
Why do you need a college application essay?
Many colleges require an essay from each applicant. The essay is also required on the Common Application, which is used by more than 800 colleges and universities. Most admissions officers take the college application essay into consideration in deciding which students to admit (of course, each college has its own process).
Colleges see the essay as a way to hear from you directly and to get a sense of who you are in your own words. It’s a great opportunity for you to personalize your application beyond the grades, scores, and other information you’ve provided, and it can make a difference at decision time.
What are colleges looking for in your application essay?
Colleges want to see that you can write well and build a logical argument with supporting ideas. Some colleges also use the essay to help them determine whether an applicant is a good fit.
According to one expert, the best advice for any student writing an essay is to answer the question that was asked and to be yourself—in your own voice.
How do you write a college application essay?
1. just get going..
Staring down a blank page can be the hardest part of writing an essay. So try this exercise to overcome writer’s block: Take 20 minutes to jot down a few quick lists of your proudest accomplishments, worst embarrassments, life-changing moments, strongest memories, favorite people, or any other categories that appeal to you. Don’t overthink your lists. (And don’t worry if, like most people, your best ideas come after that initial 30 minutes is up.) Repeat the exercise once a day for as many days as you need. Soon you’ll discover yourself with one—or more—possible essay topics.
2. Give yourself an early start.
Few people write well under pressure, so give yourself at least a few weeks before the submission deadline. You don’t have to work on your essay every single day, but you do have to give yourself enough time to revise, to edit, and then to show your first draft to a friend for feedback. The sooner that first draft is underway, the better off you’ll be.
3. Avoid a theme that everyone else is using.
Your essay will be easier to write—and more exciting to read—if it’s based on genuine emotion and authentic experience. Don’t try to guess what you think an admissions office wants to read. So if all your friends are writing application essays about the topic of the day, that may be a good reason to stay away from it. Unless, of course, you have a unique angle that you are burning to share.
4. Sound like your best self.
Admissions counselors say that the best essays help them learn something about the student that they would never know from reading the rest of the application. For example, this essay may be the ideal opportunity to draw attention to an achievement, a hobby, or a life experience that’s barely mentioned on your application.
5.Write confidently, but not arrogantly.
Keep a confident tone even if—especially if—you’re not feeling that way. Be on the lookout for words and phrases like “maybe,” “sort of,” and “I think” that might undercut that tone. At the same time, though, make sure to follow application guidelines about format and length. If the essay has a suggested 650-word maximum, your application will stand out—not in a good way—if you turn in 250 words.
6. Proofread, proofread, then proofread again.
As you progress toward your final draft, run the essay through the spell-check on your computer and double-check your word count. Then set it aside and don’t read it for a few days. When you read your essay again with a cold eye, you’ll be more likely to spot typos and awkward phrasing. After that, ask a teacher, parent, or college student to give it a quick read.
7. Put yourself in the place of an admissions counselor.
If you were someone who had to read dozens of college essays every day, would you enjoy reading this one? Does it have a promising beginning? Is it easy to follow? Is it free from distracting typos? Does it have a logical conclusion? Does it make you want to know more about the writer? If you think so, chances are that an admission counselor will too.
Ready to start? Here are some tips to come up with an A+ college application essay:
- You may be asked to write about a personal experience, an achievement, or a person who is significant to you. Go beyond the what or the who and dig into the how and the why.
- If you write about a trip or event, describe how this experience affected you and why it’s meaningful to you.
- If you are writing about a person in your life, be personal and specific, not just sentimental. Explain what this person did and how their actions, words, or example affected you.
Find out how other students successfully tackled their college application essays.
Visit bigfuture.org for more free, comprehensive college planning resources.
How to strengthen your college list, what's a high school transcript.
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Unit 4: lesson 3.
- Writing a strong college admissions essay
- Avoiding common admissions essay mistakes
- Brainstorming tips for your college essay
- How formal should the tone of your college essay be?
- Taking your college essay to the next level
- Sample essay 1 with admissions feedback
- Sample essay 2 with admissions feedback
- Student story: Admissions essay about a formative experience
- Student story: Admissions essay about personal identity
- Student story: Admissions essay about community impact
- Student story: Admissions essay about a past mistake
- Student story: Admissions essay about a meaningful poem
Writing tips and techniques for your college essay
Pose a question the reader wants answered, don't focus exclusively on the past, experiment with the unexpected, don't summarize, want to join the conversation.
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How to Write a College Essay | A Complete Guide & Examples
The college essay can make or break your application. It’s your chance to provide personal context, communicate your values and qualities, and set yourself apart from other students.
A standout essay has a few key ingredients:
- A unique, personal topic
- A compelling, well-structured narrative
- A clear, creative writing style
- Evidence of self-reflection and insight
To achieve this, it’s crucial to give yourself enough time for brainstorming, writing, revision, and feedback.
In this comprehensive guide, we walk you through every step in the process of writing a college admissions essay.
Table of contents
Why do you need a standout essay, start organizing early, choose a unique topic, outline your essay, start with a memorable introduction, write like an artist, craft a strong conclusion, revise and receive feedback, frequently asked questions.
While most of your application lists your academic achievements, your college admissions essay is your opportunity to share who you are and why you’d be a good addition to the university.
Your college admissions essay accounts for about 25% of your application’s total weight一and may account for even more with some colleges making the SAT and ACT tests optional. The college admissions essay may be the deciding factor in your application, especially for competitive schools where most applicants have exceptional grades, test scores, and extracurriculars.
What do colleges look for in an essay?
Admissions officers want to understand your background, personality, and values to get a fuller picture of you beyond your test scores and grades. Here’s what colleges look for in an essay :
- Demonstrated values and qualities
- Vulnerability and authenticity
- Self-reflection and insight
- Creative, clear, and concise writing skills
It’s a good idea to start organizing your college application timeline in the summer of your junior year to make your application process easier. This will give you ample time for essay brainstorming, writing, revision, and feedback.
While timelines will vary for each student, aim to spend at least 1–3 weeks brainstorming and writing your first draft and at least 2–4 weeks revising across multiple drafts. Remember to leave enough time for breaks in between each writing and editing stage.
Create an essay tracker sheet
If you’re applying to multiple schools, you will have to juggle writing several essays for each one. We recommend using an essay tracker spreadsheet to help you visualize and organize the following:
- Deadlines and number of essays needed
- Prompt overlap, allowing you to write one essay for similar prompts
You can build your own essay tracker using our free Google Sheets template.
College essay tracker template
Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.
Ideally, you should start brainstorming college essay topics the summer before your senior year. Keep in mind that it’s easier to write a standout essay with a unique topic.
If you want to write about a common essay topic, such as a sports injury or volunteer work overseas, think carefully about how you can make it unique and personal. You’ll need to demonstrate deep insight and write your story in an original way to differentiate it from similar essays.
What makes a good topic?
- Meaningful and personal to you
- Uncommon or has an unusual angle
- Reveals something different from the rest of your application
You should do a comprehensive brainstorm before choosing your topic. Here are a few questions to get started:
- What are your top five values? What lived experiences demonstrate these values?
- What adjectives would your friends and family use to describe you?
- What challenges or failures have you faced and overcome? What lessons did you learn from them?
- What makes you different from your classmates?
- What are some objects that represent your identity, your community, your relationships, your passions, or your goals?
- Whom do you admire most? Why?
- What three people have significantly impacted your life? How did they influence you?
How to identify your topic
Here are two strategies for identifying a topic that demonstrates your values:
- Start with your qualities : First, identify positive qualities about yourself; then, brainstorm stories that demonstrate these qualities.
- Start with a story : Brainstorm a list of memorable life moments; then, identify a value shown in each story.
After choosing your topic, organize your ideas in an essay outline , which will help keep you focused while writing. Unlike a five-paragraph academic essay, there’s no set structure for a college admissions essay. You can take a more creative approach, using storytelling techniques to shape your essay.
Two common approaches are to structure your essay as a series of vignettes or as a single narrative.
The vignette, or montage, structure weaves together several stories united by a common theme. Each story should demonstrate one of your values or qualities and conclude with an insight or future outlook.
This structure gives the admissions officer glimpses into your personality, background, and identity, and shows how your qualities appear in different areas of your life.
Topic: Museum with a “five senses” exhibit of my experiences
- Introduction: Tour guide introduces my museum and my “Making Sense of My Heritage” exhibit
- Story: Racial discrimination with my eyes
- Lesson: Using my writing to document truth
- Story: Broadway musical interests
- Lesson: Finding my voice
- Story: Smells from family dinner table
- Lesson: Appreciating home and family
- Story: Washing dishes
- Lesson: Finding moments of peace in busy schedule
- Story: Biking with Ava
- Lesson: Finding pleasure in job well done
- Conclusion: Tour guide concludes tour, invites guest to come back for “fall College Collection,” featuring my search for identity and learning.
Single story structure
The single story, or narrative, structure uses a chronological narrative to show a student’s character development over time. Some narrative essays detail moments in a relatively brief event, while others narrate a longer journey spanning months or years.
Single story essays are effective if you have overcome a significant challenge or want to demonstrate personal development.
Topic: Sports injury helps me learn to be a better student and person
- Situation: Football injury
- Challenge: Friends distant, teachers don’t know how to help, football is gone for me
- Turning point: Starting to like learning in Ms. Brady’s history class; meeting Christina and her friends
- My reactions: Reading poetry; finding shared interest in poetry with Christina; spending more time studying and with people different from me
- Insight: They taught me compassion and opened my eyes to a different lifestyle; even though I still can’t play football, I’m starting a new game
Brainstorm creative insights or story arcs
Regardless of your essay’s structure, try to craft a surprising story arc or original insights, especially if you’re writing about a common topic.
Never exaggerate or fabricate facts about yourself to seem interesting. However, try finding connections in your life that deviate from cliché storylines and lessons.
Admissions officers read thousands of essays each year, and they typically spend only a few minutes reading each one. To get your message across, your introduction , or hook, needs to grab the reader’s attention and compel them to read more..
Avoid starting your introduction with a famous quote, cliché, or reference to the essay itself (“While I sat down to write this essay…”).
While you can sometimes use dialogue or a meaningful quotation from a close family member or friend, make sure it encapsulates your essay’s overall theme.
Find an original, creative way of starting your essay using the following two methods.
Option 1: Start with an intriguing hook
Begin your essay with an unexpected statement to pique the reader’s curiosity and compel them to carefully read your essay. A mysterious introduction disarms the reader’s expectations and introduces questions that can only be answered by reading more.
Option 2: Start with vivid imagery
Illustrate a clear, detailed image to immediately transport your reader into your memory. You can start in the middle of an important scene or describe an object that conveys your essay’s theme.
A college application essay allows you to be creative in your style and tone. As you draft your essay, try to use interesting language to enliven your story and stand out .
Show, don’t tell
“Tell” in writing means to simply state a fact: “I am a basketball player.” “ Show ” in writing means to use details, examples, and vivid imagery to help the reader easily visualize your memory: “My heart races as I set up to shoot一two seconds, one second一and score a three-pointer!”
First, reflect on every detail of a specific image or scene to recall the most memorable aspects.
- What are the most prominent images?
- Are there any particular sounds, smells, or tastes associated with this memory?
- What emotion or physical feeling did you have at that time?
Be vulnerable to create an emotional response
You don’t have to share a huge secret or traumatic story, but you should dig deep to express your honest feelings, thoughts, and experiences to evoke an emotional response. Showing vulnerability demonstrates humility and maturity. However, don’t exaggerate to gain sympathy.
Use appropriate style and tone
Make sure your essay has the right style and tone by following these guidelines:
- Use a conversational yet respectful tone: less formal than academic writing, but more formal than texting your friends.
- Prioritize using “I” statements to highlight your perspective.
- Write within your vocabulary range to maintain an authentic voice.
- Write concisely, and use the active voice to keep a fast pace.
- Follow grammar rules (unless you have valid stylistic reasons for breaking them).
You should end your college essay with a deep insight or creative ending to leave the reader with a strong final impression. Your college admissions essay should avoid the following:
- Summarizing what you already wrote
- Stating your hope of being accepted to the school
- Mentioning character traits that should have been illustrated in the essay, such as “I’m a hard worker”
Here are two strategies to craft a strong conclusion.
Option 1: Full circle, sandwich structure
The full circle, or sandwich, structure concludes the essay with an image, idea, or story mentioned in the introduction. This strategy gives the reader a strong sense of closure.
In the example below, the essay concludes by returning to the “museum” metaphor that the writer opened with.
Option 2: Revealing your insight
You can use the conclusion to show the insight you gained as a result of the experiences you’ve described. Revealing your main message at the end creates suspense and keeps the takeaway at the forefront of your reader’s mind.
Revise your essay before submitting it to check its content, style, and grammar. Get feedback from no more than two or three people.
It’s normal to go through several rounds of revision, but take breaks between each editing stage.
Also check out our college essay examples to see what does and doesn’t work in an essay and the kinds of changes you can make to improve yours.
Respect the word count
Most schools specify a word count for each essay , and you should stay within 10% of the upper limit.
Remain under the specified word count limit to show you can write concisely and follow directions. However, don’t write too little, which may imply that you are unwilling or unable to write a thoughtful and developed essay.
Check your content, style, and grammar
- First, check big-picture issues of message, flow, and clarity.
- Then, check for style and tone issues.
- Finally, focus on eliminating grammar and punctuation errors.
Get feedback from 2–3 people who know you well, have good writing skills, and are familiar with college essays.
- Teachers and guidance counselors can help you check your content, language, and tone.
- Friends and family can check for authenticity.
- An essay coach or editor has specialized knowledge of college admissions essays and can give objective expert feedback.
The checklist below helps you make sure your essay ticks all the boxes.
College admissions essay checklist
I’ve organized my essay prompts and created an essay writing schedule.
I’ve done a comprehensive brainstorm for essay topics.
I’ve selected a topic that’s meaningful to me and reveals something different from the rest of my application.
I’ve created an outline to guide my structure.
I’ve crafted an introduction containing vivid imagery or an intriguing hook that grabs the reader’s attention.
I’ve written my essay in a way that shows instead of telling.
I’ve shown positive traits and values in my essay.
I’ve demonstrated self-reflection and insight in my essay.
I’ve used appropriate style and tone .
I’ve concluded with an insight or a creative ending.
I’ve revised my essay , checking my overall message, flow, clarity, and grammar.
I’ve respected the word count , remaining within 10% of the upper word limit.
It looks like your essay ticks all the boxes. A second pair of eyes can help you take it to the next level – Scribbr's essay coaches can help.
Colleges want to be able to differentiate students who seem similar on paper. In the college application essay , they’re looking for a way to understand each applicant’s unique personality and experiences.
Your college essay accounts for about 25% of your application’s weight. It may be the deciding factor in whether you’re accepted, especially for competitive schools where most applicants have exceptional grades, test scores, and extracurricular track records.
A standout college essay has several key ingredients:
- A unique, personally meaningful topic
- A memorable introduction with vivid imagery or an intriguing hook
- Specific stories and language that show instead of telling
- Vulnerability that’s authentic but not aimed at soliciting sympathy
- Clear writing in an appropriate style and tone
- A conclusion that offers deep insight or a creative ending
While timelines will differ depending on the student, plan on spending at least 1–3 weeks brainstorming and writing the first draft of your college admissions essay , and at least 2–4 weeks revising across multiple drafts. Don’t forget to save enough time for breaks between each writing and editing stage.
You should already begin thinking about your essay the summer before your senior year so that you have plenty of time to try out different topics and get feedback on what works.
Most college application portals specify a word count range for your essay, and you should stay within 10% of the upper limit to write a developed and thoughtful essay.
You should aim to stay under the specified word count limit to show you can follow directions and write concisely. However, don’t write too little, as it may seem like you are unwilling or unable to write a detailed and insightful narrative about yourself.
If no word count is specified, we advise keeping your essay between 400 and 600 words.
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How to write your best college application essay
University of Rochester dean of undergraduate admissions offers college applicants some dos and don’ts in writing the personal statement.
By robert alexander, the dean of undergraduate admissions, financial aid, and enrollment management for arts, sciences & engineering, university of rochester..
Many universities ask applicants to include a college application essay—usually a personal statement or similar essay—along with their application materials. With more students applying to selective colleges than ever, and with many of those colleges placing less emphasis on standardized test scores, the admissions essay can be a crucial component of the applicant’s file.
We’ve made that shift in emphasis away from testing at the University of Rochester . As a selective private research university with programs in the liberal arts, sciences, and engineering, the undergraduate college draws from a global pool of high-achieving students. Since nearly all of those candidates are at or near the top of their class, we use a holistic approach to select those with strong ethical character who align with our institutional values. So, as an applicant, how can you distinguish yourself?
One of the most important ways is through your college application essay.
Many students may dread this part of the process. Yet with the right attitude and strategy, you can write an essay that will improve your candidacy for admission. A good college application essay will not overcome poor grades for a student at the lowest end of a school’s applicant pool, but it can help a qualified candidate stand out from the crowd.
Tackle the college essay topic
The traditional college application essay usually requires an open-ended personal statement in response to broad or general prompts that might have you share a story, reflect on an event, or discuss a topic. The Common Application, Coalition for College Application, and other online college application forms typically provide a set of options from which you can choose.
Of course, some college and universities require you to respond to a specific prompt or question. In that case, you want to make sure to answer that prompt or question clearly and directly.
Whether the guidelines are open-ended or specific, the topic itself is less important than how you express yourself.
And above all: Don’t write an admissions essay about something you think sounds impressive or that you think the admissions officer wants to read. While it’s fine to look at college application essay examples, don’t simply mimic one. Write about something truly important to you.
Breadth versus depth?
- Dig deep into one aspect of your topic instead of trying to cover many aspects superficially in your college essay. Be brief in explaining who, what, and where; leave plenty of room for why and how .
→ For example : If you’re writing about a life-changing trip, don’t spend six paragraphs on where you traveled, how long it took to get there, and the weather. We want to know why you went and why the experience was meaningful. How are you different now because of it?
Details bring your application essay to life
- Be specific. It’s the details, rather than any general statements, that bring your essay—and hence, you—to life for an admissions officer who is reading hundreds of personal statements.
→ For example : If you’re writing about how much you loved playing your high school sport, tell a story about a specific game-winning play (or a devastating loss), how you felt, and what you learned.
Writing a college application essay: dos and don’ts
Here are a few guidelines for crafting a college application essay that effectively conveys who you are while also helping you stand out from the thousands of other applicants.
- Present yourself in a dimension that reaches beyond grades, recommendations, and test scores. Think of the things that built your character—maybe a special relationship in your life, your most meaningful extracurricular activity, or a class or idea that changed the way you think. We want to know what makes you tick, how you might fit into our community, and how your distinctive qualities and experiences would contribute to our interesting and dynamic campus.
- Be sure your essay reflects you. Ask yourself: Am I the only person who could have written this essay? Or could everyone else in my senior class have written it?
- Tell a story about yourself with a beginning, middle, and end. Hook the reader with a compelling opening paragraph—surprise us, teach us something we didn’t know, or share something vulnerable and make us curious to read more. Close with a clear ending that ties back to your opening or provides a captivating conclusion to your story.
- Ask someone to proofread your essay or to offer feedback—but be sure your essay is written in your own voice and style. It won’t serve you well for someone else to write your essay for you!
- Stay within the required—or suggested—length. Usually it is about 650 words. This shows that you can follow directions. Plus, good writers can adhere to a word limit and still get their point across.
- Pay attention to formatting. If you compose your essay in a word processing software program (like Microsoft Word or Google Docs) in order to use spellcheck or other features, be sure to review it again after copy-and-pasting into the application itself. Some of the original formatting might be lost because different combinations of word processing and web browsers can cause errors. Double-check before clicking “submit”!
And a few don’ts:
- Humor and creativity can work, provided they are not taken to an extreme. Remember: You don’t know your reader’s sense of humor—and it might not be the same as yours.
- Don’t be controversial or sensational for its own sake; but it’s OK to take a risk if you’re sharing a unique viewpoint or a particularly strong conviction that you hold dear.
- You’re not writing a legal brief for the Supreme Court or trying to sway the audience to your side of an argument. Instead, you’re attempting to share something of yourself with the admissions committee.
- Avoid using words that are not in your regular vocabulary. Again, be yourself.
- Don’t repeat information available in other parts of your application, unless you’re using your college admissions essay to expand upon an activity or academic opportunity that was particularly meaningful to you.
- Avoid regurgitating your resume or writing about your entire life’s history. Listing every award and semester you made honor roll is unnecessary, but sharing how you felt when a beloved yet demanding English teacher said you were his best student has more potential.
Ultimately, your college application essay is a chance to tell the admissions committee who you are and what is important to you. We want to know: What are your values?
At the University of Rochester, for example, we have a motto: Meliora, meaning “ever better.” So, it stands to reason that when we read an application essay, we want to know: How will you make yourself, your community, or the world better?
Tell us your story. This may be your best chance to come through as an individual, so make the most of this opportunity!
About Robert Alexander
Robert Alexander, the dean of undergraduate admissions, financial aid, and enrollment management for Arts, Sciences & Engineering at the University of Rochester, has more than 22 years of enrollment management experience in higher education. He joined Rochester in June 2020 and previously served in senior admissions, enrollment, and communications roles at Millsaps College, University of the Pacific, and Tulane University.
Rochester’s dean of undergraduate admissions offers advice on which courses to take, and why.
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How to Write a Personal Essay for Your College Application
What does it take to land in the “accept” (instead of “reject”) pile?
How can you write an essay that helps advance you in the eyes of the admissions officers and makes a real impression? Here are some tips to get you started.
- Start early. Do not leave it until the last minute. Give yourself time when you don’t have other homework or extracurriculars hanging over your head to work on the essay.
- Keep the focus narrow. Your essay does not have to cover a massive, earth-shattering event. Some people in their teens haven’t experienced a major life event. Some people have. Either way, it’s okay.
- Be yourself. Whether writing about a painful experience or a more simple experience, use the narrative to be vulnerable and honest about who you are. Use words you would normally use. Trust your voice and the fact that your story is interesting enough in that no one else has lived it.
- Be creative. “Show, don’t tell,” and that applies here — to an extent. The best essays typically do both. You can help your reader see and feel what you are describing by using some figurative language throughout your piece.
- Make a point. As you finish your final body paragraphs ask yourself “So what?” This will help you hone in on how to end your essay in a way that elevates it into a story about an insight or discovery you made about yourself, rather than just being about an experience you had.
Where your work meets your life. See more from Ascend here .
We’ve all heard about the dreaded “college essay,” the bane of every high school senior’s existence. This daunting element of the college application is something that can create angst for even the most accomplished students.
What exactly goes into writing a great college essay, and more importantly, what does it take to write one that stands out from thousands of others, landing itself in the “Accept” vs. “Reject” pile?
Breaking Down the College Essay
Let’s start by breaking it down into manageable parts and examining the required elements.
What’s the point of the college essay?
Almost every standard college application requires first-year applicants to submit a personal essay. If you are one of these applicants, you may be wondering, what’s the point?
With so many colleges deciding to go test-optional, (many do not require standardized tests and instead focus solely on your transcripts, essay, and recommendations), the essay is the one place in your application where you can illuminate your character in words and ideas, rather than in numbers and percentages. It is your chance to show schools who you are, what makes you tick, and why you stand out from the crowd.
Admissions counselors will read your essay and try to determine whether or not they want you at their school. While reading, they will be asking themselves, “What will this person bring to our community? Will they make our school a more valuable place?”
What are the prompts?
There are seven personal essay prompts in the Common Application. You may choose to write about obstacles you’ve encountered, your accomplishments and realizations, moments when you experienced extreme gratitude, or select your own topic.
No one prompt is considered “better” than another, but they can vary slightly from year to year, so be sure to read through all of them for your application cycle. At the end of the day, if there is something you feel really passionate about, you can likely adapt it to fit a prompt.
How long should your essay be?
The essay should be 650 words, which might sound like a lot at first, but you will be surprised by how quickly you reach that limit once you get going. Most of the students I work with end up making cuts to shorten their essays before submitting. The word limit is non-negotiable. You will not be able to submit an essay that’s even one word over the limit.
Writing the College Essay
Your parents, teachers, and guidance counselors know what they are talking about when they tell you to get started on the essay during the summer before your senior year. Don’t leave it until the last minute. Once senior year starts, life is a whirlwind. Give yourself time when you don’t have other homework or extracurriculars hanging over your head to work on the essay. Aim to start in July or August before senior year.
Starting can be as easy as creating a document where you generate an ongoing list of potential topics. You will want to draft your essay in a separate document anyway. You can copy and paste it over into the Common Application once you have a final, edited version.
Additionally, starting doesn’t always mean sitting down in front of a computer and typing. Talk about topic ideas out loud with anyone who will listen. Discuss ideas for topics with your family members over dinner or on car rides with friends. Think about ideas when you are out for a run or bike ride. Almost all colleges and universities have samples of “College Essays That Worked” in the admissions section of their websites. Reading through these may inspire you.
Keep the focus narrow.
Do not think too big. Your essay does not have to cover a massive, earth-shattering event. Some people in their teens haven’t experienced a major life event. Some people have. Either way, it’s okay.
That leads to another suggestion: Don’t write about Covid-19. Your essay might touch on something that’s an offshoot of your time spent in quarantine or a loss connected to Covid, but it should not be about the pandemic specifically. There’s no question Covid-19 had, and still has, a major impact on all of us, but that topic has been written about by many students from every angle possible. Colleges want to read something different.
The Common Application has added an optional question that gives all applicants a place to address the impact that Covid has had on them personally and educationally. If you feel you have a story you must tell connected to the pandemic, this is the place to share it.
So, what should you write about?
When brainstorming topics, think about challenges you have faced and how you’ve handled them. You can also ask people who know you best how they would describe you in a few words and why. Their responses can be great jumping off points for writing your essay.
Some students choose to write about seemingly small, ordinary topics that illuminate their character beautifully, and are both poignant and thought-provoking. One student I worked with wrote about growing up hiking with her parents from the time when she was a baby in a backpack carrier, to a grumpy middle schooler, to an appreciative, nature-loving young adult who found outdoor experiences were an essential part of who she was at her core.
Other students choose to describe major life events, or especially challenging experiences that have impacted them deeply. An essay that comes to mind is one written by a student who battled loneliness and isolation due to anxiety and depression, and ultimately found invaluable reprieve in the arts, a passion that they hoped to continue to pursue at the college level.
Whether writing about a painful experience or a more simple experience, be sure the essay rises above a strict recounting of a story. Instead, use the narrative to reveal your true self. It’s okay to be vulnerable and honest; in fact, it’s critical you do so. Admissions counselors will not judge you negatively for depicting moments of weakness or fear, or for having different politics than they might. More likely, they will be impressed by your level of self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and introspection.
Admissions counselors want value-adders. What adds value to a college campus? Students who display energy, resilience, leadership, passion, inclusivity, unique outlooks, and people who can inspire others. Your essay should tell a story that highlights traits like these. No one else has lived your life or experienced what you have in the way that you have; tell your unique story. Use a voice that’s real to you.
This is not the time to experiment with overly formal academic nor romantic, flowery language. Use words you would normally use and show the reader what makes you, you. There is no need to over-inflate things. Trust your voice and the fact that your story is interesting enough in that no one else has lived it.
The college essay is not like a typical English paper. It’s a true blend of the creative and the literary. In creative writing classes you often hear the advice, “Show, don’t tell,” and that applies here — to an extent. The best essays typically do both. You can help your reader see and feel what you are describing by using some figurative language throughout your piece. Describe sights, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, and sounds as you write.
That said, just because you are being creative does not mean your essay should lack structure. This is not the time to experiment with a completely outlandish form. You don’t want to make your readers work to understand what you are trying to say. You want them to be entirely absorbed in the story you are telling. The easiest way to do this is by making your essay easy to read.
Think of the typical five paragraph structure for English papers. Your essay should have an introductory paragraph with a thesis/hook, supporting body paragraphs, and a conclusion that ties everything together. Your story might lend itself to six or seven paragraphs instead of five, depending on where the natural narrative breaks lie, and that’s fine. Just make sure it has a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Your essay should not have any spelling, formatting, or grammatical errors. Mistakes do not put your best foot forward to admissions counselors, and they are distracting.
Be sure to read, re-read, and share your submission with others to prevent the possibility of mistakes. Use tools like spell and grammar check, and ask at least two other people to read your essay and offer feedback. You can ask a trusted family member to take a look, or even reach out to a friend with exceptionally good writing skills. We often get so close to our own words that we miss obvious errors. Even the best writers in the world rely on editors to help catch mistakes.
Another option is to ask your English teacher or guidance counselor to review your essay. In some schools, students will work on the college essay in English class during the fall of their senior year. This gives them a chance to receive both teacher and peer feedback, which can be incredibly valuable.
Finally, read your essay aloud before hitting submit. It may feel silly, but you will be amazed at the errors you will catch this way.
Make a point.
By the time you reach your conclusion, be sure your essay makes some sort of point. This is what will separate it from the competition. Ask yourself what you want your reader to walk away thinking and knowing about you, and allude to that in your final sentences. A strong conclusion that helps tie the entire essay together, and also points to the bigger picture, is key.
To achieve this, as you finish your final body paragraphs ask yourself “So what?” This will help you hone in on how to end your essay in a way that elevates it into a story about an insight or discovery you made about yourself, rather than just being about an experience you had. Above all, remember that the conclusion should not be an afterthought, nor should it simply summarize the previous few paragraphs.
In many ways, the conclusion is the most important part of your essay as it’s the last thing people will read. Be sure to give it the time, effort, and energy it deserves. You want your readers to pause and reflect at the end of your essay. You want them to feel something, versus just moving on to the next essay on their list.
While some students are able to afford pricey college counselors to help guide them through the application process, at the end of the day, there is no magic formula that someone can pay thousands of dollars for when it comes to writing the college essay. Everyone has a unique story to tell and that is priceless. As long as you give yourself the time to brainstorm, and write and then rewrite, as well as ask for feedback from others along the way, you can end up with a solid final product.
One lesson you will learn at college is that the world is full of a wide array of brilliant, interesting, diverse individuals who all have unique life experiences. You are one of those people. Enjoy the process of telling your story, and then relish the opportunity you will have to create more stories as you move onto the next chapter of your life.
- AA Amy Allen is a writer, educator, and lifelong learner. Her freelance writing business, All of the Write Words , focuses on providing high school students with one-on-one feedback to guide them through the college application process and with crafting a thoughtful personal essay. A dedicated poet, Amy’s work has also been published in several journals including Pine Row Press , Months to Years, and Atlanta Review .
- How to Write a College Essay
College admissions experts offer tips on selecting a topic as well as writing and editing the essay.
Students can go online to review essay requirements for the colleges they want to apply to, such as word limits and essay topics. Many students may start with the Common App, an application platform accepted by more than 900 schools. (Getty Images)
Not only is the college essay a place to showcase writing skills, it's one of the only parts of a college application where a student's voice can shine through.
Unlike test scores and transcripts, the college admissions essay offers students a chance to showcase their personality.
"The essays are important in part because this is a student's chance to really speak directly to the admissions office," says Adam Sapp, assistant vice president and director of admissions at Pomona College in California.
Prospective college students want their essay, sometimes called a personal statement, to make a good impression and boost their chances of being accepted, but they have only several hundred words to make that happen.
This can feel like a lot of pressure.
"I think this is the part of the application process that students are sometimes most challenged by," says Niki Barron, associate dean of admission at Hamilton College in New York, "because they're looking at a blank piece of paper and they don't know where to get started."
That pressure may be amplified as many colleges have gone test-optional in the past year, meaning that ACT and SAT scores will be considered if submitted but are not required. Other schools have gone test-blind and don't consider such scores at all. In the absence of test scores, some admissions experts have suggested that more attention will be paid to other parts of an application, such as the essay.
But just as each applicant is unique, so are college admissions policies and priorities.
"Being test optional hasn't changed how we use essays in our selection process, and I wouldn't say that the essay serves as a substitute for standardized test scores," Barron wrote in an email. "A student's academic preparation for our classroom experience is always front and center in our application review process."
Essay writing tips offered by experts emphasize the importance of being concise, coherent, congenial, honest and accurate. An applicant should also flex some intellectual muscle and include vivid details or anecdotes.
From brainstorming essay topics to editing the final draft, here's what students need to know about crafting a strong college essay.
Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a College Application Essay
- 1. Explore essay prompts and select a topic.
- 2. Start your college essay outline before jumping in.
- 3. Write the essay and leave time for multiple drafts.
- 4. Edit and proofread your essay.
- 5. Submit your essay.
Getting Started on the College Essay
A good time for students to begin working on their essays is the summer before senior year, experts say, when homework and extracurricular activities aren't taking up time and mental energy.
Starting early will also give students plenty of time to work through multiple drafts of an essay before college application deadlines, which can be as early as November for students applying for early decision or early action .
Students can go online to review essay requirements for the colleges they want to apply to, such as word limits and essay topics. Many students may start with the Common App , an application platform accepted by more than 900 schools.
In addition to the main essay, some colleges ask applicants to submit one or more additional writing samples. Students are often asked to explain why they are interested in a particular school or academic field in these supplemental essays , which tend to be shorter than the main essay.
Students will want to budget more time for the writing process if the schools they're applying to ask for supplemental essays.
"Most selective colleges will ask for more than one piece of writing. Don't spend all your time working on one long essay and then forget to devote energy to other parts of the application," Sapp says, noting there may be additional questions on an application requiring thoughtfully written responses.
How Long Should a College Essay Be?
Though the Common App – which students can submit to multiple colleges – notes that "there are no strict word limits" for its main essay, it suggests a cap of about 650 words.
"While we won't as a rule stop reading after 650 words, we cannot promise that an overly wordy essay will hold our attention for as long as you'd hoped it would," the Common App website states.
The word count is much shorter for institution-specific supplemental essays, which are typically around 250 words.
How to Pick a College Essay Topic
The first and sometimes most daunting step in the essay writing process is figuring out what to write about.
There are usually several essay prompts to choose from on a college application. They tend to be broad, open-ended questions, giving students the freedom to write about a wide array of topics, Barron says.
The essay isn't a complete autobiography, notes Mimi Doe, co-founder of Top Tier Admissions, a Massachusetts-based advising company. "It's overwhelming to think of putting your whole life in one essay," she says.
Rather, experts say students should narrow their focus and write about a specific experience, hobby or quirk that reveals something personal, like how they think, what they value or what their strengths are. Students can also write about something that illustrates an aspect of their background. Even an essay on a common topic can be compelling if done right.
Students don't have to discuss a major achievement in their essay, a common misconception. Admissions officers who spoke with U.S. News cited memorable essays that focused on more ordinary topics, including fly-fishing, a student's commute to and from school and a family's dining room table.
What's most important, experts say, is that a college essay is thoughtful and tells a story that offers insight into who a student is as a person.
So, no matter what topic students choose, they'll ultimately be writing about themselves, says Ethan Sawyer, founder of the College Essay Guy website, which offers free and paid essay-writing resources. "What we think of as the topic is just the frame or the lens that we're using to get into other parts of you."
If students are having trouble brainstorming potential topics , they can ask friends or family members for help, says Stephanie Klein Wassink, founder of Winning Applications and AdmissionsCheckup, Connecticut-based college admissions advising companies. Wassink says students can ask peers or family members questions such as, "What do you think differentiates me?" Or, "What are my quirks?"
The essay should tell college admissions officers something they don't already know, experts say. Students should ensure they're writing about something that isn't mentioned elsewhere in their application, perhaps in the activities section, or expand greatly on the topic if it is noted elsewhere.
Writing the College Essay
Some experts encourage students to outline their essay before jumping into the actual writing.
But there isn't one correct way of doing things, says Sara Newhouse, senior consultant at Enrollment Research Associates and former vice president for admission and financial planning at Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama.
"Your writing process is your own," she says. Newhouse encourages students to use whatever process worked for them in the past when they completed writing assignments for English and other high school classes.
The first draft of an essay doesn't need to be perfect. "Just do a brain dump," Doe says. "Don't edit yourself, just lay it all out on the page."
If students are having a hard time getting started, they should focus on their opening sentence, Doe suggests. She says an essay's opening sentence, or hook, should grab the reader's attention.
Doe offered an example of a strong hook from the essay of a student she worked with:
"I first got into politics the day the cafeteria outlawed creamed corn."
"I want to know about this kid," she says. "I’m interested."
But Sawyer cautions that students shouldn't get so caught up in writing the perfect hook that they neglect the rest of their essay. He also says he's read some essays that were excellent overall, even though they had what he would consider mundane hooks.
Editing and Submitting the College Essay
While admissions officers try to learn about students via the essay, they are also gauging writing skills, so students want to make sure they submit top-notch work.
"The best writing is rewriting," Sapp says. "You should never be giving me your first draft."
When reviewing a first essay draft, students should make sure their writing is showing, not telling, Doe says. This means students should show their readers examples that prove they embody certain traits or beliefs, as opposed to just stating that they do.
After editing their essay, students should seek outside editing help, experts recommend. While there are individuals and companies that offer paid essay help – from editing services to essay-writing boot camps – students and families may not be able to afford the associated fees.
However, there may be options to defray the costs. Sawyer, for example, says he offers scholarships to students from low-income families that cover the cost of one-on-one essay consultations.
The availability of and level of feedback from free essay advising services vary. Some college prep companies offer brief consultations at no charge. Free essay workshops may also be available through local high schools, public libraries or community organizations. Khan Academy, a free online education platform, also offers a series of videos and other content to guide students through the essay writing process.
Colleges themselves may also have resources, Barron notes, pointing to pages on Hamilton's website that offer writing tips as well as examples of successful admissions essays. Likewise, Hamilton also holds virtual panel discussions on writing admissions essays.
Students have other options when it comes to essay help. They can ask peers, teachers, school counselors and family members for help polishing an essay.
Newhouse says it works well to have other people proofread an essay in two stages. The first stage focuses on content. Readers should look for information gaps in the essay – anything they are confused about. Once the content is nailed down, the second proofing stage focuses on style, including grammar, punctuation and spelling.
But proofreaders should not change the tone of the essay. "Don't let anyone edit out your voice," Doe cautions.
And while proofreading is fair game, having someone else rewrite your essay is not.
When an essay is ready to go, students will generally submit it online along with the rest of their application. On the Common App, for example, students copy and paste their essay into a text box.
Sapp says even though students often stress about the essay in particular, it's not the only thing college admissions officers look at. "The essay is the window, but the application is the house," he says. "So let's not forget that an application is built of many pieces."
Strong College Essay Examples
Below are two examples of strong essays written by students accepted into Johns Hopkins University in Maryland.
"This is a personal statement, so what works in these essays works because of who the student is and how it fits into the rest of his or her application," notes Ellen Kim, dean of undergraduate admissions at Johns Hopkins.
Hover over the circles along the sides of the letters to read more about what worked.
Searching for a college? Get our complete rankings of Best Colleges.
10 Ways to Discover College Essay Ideas
- See College Essay Examples
- Colleges Weigh in on Common Essay Topics
- College Supplemental Essay Tips
- Read 2 Transfer Essays That Worked
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How to Write a College Application Essay
Last Updated: November 20, 2022 References
This article was co-authored by Alexander Ruiz, M.Ed. . Alexander Ruiz is an Educational Consultant and the Educational Director of Link Educational Institute, a tutoring business based in Claremont, California that provides customizable educational plans, subject and test prep tutoring, and college application consulting. With over a decade and a half of experience in the education industry, Alexander coaches students to increase their self-awareness and emotional intelligence while achieving skills and the goal of achieving skills and higher education. He holds a BA in Psychology from Florida International University and an MA in Education from Georgia Southern University. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 108,196 times.
Your college admissions essay is one of the most important parts of your college application. It's a chance to introduce yourself to the admissions officer reviewing your file and to set yourself apart from the other students applying. By carefully brainstorming ideas, drafting, and editing your essay, you can write a college admissions essay to be proud of.
Brainstorming Ideas for Your Essay
- Consider writing down a list of ideas that come to you after you read the question or prompt. Once you've written your list, look it over and see which topics or ideas jump out at you as something you could write about.
- Some colleges or programs will give you several questions or prompts to choose from, or even give you the option of responding to more than one prompt. Choose the question(s) that you think you can answer the most effectively.
- If you have to write 2 essays from very similar prompts or questions, it's okay to reuse ideas or modify a previous draft. Just make sure that your essay effectively addresses all aspects of the prompt.
- For example, maybe you're a creative thinker, or a great problem-solver. Emphasize this in your essay by writing about a time that those qualities helped you in your day-to-day life.
- For example, you could tell a story that illustrates how much you enjoy helping take care of others as a way to explain why you want to do a pre-med major.
- You could also explain how you overcame a particular fear.
- If you're not sure how to start this type of narrative/personal essay, you can look some examples up online to give you an idea of what you should be shooting for.
Drafting Your Essay
- For example, your essay might focus on a situation where you found yourself questioning or challenging one of your own beliefs. Recount an incident in your life when this happened to you, and reflect on how the experience changed you. Start with a few lines that introduce the topic of your essay in a compelling and personal way.
- For example, maybe your essay is on how you're pursuing biology because you've always been interested in how things grow and survive in adverse conditions. You could say something like, “Watching grass grow is the most boring thing most people can think of. I love it.”
- For example, avoid saying things like "dream come true," "long story short," or "outside my comfort zone." Many, many people will use these phrases over and over, and relying on them prevents you from using your own words to describe your experience and feeling.  X Research source
- You might find it helpful to start with an outline listing the major points you want to cover.
- For example, don't just say “I love being in leadership positions.” Instead, give examples of when you've been the leader in groups or taken the lead in situations with other people.
- For example, if you're writing about a time when you helped a friend through the loss of a parent, part of your essay will obviously be sad. But you can also strike a positive tone by saying something like "It was one of the hardest things I've ever done, and it changed my friend in a lot of ways. But I also learned that you can never take a single day for granted and what it means to really be someone's friend."
- For example, you might say, “I've known that I want to go to college for engineering ever since I went on a field trip to the Museum of Science and Industry in fourth grade. I'm always happiest when I'm working on a technical problem or surrounded by people who share my passion. When I toured the Big State U. robotics lab last month, I felt like I was home.”
- For example, maybe you started your essay by talking about how a teacher inspired your love for a particular subject. You might end by sharing something meaningful that that teacher said to you, or briefly summarizing how you grew as a person after taking their class.
Editing Your Essay
- For example, write your admissions essay on a Saturday morning and then don't look at it again until Sunday or Monday night. After writing it, you'll have a better idea of what you actually wanted to say. It will be obvious after some time away where you're saying what you mean and what areas need work.
- You can also ask someone else to proofread your essay for you. Asking a teacher, parent, or older sibling is probably the best way to go, since they might be more familiar with what's expected from college admissions essays.  X Research source
- For example, instead of saying "I want to tell you about the process I went through to decide to become a doctor," you could say, "I want to share how I decided to become a doctor."
- In addition to excessive wordiness, check for unnecessary tangents. When you're drafting your essay, you may end up adding things you didn't originally plan on. Go through your essay and make sure these points serve the main purpose of your essay. If not, take them out.
- Make sure you're replacing your original vocabulary with words that mean the same thing. Different words have different connotations, and not every suggestion from the thesaurus will have the exact meaning you're looking for.
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- ↑ Alexander Ruiz, M.Ed.. Educational Consultant. Expert Interview. 18 June 2020.
- ↑ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marjorie-hansen-shaevitz/college-essay-tips-_b_1719862.html
- ↑ https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-in/essays/8-tips-for-crafting-your-best-college-essay
- ↑ https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-in/essays/tips-for-writing-an-effective-application-essay-college-admissions
- ↑ https://www.c2educate.com/locations/mount-kisco-ny/news/what-are-some-college-essay-cliches/
- ↑ https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/professors-guide/2010/09/15/10-tips-for-writing-the-college-application-essay
- ↑ https://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/college-essay
About This Article
To write a college admissions essay, start by coming up with one or two life experiences related to the prompt. Then, choose one topic and focus on it, like a situation in your life that made you challenge your beliefs. Also, try to begin your essay in a unique way to grab the reader's attention, like by turning it into a story. Next, use a few detailed examples to show the skills you have, such as leadership, rather than using lots of different ones. In the conclusion, make a statement on your main theme without repeating yourself. For tips on how to edit your essay and what to avoid when writing it, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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Writing A College Application Essay
An Easy Guide to Write a College Application Essay
12 min read
Published on: Feb 14, 2019
Last updated on: Dec 21, 2022
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Essay writing is a difficult task for most students. Therefore, they experience the most stress while writing a college essay. However, this type of paper is essential for your higher education and is mandatory while applying for a college.
It is also considered as an opportunity to showcase your competence, talent, and expertise. However, some steps need to be taken to write such compelling essays. Similarly, a proper format and approach are required to grab the college admission officers’ attention.
On the other hand, it can ruin the chances of getting admission to your desired college if it’s written incorrectly. Read this blog to master the art of how to write a good college application essay.
What is a College Application Essay?
A college application essay is also known as a personal statement or a statement of purpose . It is usually written by a student applying to a college or a graduate school.
Such essays are an important part of the college admission process. It helps the admission committees to know about the applicant’s background, interests, and expertise.
The purpose of writing such college essays is to determine a student’s ability to support ideas with logical reasoning. Furthermore, it is also used to check sentence structure and grammatical skills.
There are cases when the college does not give the topics. For this, choose an event of your life, and explain it with in-depth details. Similarly, it is also better to focus on a single story that will project your interest or talent to the reader.
These types of college essays that worked are a little different from a typical essay. Keep in mind the following questions to understand the nature of application essays.
- How will your essay convey the background, and what makes it unique?
- If given a chance to present a true story, what will you share?
- Does the information sound authentic or forged?
- Why should this application be entertained in comparison to others?
How Long Should a College Application Essay be?
There is no specific word limit to write a college application essay. However, a typical length varies from 250 to 650 words. On the other hand, a broad college application essay topic can also exceed this word count.
Types of College Application Essays
Below-given are the three types of college application essays.
The ‘You’ Essay
It requires you to write an essay about yourself. Here, the admission officers want to know about the student’s personality. Similarly, it is a type of personal statement as it reveals interesting facts about students.
The ‘Why Us’ Essay
The college asks students to write such essays to know about their goals and commitments to the institute. Similarly, it also tells them why a particular applicant wants to join the college.
However, be careful while addressing the reasons. It is better to conduct thorough research on the subject and the high school beforehand.
The ‘Creative Essay’
A creative essay helps to evaluate a student’s ability to write and think creatively. Similarly, it provides them with a chance to share their viewpoints on a topic by adding creativity.
Here, a student will be graded based on his education, knowledge, and ability to present the case creatively.
College Application Essay Format
A college application essay format usually follows the below pattern.
Margins: Use a 1-inch margin on all sides.
Line Spacing: Use 1.5 or double line spacing.
Paragraphs: Indent the first line of each paragraph.
Fonts: Use a standard font like Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri in 12-pt size.
Alignment: Use “left align.”
Citation style: MLA, APA, Chicago, or Harvard.
Every college has its requirements for formatting an essay. Some may also ask to include page numbers with a college application essay heading on each page. However, never include your name until you are requested to do so.
Refer to the document for a better understanding of the format for a college application essay.
College Application Essay Format Example
How to Start a College Application Essay?
A good starting is key to making your college application essay stand out. Thus, it is essential to pay special attention to this section.
Here are some easy tips to start a college application essay correctly.
1. The Full HemingtonWay
Start your essay with an image-based description that focuses on specific moments. It will help to clarify the dialogues, actions, or supporting details.
2. The Mini Hemingway
It also includes an image-based description of 1-3 sentences. It is used to explain, comment, or provide a context of the described event.
3. The Twist
It requires the author to begin an essay with important information or a surprising fact.
4. The Philosophical Question
You can also start by asking a question. It will give you a chance to hook the reader by exploring possible answers or solutions.
5. The Confession
Here, a writer begins an essay by admitting the fact that he might be judged.
6. The Trailer Thesis
It comprises 1-2 sentences that give an idea of the main arguments included in the essay. Moreover, it usually comes at the end of the first paragraph.
7. The Fascinating Concept
You can also start with an unusual concept. Then, it follows up with a description that explains where the idea comes from and why the author considers it.
8. The Random Personal Fun Fact
A writer can also start by stating a strange fact about himself.
9. The Shocking Image
You can also start by mentioning a shocking image and write a few sentences to discuss its importance.
How to Write a College Application Essay?
Follow the steps given below to write an exceptional college application essay.
1. College Application Essay Prompts
The first and foremost step is to read the instructions and understand the essay prompts. It may suggest two or more topic ideas that may be impersonal but are aimed at testing you.
Consider the following elements to comprehend the college application essay ideas.
- What does the prompt seek? Is it directed to inform? Expand? Support? Defend?
- Relate the prompt to yourself and analyze how it can apply to you.
In case colleges do not assign an essay topic, try to find one you are passionate about. Also, think about memorable incidents, struggles, achievements, or failures that have affected your life.
2. Brainstorm Ideas
Once you’re done with the prompt, brainstorm ideas to write the best college essays. The purpose is to collect all the information and align it with your college admissions essays. Make sure that you do this before starting the writing process.
Here are the fundamental ingredients of the brainstorming process:
- Reflect on your life. You will find plenty of events to discuss in the college admission essay.
- How would someone describe me? What are my weaknesses and strengths? What makes me stand out among others?
- Write down all the ideas that will engage the readers.
- Narrow down your options. Pick the most appropriate concept, and according to the essay prompt.
- Incorporate enough details to showcase your abilities, extracurricular activities, test scores, achievements, and beliefs.
3. College Application Essay Outline
The next important step is to create an outline that divides the essay into different sections. A basic outline structure includes an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
The following is a detailed description of each section.
The introduction paragraph should start with a hook to engage the readers. It may include a controversial statement, a thought-provoking question, or a confession.
Try to write in a style that reflects your personality. Tell something about yourself. You can also challenge the reader by addressing them directly.
Furthermore, relate the topic or narrative to the subject knowledge. It will show your ability to use the gained knowledge for adding value to society.
Also, add a brief description of your academic skills and relate them to the course you are applying to. However, make sure to keep this section narrow and focused.
The body paragraphs should also provide detailed explanations and college essay examples to show your ideas. Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that identifies what the section is about.
Be concise and use vivid images. As you aim to meet a limited word count thus, make the most of it. Also, avoid using cliches and words like ‘I’ and ‘me’ too much. Instead, use simple language to convey the message.
Moreover, you should also focus on adding a creative perspective.
The conclusion of the common app essay will remain with the reader. Thus, try to begin and end the conclusion naturally.
Restate your thesis statement , and relate your closing statement to the opening one. Moreover, review the introduction to follow and use the same tone and theme in your conclusion.
Don't end your essay with a summarizing statement. Instead, discuss what you have learned from your experiences. Similarly, avoid adding stock phrases and quotations as they demonstrate a lack of creativity.
However, end your conclusion on a positive note. Do not forget to tell how your admission can contribute to the college and the community. Lastly, leave your readers with an open-ended question or a final thought to ponder.
Have a look at the below-given outline template to get a detailed idea of writing one.
College Application Essay Outline Template
4. Writing the College Application Essay
After deciding on an outline structure and format, start writing the essay. Try to keep the college common application essay narrow and focus on reaching the word count.
Start with the main idea and follow it from the beginning to the end. Never copy from any other source. Instead, state an original story and bring something new and unique.
Also, include all the supporting details required to back up the main arguments. You can also use humor if appropriate.
Edit and proofread your rough draft and eliminate all grammatical errors. This is how you will be able to produce a flawless essay for getting into your desired college.
How to End a College Application Essay?
End your college application essay by identifying whether you have included all the elements in your essay. Here is a checklist for you to access your application by asking yourself the following questions.
- Have you provided original content and personal experiences in your essay?
- Does your essay meet all the instructions specified by the college you are applying to?
- Does it address the college essay prompts effectively?
- Does it mention your academic grades and accomplishments?
- Does it meet the required word count?
- Are there enough details to support the main ideas?
- Does it follow the correct college essay format template?
- Does it mention your goals and commitments to the college?
- Does it include the reasons why you are the perfect choice among others to get admission?
- Does it demonstrate your enthusiasm for attending your desired college?
- Does it include any references or recommendation letters from your teachers?
- Have you proofread your essay for punctuation, spelling, and grammar mistakes?
- Have you used the correct outline and sentence structure?
Keeping in mind these elements will help to end a successful college application essay.
College Application Essay Examples
Check out the given college application process samples to write a perfect essay.
500 Words College Application Essay Example
Sample College Application Essay
Personal College Application Essay
Refer to our good college application essay examples in case you need more samples.
College Application Essay Topics
Have a quick look at the following topics for your college application essay.
- Sports you cherish
- Clubs you belonged to
- Community services you performed
- Remarkable achievements
- Memorable experience
- Distinguished abilities (survival in the wild, fluency in languages, and culinary efficiency)
- Why do you want to take admission to your desired college?
- Describe a person you admire
- Describe a book your love
- A meaningful extracurricular activity
- A failure that affects your personality
- The biggest life goal
- An embarrassing moment
- A quote that describes you
- Describe something you are passionate about
- The best advice your grandmother gave you
- A memorable meal you had
- The historical background that sets you apart
- A tattoo that defines you
- A commitment you made with your parents
College Application Essay Tips
Here are some college application essay tips for writing a perfect essay.
- Be an interesting version of yourself. Tell a story that feels personal and meaningful to you.
- Take enough time to put your ideas into the right words. Then, sequence the points logically by using an outline.
- The essay should be relevant and focused on making an impression on the admission officers.
- Write a killer opening sentence.
- Make sure your writing piece addresses the essay prompt.
- Ensure to answer the college application essay questions that you have been asked.
- Create a compelling setup to distinguish your application from other applicants.
- Never exceed the instructed word count.
- Do not copy or paste from other sources and share your knowledge of the college and subject.
- Admission officers are not interested in a list of accomplishments. Instead, they are seeking a personal narrative that carries the details.
- Write in a language that feels natural. Do not use poetic and comedian styles.
- Leave your reader with food for thought to think about.
- A strong conclusion should tie up your essay that shows you are ready for college.
Get help from our compiled list of college application essay prompts to get more interesting ideas.
Get Help from an Expert College Essay Writer
Writing a college application essay requires proper planning and consideration. We understand that it can be daunting as your entire career and future depend on it. Similarly, it also requires you to showcase yourself as the most deserving candidate to get admission.
Therefore, most students end up contacting a professional writing company to get done with this task. If you need a reliable college admission essay writing service , MyPerfectWords.com is the right place for you. Get help from our professional writer to create an error-free essay in no time.
Moreover, you will also be able to interact with our college admission essay writer to track your work progress. Check out the common app essay examples and customer reviews on our website before choosing us. We assure you to provide quality supplemental essays, scholarship essays, and personal statements.
Place your order with our essay writing service and get the best college application essay help.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use ‘i’ in a college application essay.
It is important to make ‘I’ statements in your college application essays. Colleges expect you to sound like yourself, so always be true to yourself when writing for the college boards.
Can you say ‘We’ in an essay?
We all know that 1st person plural is not a good idea in essays. To keep the reader engaged, you should be impersonal and avoid using ‘we’ or ‘us.’
Is it OK to talk about depression in a college essay?
Don't do it! There is no need to make your main essay all about these topics. Other ways may work better than writing, specifically on depression.
Cathy A. (Literature, Marketing)
Cathy has been been working as an author on our platform for over five years now. She has a Masters degree in mass communication and is well-versed in the art of writing. Cathy is a professional who takes her work seriously and is widely appreciated by clients for her excellent writing skills.
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How To Write A Better College Essay
As college admissions become more and more difficult and applicants become more and more qualified, the college essay gains clout as a vital part of the application process. An outstanding personal essay, no matter how long, is sometimes the deciding factor for a prospective student. But it’s not enough to show proficiency with the written word -- at least not anymore. Today’s personal essays revolve around the sense of personality and style gleaned from each sentence, and it’s your responsibility to harness those elements. The following tips will get you on your way to the acceptance pile.
The most important part of a college essay is the actual topic, so you need plenty of time to mull over the choices. You’ll want something interesting, but not cliché, significant but not trite. Consider the following questions during your brainstorming process:
What distinguishes you from others in your age group? Any special skills, talents, interests or attributes?
Have you engaged yourself in a fierce struggle for something? Did you succeed or fail? What have you learned?
What are your most concrete goals for the future? Where do want to be in 20 years and how will you get there?
What or who has been influential in your life? How or why?
Though it’s tempting to ramble through your whole life story in a college essay, be careful to keep your topic narrowed. Write one sentence (a thesis, in a sentence) that sums up the point of your entire essay, and make each paragraph support that one sentence. Try not to get too lofty with your concept; find the point and stick to it.
The opening paragraph is your first (and sometimes only) chance to grab firmly the attention of admission officials, so don’t create a lazy intro that simply sums up what you’ll discuss. Be vivid, clear and original; try piquing their interest with an anecdote or poignant question. Give your intro an element of mystery and intrigue -- really make the reader want to read more. This could be the most important paragraph in the essay, so devote plenty of time to crafting this well.
Sure, admissions officials aren’t your best friends and you shouldn’t write as if they are. But if you get mired in formality, paralyzed by grammar, you might exclude the most crucial element of your essay -- you. Colleges want to know who you are and what traits make you shine, so don’t be afraid to let the real you shine through. But never paint yourself into an image that isn’t really you; if you have to alter your personality drastically to gain acceptance to a school, chances are good that it’s not the right school for you.
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College essays are important because they let you reveal your personality. Learn how brainstorming and planning can help you write your best college essays.
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20 Hilariously Awful College Admissions Essays
Were some of these applicants even trying to get accepted? Students and admissions counselors sound off on college essays that range from hysterical to flat out bizarre.
“When applying to college we were told about a kid that applied to Harvard. Their prompt asked them to propose their own question and answer it. The kid asked himself “Do you play the trombone?” His answer: “No.” Of course, he got in. I’m not sure what the moral of the story was…maybe to think outside the box?” —sierrarose10 via reddit.com .
“The old application for the Honors College had some required essays, and one year they asked, ‘If you were a candy bar, what would you be and why?’ It’s been over 15 years, and I’ll always remember the essay where the student answered, ‘It would depend on whether or not I would want to be eaten.’ He was admitted.” —Lisa Baker, assistant director, admissions at Indiana University of Pennsylvania via quora.com
Honesty pays off
“I applied to Hofstra this year and their only supplemental essay was, ‘Why are you applying to Hofstra?’ I submitted ‘You gave me a fee waiver.’ I was accepted and received a scholarship of $80,000 over four years.” —Aumming via reddit.com
Chipotle is life
“My friend wrote one of his essays about how Chipotle is essential to his life. He was accepted.” —MrLamar3 via reddit.com
Essay writing is an art…
“I used my latest AP art history essays for every essay question. Literally, it said things like ‘Why do you want to go here?’ and I attached an essay about the artistic merits of the famous toilet art of Dada movement, another one was about the Baroque period. I ended up getting in AND getting a decent scholarship/aid package…” —anonymous user via reddit.com . Was this a mistake? Maybe not, but these real spelling errors that made it into newspapers will also have you giggling.
Talk about tooting your own horn
“My dormmate applied to UC Berkeley with excellent grades… but also an essay of… ‘What do Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, George Washington….etc, etc, etc have in common?’ Answer: ‘They were all amazing people. So am I. Please accept me to your school.'” —Zigxy via reddit.com
When all else fails, call them out
“I know someone who told U of Michigan that the way they evaluate students is faulty and that GPAs/test scores are useless. He got in.” — OrbitBrazil via reddit.com
“One of the essays to get into the university that I attend was, what is your favorite word and why? My friend who now attends this university wrote ‘Duh, duh.'” — euthansaia via reddit.com
A little humor sometimes goes a long way
“I had a friend in high school who applied early decision to Wharton. They had ‘Write page 264 of your autobiography,’ as an essay question, so he wrote half a sentence along with a note that said ‘Page 264 was the last page of the chapter. I thought about giving you page 263 instead but felt that would be dishonest.’ He got in.” —Fenring via reddit.com
At least he was upfront
“We had one question along the lines of ‘what is the biggest challenge you’ve ever had’ and one kid answered with ‘this application.'” —M1L0 via reddit.com . Perhaps this applicant believed this would work. Check out other hilarious things people believed when they were younger.
This could’ve gone down the toilet
“I wrote mine about Cottonelle wipes and how they changed my life. The essay started off witty and funny and after the first paragraph, I seriously discussed Cottonelle wipes superiority to toilet paper. I sent it to every school I applied to.” —Flyers37 via reddit.com
Tomato, no go
“When I was in high school, we had an admissions person visit and she said one student wrote an essay about how people either really like tomatoes or really hate them and how there is no in-between.” —Capri1722 via reddit.com.
Short and sweet
“There was this one essay that I heard about where the prompt was ‘In 500 words, tell us what your favorite word is and why’ and the student answered ‘brevity.’ He got in.” —Anonymous user via reddit.com
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
“I wrote an essay about how Spongebob changed my life, and it ended up being many people’s favorite college essay.” —Anonymous user via reddit.com
A hairy situation
“I wrote my application essay about growing my first facial hair. I definitely got in.” —Grogtron via reddit.com . We can only hope the speech at this applicant’s following commencement was as good as these hilarious lines from celebrity commencement addresses .
Playing video games DOES pay off
“For my college acceptance essays, I wrote about how the video game character Pajama Sam was my personal hero. Accepted to three out of four and waitlisted at the fourth.” — Kelseysaurus via reddit.com .
The girl prepared to pull a Harry Potter
“When I was working in admissions at a university, I dealt strictly with international students. I had a young woman who applied to the university and was looking for a scholarship (about 20 to 25 percent of all international applicants cannot afford the fees and request a full scholarship. Less than 1 percent of those applicants receive it). She wrote how we could take her passport and make her work/live at school until her debt had been paid off. She went into great detail about how she was OK living in a cupboard and she’d only ask to be let free once a month, but would absolutely return. Needless to say, her request was denied.” —Anonymous via reddit.com
Some things are best left unsaid
“Worst case I’ve seen is a kid openly admit in his application essay that he was a habitual cheater throughout high school but it taught him how to become resourceful and think outside the box. I’ve never seen an application get denied faster.” —GrandDaddyBitter via reddit.com
Hopefully, her siblings had a little bit more to say
“As I work privately with over 250 college admissions applicants per year, the worst one was by a girl who is a triplet. The entire essay was ‘I’m a triplet’ and said nothing else — zero.” —Amanda Uhry via quora.com
That’s some…creative editing
“I put my college essays online. My main essay was about a trip to Belarus, which was (and still is) under a Soviet-style government. Someone emailed me to thank me, saying he had copied my essay, except he changed it to be about his trip to a regional soccer tournament. I was like…uh, did you at least take out all the stuff about Communism?” — Kay Aull via quora.com .
Note: Some posts were edited for clarity, spelling, and grammar.
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How to Write a Great College Application Essay
By manuela florea
You’ve completed all the application forms, taken all the tests, and now it’s finally time to impress your university’s admission officers with a great college application essay.
A college application essay is usually around 500 words, and those words can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection. You will spend many days researching and crafting your essay, but admissions officers will only have a few minutes to actually read it, so you need to get their attention.
However, if you are the type of person who likes to start with the don’ts, check out our blog post on How Not to Write a University Application Essay .
1. Read the instructions carefully
They say starting the essay is the hardest part. You may think it’s redundant to mention that you need to read the instructions carefully, but with all the excitement and stress that characterizes this period of your life, it needs to be highlighted.
If you don’t follow the application essay guidelines, the admissions officer may assume that you won’t be able to follow the directions of the university’s program. Page and word limits are mentioned for a reason and you must be able to organize your submission by following the rules.
After you’ve read through the instructions a few times and gathered your notes, you can start creating an outline to organize your essay and decide what message you want to send. Now you're ready to write your first draft.
2. Start with a compelling introduction
Great writing is hard to achieve, but it’s possible if you’re smart about it. Anyone who works in journalism will tell you that you can catch any reader’s attention as long as you deliver a great introduction.
The admissions officers will only spend a brief amount of time reviewing your essay, so you need to start with a vivid paragraph that will keep them engaged. The introduction has to reveal to the reader what your essay is about and catch their attention. You could open with an anecdote or an interesting story that will show some of the best parts of your personality and character, offering an insight that will help the admission officers get to know who you are.
3. Use your inner voice
Universities are looking for authenticity and quality of thinking, so don’t try to shape your essay around phrases or ideas that people have used many times before, but base it on your genuine beliefs.
The application essay is your opportunity to impress an admissions officer with your determination and existing knowledge of your chosen subject. Make sure it reflects all of your skills and ambitions, and show how your chosen program will help you achieve future goals.
4. Avoid clichés
While you research your application essay, you will be encouraged to check out some examples of great essays and get inspired. While this is a great exercise, many students allow themselves to be influenced too much by the examples, and use lots of clichés in their desire to impress the admission officers.
Remember that there are thousands of others students applying to your desired university, and you need to distinguish yourself. Re-read your essay, delete all the sentences that sound like a cliché, and try to find a more original angle.
Admissions officers go through thousands of applications a year, so it’s only logical that they will notice those that bring a unique personality to life. Let them discover that!
5. Give good examples to support your ideas
A college application essay is basically a glimpse into how your mind works and how you view the world. If you want your essay to be credible, you need to make sure everything you write supports that viewpoint. Spend some time figuring out how the essay question relates to your personal qualities and then write from a specific angle.
That means that every time you want to express an idea, you don’t simply state a fact, but you also include specific details and examples to develop your ideas. You can do that by offering examples from your personal experiences and writing about what truly motivates you and how you developed a certain belief.
6. Stick to a clear essay plan
Creativity is an aspect very much appreciated in writing, but don’t assume that a creative essay is not also an organized one. Obviously, you don't want to write a bunch of words without meaning, so make sure you write about just one subject at a time.
You will have a maximum number of words, so the secret is not to try to cover everything in your essay. Create a plan before you actually start writing, organize your essay in three parts (introduction, body and conclusion), and decide on the main ideas you want to express.
7. Ask someone to proofread your work
You want to create a great college application, so you will probably read it over and over again in order to make sure there are no typos and spelling and grammar errors. But after a while, you might need a fresh perspective. It's best to ask someone who hasn't seen it yet to take a look, as they're likely to see mistakes you won't catch.
If you ask a teacher or parent to proofread your essay, they will be able not only to catch mistakes, but also to check if the writing sounds like you. After reading so many examples and following all those instructions, it’s hard to tell if what you just wrote is a statement of who you really are or not. Enlist the help of others to make sure that your essay is immaculate.
Now start writing and craft an extraordinary essay!
This article was originally published in January 2016 . It was last updated in September 2022
Want more content like this Register for free site membership to get regular updates and your own personal content feed.
Manuela is passionate about education and evolution and wishes to collect enough information in order to help students from all corners of the world take the big step towards their incredible future.
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College Application Essay Guide
College Application Essay
Last updated on: Feb 9, 2023
College Application Essay Writing - Easy Guide and Useful Tips
By: Jared P.
11 min read
Reviewed By: Melisa C.
Published on: Jul 28, 2020
Writing an essay is tough, but when you are writing your high school or college application essay, then you will definitely feel a little bit more stressed as this is a matter of your future.
On the other hand, a college application essay is an opportunity for the students, beyond the scope of their grades, to shine and create an impact on the college administration.
However, if written incorrectly, this type of essay can ruin your chances of getting into your desired college.
This blog discusses everything you need to know about writing your college application essay successfully.
On this Page
What is a College Application Essay?
College application essays, also known as a statement of purpose or a personal statement, are written by prospective students applying for a college, university, or graduate school. It enables the admission committee to know about the applicant's background, identity, interest, etc.
Some topic ideas or concepts that make great application essays are the challenges, setbacks, and failures that helped shape your personality. Facing a challenge or setback provides an opportunity to learn and you learn from the experience.
This serves as an accomplishment event or realization for the admissions officers and helps in the application process.
Importance of a College Application Essay
We are all aware of the fact that your GPA, grades and admission test scores contribute a great deal to help you get into college. However, these are not the only factors required when it comes to college admission.
Essay writing has gained importance over the past few years in literature and education. This is the reason that colleges have made submission of college application essays a part of their admission criteria. If you have good writing skills, getting into a good college should not be an issue for you.
A college essay is not just written for the admission committee to check your grammar or sentence structure. Your grades and GPA are proof of your academic writing skills, but to grab the college's admission committee's attention, you need something else.
The basic purpose of writing this essay is to see how a student can support his ideas with logical reasoning and by expressing his point of view. Another important reason to write this essay is to know a little about the student's personal identity, interest, or talent and the kind of extracurricular activities they were a part of .
In short, every college wants to determine whether the student they are considering is a good fit for higher education at their college or not. This is the reason why the college application essay is a part of the process of applying to an Ivy League school or any other college.
Types of College Application Essays
When we talk about the college application essay, there are usually 3 different types of essay.
1. The "You" Essay
Supplemental essay is writing an essay about yourself. That means that the college wants to know about the student and his personality.
This type of essay is a chance for the students to express themselves and reveal interesting facts about their personality to the admission committee. However, this is somewhat of an open-ended question. Students should remain careful of what they are sharing in the essay.
This is also known as a personal statement, that helps the admissions committee to get to know you. If you need more information and tips about a personal statement, here is a detailed article on writing a personal statement , its format and useful examples.
Pro Tip: Less is more.
This does not mean that the students should just start writing their resume and expertise in the form of an essay. The best approach to write an essay about yourself is to choose an interesting event from your life and describe it in your essay. Though the event should be the one that highlights your character's positive points and skills.
Please share your story and do it with all honesty.
2. The "Why Us" Essay
When a college asks for this type of essay, this means that they want to know about the goals of the student and why he wants to join this college. This type of essay explains how serious one is about committing to college and his goals.
The positive aspect of this type of essay is that it provides a clear path for the students to write. This essay has a very defined answer about why the student chose a certain field or college and how serious he is towards his goals.
However, this is also the drawback of writing this type of essay. If a student hasn't thought this through or has failed to write a detailed and impactful essay, he might not be able to impress the admissions committee.
Also, students should remember that whatever they are writing about college should be based on facts. Remember, flattery won't help you get into college.
Paper Due? Why Suffer? That's our Job!
3. The Creative Essay
This type of essay helps evaluate the creative abilities of the applicant. To examine and analyze the knowledge and thinking abilities of the students, some colleges ask for a creative type of essay as an application essay.
A creative essay gives a chance to the students to share their personal points of view and thoughts on a specific topic by adding a "creative" element to their writing.
You can be creative while writing the essay, but your writing should not depict fantasies. It is important to write a well-informed essay, it is somewhat of an intellectual challenge a research process might help with. Research different ideas and focus on your voice and writing instead of impressing the reader.
How to Start a College Application Essay
Your college essay is like a wriggly worm that you are writing to hook your catch, catch being the reader from the admissions committee. To impress your reader, you need to start your essay with an interesting introduction to hook your reader to your essay.
Searching online for the best essay hooks related to your topic will give you numerous results. You can take an idea from those samples but never make the mistake of copying the hook in your essay.
Now the question is, how to write an interesting introduction for your college essay that stands out from thousands of other applications that your reader has been reviewing and is probably bored by now.
Here are some components that you can include to compose an interesting introduction for your college essay.
- Attention-grabbing first sentence – Start your essay with a killer statement to engage your reader and compel him to continue with your essay.
- An interesting and detailed story – You can start your essay by telling an interesting series of events depending on the type of essay.
- A short story leading to an insightful experience – If you are going to write about a life-changing experience in your essay, start your introduction with a short story and then pivot your way to describe your experience.
Leave Quora and Webster out of it
Keep your essay original and appealing. Do not take definitions from these online resources and incorporate them directly into your essay. The number one reason for this is it will add length in your essay and will make your content look unappealing.
As word limit is usually small, adding definitions and explanations will occupy all places in the essay.
Avoid Present Tense
In the present tense, you can tell stories, but they don't have the right drama and expression.
This is the reason that many of the top writers use past tense in their books as it creates a sense of mystery and excitement in the content.
Avoid Informal Tone
A college essay is not a comic book, so avoid using slang expressions. Like Ouch! Buzz! Whizz! Whoosh!
Adding such expressions with an exclamation mark is your call for trouble. Your essay should sound mature if you want to create an impression on the reader.
How to Write a College Application Essay
Imagine a room full of admission faculty sitting in a room, looking exhausted from all the application applications that they have been reading from the last three days.
All these people, who might be bored and tired of all the similarly written essays on similar topics that are part of every year's topic list.
Lack of creativity, story and expression become the reason for all such essays to make a place in the bin. The truth is that students often fail to create an impact in the essays and they are more or less copied from the internet.
They are typical and boring. Few in hundreds make their readers fall in love with them.
So, write an essay that puts its readers in a state of amazement. Here are a few college application essay tips to help you craft your essay.
1. Choose the Topic Wisely
Your commitment is important. Once you are committed to writing an essay, put all of your energy in finding the right topic.
This first step is the trickiest.
- Try to find a topic that you are passionate about.
- Think about what topic occupies the most space in your mind.
- What aspect of your life comes in your mind before sleeping and what comes first, when you wake up?
- Think about your struggles, problems, and how your personality reacts to important events in your life.
- List the factors that are the cause of your happiness and sorrow. Reflect on the events that have changed your life.
Answers to the above questions will open your mind to the possible ideas regarding topic selection.
If you are still blank, and can't choose a good topic, here is an example of one of the common app essay prompts:
"Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma."
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2. Express Your Opinion
In school, you must have written essays of various types that required you to persuade the reader regarding a particular agenda or to take sides according to the topic requirement.
But in college essays, you are required to express your own thinking and the conflicts that you face in your emotions and mind about your personal situation, unless the college has specified the topic.
Conflict is another subject that you can pick to write your application essay. Such essays are usually easy and impactful.
Don't explore the selected topic in terms of all its possible dimensions. These types of essays are small in length and much centered around the topic.
3. Talk about Your Achievements
Yes, it's your time to impress the admission officers so you must write about your achievements, show them that you are different and worthy of becoming part of their institution. But never brag about them.
Filling content with your praises will create the wrong impact on the reader. Writing about struggles and issues will give a personalized touch to the content of your essay.
In fact, failures are an essayistic diamond. You add your personal experiences and life lessons in the content. Be honest in your stories and say the hardest and the deepest things you can.
4. Avoid Repetition
If you are given an essay prompt to select for the essay, then always select the one that is closest to your heart and personality.
Avoid the repetition of prompts. Often students think that repeating the prompt will add value to the essay and the reader will think that the student has paid serious attention to the topic.
But in reality, it just makes content unappealing. For this, you need to learn about how to write an essay like a professional because this is not an easy task and you need to pay full attention to it for your success.
How to End a College Application Essay?
Writing a college application the correct way is extremely important, so it ends properly. Remember that you are not supposed to end with the overall summary of the entire paper unlike other essays
Also, don’t end with a quote by another person as this is your essay and they want to hear your thoughts.
Lastly, proofreading is the key to ending your college essay.
Yes, this old school trick is the most valuable advice that you should incorporate in your essay.
Don't make the mistake of using incorrect grammar, vocabulary, punctuation and articles in your essay.
If you are writing a million-dollar essay but it has errors in it, then you are setting yourself for failure.
Mediocre level content with no mistakes has better chances of impressing the admission officers than an essay with elevated language and equally elevated grammatical mistakes.
College Application Essay Format
It is important to follow a certain format when you are writing your essay. You don't want to blow away your chance of getting into a good college only because you were too lazy to follow the desired format. Keeping in mind the tips mentioned above, here is a sample college essay format you can follow to craft your application essay.
HOW TO FORMAT A COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAY
The most common mistake that students make while writing this essay is being too vague about themselves. Writing an application essay gives you a chance to express your personality and who you really are.
It is your chance to stand out among the crowd. Don't brag about your GPA, grades, extra classes, or even being a class president. That is not the purpose of an application essay.
Here are some Common App college application essays that worked; you can take guidance from them while writing your essay.
COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAY EXAMPLES
SAMPLE COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAY
College Application Essay Prompts
Students often wonder how to write a good college application essay. Well, in order to write a good essay you need to choose a topic that best fits your personality and interests.
If you have the opportunity to write on a topic of your choice, then this list of college application topics will help you choose one:
- The biggest challenge you had to face and how did you go through it?
- The time you thought outside the box and questioned a belief.
- What do we learn from bad experiences? Share a time you benefited from a negative experience.
- Describe an event of personal growth or an accomplishment.
- What is something that consumes you and you lose track of time and everyone around you?
Writing to get into a good college might sound scary at first. Follow these guidelines and you will end up with an amazing college essay.
Remember, write for yourself and showcase your abilities in your essay.
If you find writing a difficult task consult 5StarEssays.com for all your do my essay paper needs.
Hire an essay writer from 5StarEssays to help you with your college essay. Professional essay writers can help you write a quality essay according to your demands in no time.
After all, this is a chance you don't want to risk.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should a college application essay be about.
Since these essays are supplemental essays that go with the admission application, they provide an opportunity to the students so that they could introduce themselves to the admission officers.
What do colleges look for in essays?
The admission officers like those essays that help them know a student in a better manner and talk about his personal experiences. This helps them in deciding whether the student would make a good fit for their institute or not.
How long is a college essay?
A college admission essay is 400 to 500 words long.
Do colleges really read the essays?
Yes, the colleges usually have one to two admission officers that read each essay. However, it depends on the institute also.
Economics Essay, Psychology Essay
Jared P. is a renowned author and writing service provider with over fifteen years of experience in the publishing industry. He has a Ph.D. degree in English Literature and has spent his entire career helping students achieve their academic goals by providing expert writing assistance.
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5 tips on how to nail your college application essay
When it comes to applying for college, many students are faced with the same question, “How to write an essay for your college application?”
The essay can be daunting, but it can determine whether you get into your preferred uni.
In fact, your college essays account for 25% of your overall application to get into schools like Harvard University, Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and more.
The competition gets more intense at these schools, where applicants have exceptional grades, test scores and extracurricular experience.
As such, nailing your college application essay can help you stand out from other applicants.
It is an excellent opportunity to share your story and why you would make a good addition to the university. Admission officers are looking to understand your background, personality and values.
While this adds a lot of pressure on your college essay, there is no need to worry just yet. Here are five tips on how to write an essay that will help you stand apart from other applicants:
How to write an essay to nail your college application:
Grab the reader from the start
Grab a reader’s attention from the start —remember that you are competing with hundreds of other applicants.
Let’s start with the thesis statement: the backbone of your essay and the first sentence a reader will read.
Start your essay with a clear sentence that immediately seizes the reader’s imagination.
You could start with a bold statement, a quote, a question or even a descriptive scene.
Beginning with a powerful and clear thesis statement will ensure your reader is hooked and help you with the writing process.
Try something different
Admissions officers read an unbelievable number of college essays.
Many students would write essays with facts, figures and their past experiences — so try something different by writing an essay that your grades can’t capture.
After all, colleges are interested in learning about who you are as a person and what you can bring to the incoming class.
It doesn’t matter if you have yet started your own business or spent the summer volunteering.
Share your unique qualities or what you learned from your losses and how it inspired your educational journey.
Bring your essay to life using details, examples and vivid imagery. Source: David Becker/AFP
Show, don’t tell
Instead of simply stating facts and information, try to get your reader to visualise what you are trying to say.
Writing the sequence of events can be dull, so bring your story to life by showing the reader what you mean.
Take “I like to play football”, for example.
You could say:
“My heart was beating fast as I ran across the court to make the shot — two seconds on the clock, one second — and score!”
The results? Your essay will be more memorable, clear and enjoyable for your reader.
It’s easy to procrastinate.
When it comes to writing your college essay, however, it is best to start early to give yourself enough time to perfect it.
Before you start, coming up with a topic will take up a fair share of brainstorming.
By starting early, you will have time to write several drafts and make edits before you reach your final copy. . Drafting allows you to put your ideas on paper to rethink and rewrite them.
With this, you can ask yourself whether your ideas are relevant and logical or if additional information is required.
Proofread your essay
So, you finished writing.
You might be tempted to submit your essay and not have to look at it again.
But taking a second look can help you nail your college essay more than you think.
Coming back to your work after a few hours or even a day — if you have the time — will allow you to spot any subtle mistakes you may not have noticed.
However, you might miss out on some minor mistakes — even with a fresh set of eyes.
Thankfully, many tools and resources are available online to help you with this.
Currently, the best app on the market for this is Grammarly .
The website uses artificial intelligence to review your spelling, grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. The app even provides suggestions to rephrase your sentences.
All you have to do is upload your essay on the website, wait a few seconds, and the tool will run through any mistakes made.
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- ACADEMIC ADVICE
How to Write a College Essay That Will Impress the Admission Committee
- March 15, 2021
Table of Contents
Start the process early, read through the application essay guidelines, brainstorm topic ideas, choose a topic, brainstorm details that support your topic, organize your details into an outline format, grab the attention with an appealing introduction, open yourself up, write about something important to you, steer clear of clichés, keep the reader wondering where it’s going, edit, edit, edit, have someone review your essay.
When the time comes for you to start applying to colleges , most parts of your application, like your GPA, test scores, and list of activities, have already been or are close to being completed. However, one thing you still have total control over is your college entrance essay. You can make mistakes and write blocks of texts you are not content with, then have the option to go online, search how to write a college application essay, learn from our tips and tricks, and try again.
This type of essay gives you the chance to express your personality, vision, and future plans to the admissions committee. The tips we have compiled on how to write a college essay will simply help you express yourself through a good organizational structure, not confine you to a set of rules you must follow. Let’s begin!
It is never too early to begin working on your essay, even if all you do is conjure up ideas in your head. The earlier you start, the more time you have to write multiple drafts and perfect your final one.
We would advise you to start working on your college essay before your senior year if the school you want to apply to has released their writing prompts. The summer is a great time to brainstorm and get some drafts done because you rarely have to deal with school activities and might have more free time.
We understand that applying for college is an important step in your life. And as with many other life-altering things, you might be anxious about this process . That anxiety can lead to procrastination until you are a few days away from the application deadline and rushing to finish the essay. Remind yourself that good things take time. If you want to turn in the best version of your essay, start early and work as much as you can on it.
Although it might seem like common knowledge, it is worth reminding you to read the instructions carefully. You must be able to organize and write down your thoughts with the page and word limit in mind. Thoroughly following the guidelines will show the admissions committee that you can and will follow the directions of their program.
Ignoring the guidelines set by the college would help you stand out but not in a good way. Instead, try standing out with your writing and the insights you make in your essay.
Create an Essay Plan
It might seem tempting to sit down, write whatever comes to your head, go over it once or twice and then turn it in. But, skipping straight to the writing part without planning will probably result in some major issues. The essay could need more editing, have a weaker structure, and even miss some guideline points. All things that will influence the way the admissions committee perceives you as a student.
The safest route is to create an outline that helps organize your thoughts and ideas before writing. This approach will help you better develop each part of your essay and save you time in editing . Follow the below-mentioned steps to put together a simple outline.
Sit down and list all the topics you consider writing about. At this stage, you should not be critical of the quality of the concepts you come up with. Instead, prioritize quantity and get as many topic ideas on paper as possible. Try setting a timer of 10-15 minutes for each brainstorming session you have. Also, be prepared to write down any ideas you might think of during the day while dealing with other tasks.
After you compile the list of topics, start evaluating each idea. Look for ones that fit the prompt but also interest you as a writer. Then, proceed to shorten your list until you find the one.
After choosing the subject, you should brainstorm ideas of what details you will use in the essay body. Try to write your topic in the middle of a paper and then jot down around any ideas that support it. Once again, do not be critical of what you write at this point. Like with the title, you can eliminate unfitting ones later.
A basic map of your essay should include an introduction, a body of details, and a conclusion. Now, you can look through the list of details and decide which ones fit where, and then eliminate the rest. This way, you can create a general outline of what your essay should look like and then begin writing based on it.
The opening lines can make or break your essay. You should have a strong hook that will attract the attention of the admission committee reading it. Remember that these people read hundreds, if not thousands, of applications from students. Aim to write something that will engage the reader and hint at the quality essay they are about to read.
With every hook idea, ask yourself: If I were the reader, would I be interested in reading this piece?
The focus of your essay should not be on the experience per se but on how that experience relates to you. Write about how you felt and how that occurrence changed you and your values. Expressing your feelings and struggles will not make you seem weak. On the contrary, there is a lot of strength in vulnerability. The readers will connect more with you and your essay when you show them that you face challenges and have flaws but are willing to work on them.
Don’t just write what you believe the admission committee wants to read. Instead, make the essay as personal as you can. Write about something important to you: a person, book, cause, experience, or anything that has had a deep impact on you and the person you are. Don’t simply describe the object or explain the event. Always relate how these things impact who you are today and who you want to be in the future.
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Like you, many students are searching for helpful tips on how to tackle their college entrance essays. You all might have come across the same examples of writings and are using them as inspiration for your own. This way, many students end up using the same phrases and cliches in their pieces.
The whole purpose of such an essay is to distinguish you from the others, showcase your personality and views. It is one of the elements that help the committee choose the students that would best fit their program. So, re-read that essay, and remove all phrases and sentences that sound like clichés. Aim to be authentic, original, and prove to the admission committee that you would be a unique and valuable asset for their college.
Do you know that feeling when you are so invested in a movie that you stand at the edge of your seat, not hearing anything that goes around you and questioning what they will do next? That is the feeling you want to elicit with your essay.
Write some dramatic and mysterious lines that keep the reader wondering about what plot twist might take place. Pose questions you think they might have, and then provide the answers throughout your essay. Some degree of predictability is acceptable, but do not risk losing the reader’s attention.
After you have spent hours upon hours working on your essay, it might be tempting to leave it as soon as you write the last line. But, the editing stage is just as important as the writing one. This step can help take your essay from good to excellent. So, trust us, you don’t want to skip it!
When you finish your essay, take a break and then come back to it. Try reading it aloud, or even having someone else read it to you, and evaluate everything again. Was the introduction captivating enough? Does that sentence sound too confusing? Did you overuse a word? Make a note of everything you do not like and go back to fix it.
Except for the content, you should also pay close attention to any grammatical and spelling errors. Read it once, twice, ten times if you have to until you are happy with the results.
Lastly, before you submit it, have someone else read and review the essay. A fresh pair of eyes who have not been working on the text for hours might notice some slips easier than you. Ask a professor, parent, college counselor, or friend for help. Then, make any necessary changes, and you can mark it complete.
Many students might have a GPA identical to yours, but if you truly dedicate yourself to writing an essay that is uniquely you, then you can set yourself apart from all the other candidates. Remember to take your time, be honest, and be creative. Give it your best shot today and you will help create a better tomorrow for yourself.
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The college essay offers you an opportunity to tell admissions officers a bit about you and demonstrate why you'd be a good fit for their student body. It can seem daunting to get your essay off the ground, but take it step by step with these tips.
Jump to Section
- Before you start
- Writing your essay
- Review and revise
Before You Start
Do some self-exploration. Your college essay is all about showcasing yourself. Think about the strengths and interests you would most like colleges to know about you. What are you passionate about? What's most important to you? What are you best at?
If you need to pick the topic, be focused and specific. Writing about a single experience is usually a good idea; your essay should prove a single point or message. Try to avoid cliché topics like "winning a big game," taking a trip or even dealing with a death, these will not help your application stand out from the group.
Show your thoughtfulness. Be thoughtful in both your topic choice and the tone of your writing. Colleges look for students who have dealt with adversity, have overcome challenges and continue to grow from their experience. Admitting shortcomings is a sign of maturity and intelligence, so there is no need to portray yourself as a superhero; they will see through it.
Get started early. Self-exploration can be fun, but don't procrastinate on the actual writing. You don't want to rush or be up against a tight deadline; it will affect your work.
Create an essay outline. Sometimes creating an outline for your essay can help you get started. It will also help you organize your thoughts and develop a framework.
Writing Your Essay
Read the instructions and follow them. Be conscious of any length limits, and, if the topic is provided for you, analyze the question carefully. You want to be aware of everything they ask and answer everything thoroughly.
10 Tips for Writing a Strong Essay
Use your own voice. Don't use big words just for the sake of using big words. They can distract from the essay when misused. Remember, this essay is about you, so use words you normally use.
Use quotations and examples to show personal detail. Instead of just stating your point of view, you want to make your reader feel the experience. Adding detail will help illustrate your story. But don't use quotations simply to use them; make sure they make sense within the tone of your essay.
Try to be concise. While adding personal detail is good, you don't want to be wordy or long-winded; short sentences can be more powerful.
Don't use slang words. Generally speaking, slang words conjure the feeling of someone being unpolished, uncaring or not that serious. These are three things you don't want your admissions reader thinking about you. Likewise, avoid clichés and overuse of contractions.
Be honest. The point of this essay is to show who you are, not who you wish you were. Stick to what you know and your true personality will shine through.
Don't be afraid to use humor if it's part of who you are. Admissions officers can have a sense of humor too, and, when used appropriately, humor can make you stand out. However, don't make being funny one of your top goals in your college essay.
Review and Revise
Step away from your essay and come back later. Sometimes it helps to take a break from your work and come back in a few days. Review what you've written and make sure it still makes sense and conveys what you want it to.
Write multiple drafts. Sometimes you need to write a couple of drafts to get your essay right where you want it.
Type your essay. No matter how good your essay, if people can't read your handwriting they won't appreciate the work.
Proofread your essay. You want to make sure you've used proper spelling, grammar and punctuation, so ask an expert to proofread your essay.
Get feedback from others. Ask your friends and family to read your essay and tell you what they think. Be open to suggestions and ways to improve it, even if this means going back to the drawing board.
Revise if necessary. You want to edit your essay down to what is important. Make every word count!
Be prepared for every step from picking a school to making a decision.
See the steps to take at each grade level so you can be prepared.
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I asked ChatGPT to write college admissions essays and then sent them to expert tutors to review. Read the full essays.
I got OpenAI's ChatGPT to write some college admissions essays and asked tutors to review them.
Two experts said they passed for student essays and may have had a shot at less selective colleges.
Here are two of the essays they reviewed.
I asked OpenAI's ChatGPT to write some college admissions essays and sent them to two expert tutors to review. Both said the essays passed for a real student's work and might even stand up at some less-selective colleges.
Kevin Wong, Princeton University alumnus and cofounder of tutoring service PrepMaven, told Insider he knew of some students that had been admitted to colleges with lower-quality essays than the ones I generated. Adam Nguyen, the founder of tutoring company Ivy Link , said the essays were exemplary of what a very mediocre student would produce.
Both Wong and Nguyen praised the grammar and structure of the essays and criticized the lack of personal experiences and unique feelings. Nguyen called the essays "over-predictable" and they both agreed the essays wouldn't have had a chance at any top universities.
ChatGPT's essays were based on some old questions from the Common App , a widely used application process across the US. At first, the chatbot said it wouldn't write the essays for me, telling me it was "important that the admissions essay reflects the applicant's own thoughts, experiences, and writing style."
However, after prompting it to give me some examples of how I could answer the questions and then asking it to write me a "specific example answer" based on one of these, it generated some full-length essays. The process took around 10 minutes.
Here are two of the essays the tutors reviewed:
1. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
For the first essay, I asked the chatbot to write about an artistic or creative pursuit that consumes my free time and how it has allowed me to express myself. I also asked the bot to use vivid examples to illustrate the points. Here's what I got:
I have always been drawn to photography, but it wasn't until my senior year of high school that I really started to explore the art form. I signed up for a photography class on a whim, and quickly became obsessed with capturing the world around me through my lens.
What I love about photography is that it allows me to see the world in a new way. When I'm out shooting, I am constantly searching for beauty and interest in unexpected places. I find myself drawn to the interplay of light and shadow, the details that others might overlook, and the fleeting moments that can be captured and preserved forever.
As I have delved deeper into the art of photography, I have also found that it provides a powerful outlet for self-expression. Through my photos, I am able to convey my thoughts and feelings in a way that words alone cannot. When I'm behind the camera, I feel a sense of creative freedom and possibility that I haven't found in any other medium.
One project that I'm particularly proud of is a series of portraits that I took of my friends and family. I wanted to capture their personalities and essence in a way that was both honest and beautiful. I spent hours experimenting with lighting, posing, and composition to create images that felt true to who they are. When I showed them the final product, they were amazed by how I had managed to capture their essence in a single frame.
In addition to the personal satisfaction I get from creating art, I also love the way that photography allows me to connect with others. When I share my photos online or in a gallery, I am always amazed by the way that people respond to them. They see things that I might have missed, or they connect with the emotions that I was trying to convey. It's an incredible feeling to know that my art has touched someone else's life in a meaningful way.
When I want to learn more about photography, I turn to a variety of resources. I subscribe to photography magazines, follow photographers on social media, and take workshops whenever I can. But mostly, I learn by doing. I experiment with different techniques and styles, and I'm always looking for new ways to challenge myself and push my creativity to new heights.
In conclusion, photography is an artistic pursuit that consumes my free time and allows me to express myself in new and meaningful ways. Through this medium, I have discovered a new way of seeing the world, and a powerful tool for self-expression and connection.
2. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
For the second essay, I asked the chatbot to give me a specific example of failing at a project or task and learning from the experience. I didn't specify the kind of language it should use or the length.
During my junior year of high school, I was part of a team that was tasked with creating a new product for a national entrepreneurship competition. We had several months to develop the product, write a business plan, and create a pitch to present to a panel of judges. However, we underestimated the amount of time and resources we needed and ended up rushing through the final stages of the project.
As a result, our pitch was poorly prepared, and we didn't do well in the competition. I was devastated at the time, as I had invested a lot of time and effort into the project. However, I decided to take a step back and reflect on what went wrong.
I realized that our team lacked effective communication and project management skills. We didn't delegate tasks effectively, and we didn't set clear goals or timelines. I also realized that I had a tendency to take on too much responsibility and not ask for help when I needed it.
To address these issues, I decided to take a project management course and read books on effective teamwork and communication. I also started practicing delegation and setting clearer goals and timelines for myself and my team.
The following year, I participated in the same entrepreneurship competition with a new team. This time, we were much more organized and prepared, and we ended up winning first place at the regional level. This experience taught me the importance of effective communication, project management, and learning from failure.
Read the original article on Business Insider
Can ChatGPT Write My College Essay?
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- College faculty fear students might use ChatGPT to compose essay assignments.
- Similarly, high school students may be tempted to use the chatbot to write college application essays.
- ChatGPT generates usable content that often lacks personality and authenticity.
- The use of ChatGPT poses ethical and moral dilemmas around plagiarism and cheating.
It's just about 11 p.m. on a Tuesday night, and your 2,000-word essay on Chaucer is due by 9 a.m., when English 525 next meets in Bennett Hall. Panicked, you review your sketchy notes and your few lines of text, incoherent blather about pilgrims and social upheaval and corruption and conflict and … dear God, why did I take this course? I've got nothing.
Yet you quickly remember salvation lies a few keystrokes away in the form of a chatbot brimming with artificial intelligence on every subject known to man, including Chaucer. You toggle over to OpenAI, log in to ChatGPT, and type in your query.
Bam! Instant essay. And it's actually pretty good, hitting on all the key points and making convincing arguments. The writing isn't exactly deathless prose, but it'll suffice. You can tweak it a bit to make it sound more like you. At least the hard part is over. Rest easy, fair squire.
Nationwide, millions of college students wrestle with this temptation, causing wary faculty members to rethink their assignments for lack of trust.
What's more, even before they arrive on campus, students are using ChatGPT to write personal statements for their college applications.
Some say ChatGPT has ruined the essay. Others aren't nearly as concerned.
Can ChatGPT Write College-Level Essays?
It most certainly can, though with certain limitations. And it's not exactly ethical.
Here's what the chatbot itself had to say about the matter:
ChatGPT is a powerful language model that can generate text on a wide range of topics, including college-level content. However, it is important to note that while ChatGPT can generate text that may resemble a college-level essay, it does not have the ability to understand the subject matter or the purpose of the essay, and therefore it may not be able to write a high-quality, well-researched, and well-argued essay.
Additionally, using text generated by ChatGPT as if it were your own work in a college setting would be considered plagiarism, and it is generally not accepted by educational institutions. It is important to use the generated text as a tool for inspiration, and not as a final submission.
Such meta self-reflection is rather ironic: an AI-generated essay on the limitations of the AI-generated essay.
Yet faculty have every reason to be concerned, and they are. In his Inside Higher Ed piece titled " Freaking Out About ChatGPT ," John Warner says he fed it "a bunch of sample questions from past AP exams in literature, history and political science, and it crushed them."
This clearly has implications for college-level assignments.
Thus far, colleges haven't freaked out enough to ban the use of ChatGPT — that is, no colleges in the U.S. One French university, known colloquially as Sciences Po, prohibits its students from using the tool.
At the K-12 level, the New York City Department of Education announced in January its blockage of ChatGPT on school devices, citing its " negative impacts on student learning, and concerns regarding the safety and accuracy of content." A month earlier, the Los Angeles Unified School District did the same thing .
Not that colleges aren't paying close attention and responding to this emerging threat.
Montclair State University, for example, offers its faculty advice on how to design assignments, give exams, and recognize bot-driven content.
Some of these recommendations echo what others in higher ed are saying: Assign in-class work. Have students collaborate in groups. Link writing prompts to current events (ChatGPT's bank of knowledge doesn't extend beyond 2021). Make students write papers by hand .
Others go so far as to tout the benefits of ChatGPT, saying it helps students overcome writer's block, discover ideas to guide their writing, and see examples of competent grammar and punctuation usage. Students whose first language isn't English might find it especially valuable.
People in this camp don't buy into the notion that the emergence of artificial intelligence signals the arrival of the educational apocalypse.
"I'm not a huge fan of the gloom and doom," said Pennsylvania State University English professor Stuart Selber , "Every year or two, there's something that's ostensibly going to take down higher education as we know it. So far, that hasn't happened."
Above all, academics say, be more creative with assignments. Avoid generic questions ChatGPT can easily answer. Require students to draw on their own experience and reflect on moments in ways a chatbot couldn't possibly offer.
"Time for a new final exam, one that demands students find out something about themselves and tell it to you in a voice that is their own," University of Iowa English professor Blaine Greteman wrote in Newsweek . "To do that, they will have to feel something, and find a form to express it that makes you feel it too. No machine will ever be able to replicate that."
A current Princeton student agrees.
"If students are being assigned essays that can be written by ChatGPT," Christopher Lidard wrote in The Daily Princetonian, "perhaps it's not a good assignment in the first place."
So if your assignment asked you to choose a character from "The Canterbury Tales" and relate their story to some aspect of your own journey, would you find ChatGPT a viable substitute for individual expression?
Using ChatGPT to Craft College Application Essays
Perhaps you're already familiar with essay prompts requiring meaningful self-reflection. Many college application essays follow that very prescription.
If you're already in college, especially a junior or senior taking 500-level courses on Chaucer, you likely didn't have the opportunity to ask a chatbot for help with your admissions essays. It's a relatively recent phenomenon, one that's certainly getting the attention of admissions offices everywhere.
"There is some consternation in the admissions space about these technologies," said Anthony Lising Antonio , associate professor of education at Stanford, "and with obvious good reason."
Folks at Forbes had fun with ChatGPT, asking it to write college admissions essays based on specific background information on two students. Each took about 10 minutes to complete. And the results were fairly decent. For students not especially eager to attend a particular school but needing to submit something plausible, this approach might suffice.
But it's hardly the stuff of admissions-office lore.
That's because the typical output from ChatGPT and similar bots lacks soul and individuality, qualities admissions officers seek. Counselors at Ivy Experience, a college essay and admissions coaching firm, say students should offer " personal, authentic details " about themselves.
After toying with ChatGPT, the Ivy staff found the results brimming with emotion yet all too generic.
"These are broad, sweeping, grand statements written with emotional language and sentiments, but there is no substance," they concluded . … "There are no personal insights, details, or anecdotes."
Details, they claim, are the "key ingredient to vulnerability and authenticity."
New York Times columnist David Brooks concurs.
"It's often bland and vague," he writes about AI-generated content. "It's missing a humanistic core. It's missing an individual person's passion, pain, longings and a life of deeply felt personal experiences. It does not spring from a person's imagination, bursts of insight, anxiety and joy that underlie any profound work of human creativity."
Instead of emphasizing the traditional essay, some suggest, college admissions officers should encourage students to express themselves in other ways. Expand the use of interviews and urge students to submit videos, advise Mike Dunn and Chris Horne . At the same time, embrace the inevitability of ChatGPT and similar tools, laying ground rules about their use and limitations.
"This is an opportunity for college admissions stakeholders to collectively brainstorm novel approaches to this novel issue," they conclude .
So … Should ChatGPT Write Your College Essays?
That's up to each student to decide based on their moral compass. Passing off AI-generated content as your own may or may not constitute plagiarism , but it certainly is ethically dubious. If you get caught, the ramifications could be serious. It's a high-stakes gamble.
Yet the more salient question is this: Do you want artificial intelligence replacing your own? Do you want to express your thoughts and views, your unique take on the world, or do you want a computer to do that for you?
A chatbot might have a lot to say about Chaucer, but it's only what others have written. It's a good start, one that might prompt you to consider new ideas, but ultimately it's up to you to process that information, form your own thoughts, and communicate in your own words.
By now it's pushing 11:30, and you're still staring at random collections of sentence fragments and a cursor taunting you and your writer's block with every blink. Procrastination is not your friend.
But there's still time. For better than never is late.
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Tips For Writing Common App Essay Prompts 2023
The Common Application , also known as the Common App, is an undergraduate college admission application that is accepted by over 900 colleges and universities in the United States and around the world. One of the most important components of the Common App is the essay, which is an opportunity for students to showcase their personality, experiences, and writing skills to college admissions officers. In this blog we discuss the Common App essay prompts for 2023.
What are Common App essays?
What are Common App essays? The Common App essays are part of the Common Application, which is a standardized college application used by over 900 colleges and universities in the United States and around the world.
The Common App essays are an opportunity for students to showcase their personality, experiences, and writing skills to college admissions officers. There are seven essay prompts to choose from, each designed to elicit a specific type of response from the applicant.
The essays are an important component of the application and can help admissions officers understand who the applicant is beyond their grades and test scores. The essays are typically 650 words or less and can be submitted as part of the Common Application.
Why are Common App essays important?
Why are Common App essays important? The Common App essays are important because they provide a unique opportunity for college applicants to showcase their personality, experiences, and writing skills to college admissions officers.
While other parts of the application, such as grades and test scores, provide important quantitative data, the Common App essay prompts provide a qualitative view of the applicant. The essays can help admissions officers understand who the applicant is beyond their academic achievements and give them a sense of the applicant’s values, interests, and life experiences.
In addition, the essays can help set an applicant apart from others with similar academic profiles. A well-written essay that showcases an applicant’s strengths and unique qualities can be a deciding factor in the admissions process. Admissions officers want to build a diverse and interesting class, and the essays can help them identify applicants who will bring a unique perspective to the college community.
Common App essay prompts
Check out the Common App essay prompts for 2022 to 2023:
Essay 1: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, please share your story.
This prompt invites students to share a personal story that highlights a unique aspect of their identity or background. It’s important to remember that admissions officers are interested in learning about the person behind the application, so don’t be afraid to share a personal anecdote that showcases your values, beliefs, or interests.
Then talk about how this piece of information, revelation, reflection, experience, talent, or interest affects who you are and how you see the world. In short, why do you think the information you chose is important to you, and how does it shape how you see yourself? How does what you told me to help me get ready for the future? How does it change the way you interact with the rest of the world?
Essay 2: The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
This prompt from the common app essay prompts encourages students to reflect on a difficult experience and the lessons they learned from it. The key to a successful essay is not just to describe the challenge but to explain how it impacted you and how you grew as a result.
Give a clear description of the problem, setback, or failure you faced. Talk about what you learned from the experience, how it affects you every day, and how it changed the way you think. Don’t talk about the setback itself. Instead, talk about what you learned about yourself and how it changed the way you think or act.
Did it make you want to do something? What can you learn from this that could help you succeed in the future? You may have learned that working hard pays off. Or that having balance in your life is important? Or that you want to change the way you act in the future? If you can, talk about how you overcame a similar problem in the future by using what you learned and coming out on top.
As you write your essay and think about this experience, keep in mind that the point of this response is to show that you are strong.
Essay 3: Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
This prompt invites students to share a moment when they took a critical look at their beliefs and values. Admissions officers are interested in seeing that you can think critically and independently, so be sure to explain your thought process and what you learned from the experience.
You can either talk about what you did and how it affected things or explain why you didn’t do anything. Tell a story about a time when you stood up for something or gave it a lot of thought. Explain what caused the problem that made you think about taking action.
How did you come up with that? What did you think about as you thought about the problem? What happened, and how did it affect you and other people? Talk about why this is so important to you. Don’t forget to show how much you care about the issue. What do your actions and decisions say about who you are?
Then think about whether you would make the same choice again and why you would or wouldn’t. Make sure that your values and beliefs come across clearly. What lessons did you learn from this?
Essay 4: Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
This is the fourth of the seven Common App essay prompts. This question is based on the ideas of being thankful and being kind. It is based on research that shows that thinking about the good things people have done for you makes you happier and more likely to be successful. If you choose to answer this prompt, you can show that you care about people. It makes you want to share happiness and thanks.
Depending on how you answer this question , you will be able to talk about something specific that someone did for you that helped you and how they inspired you. As you write your essay, think about how what that person did affected others.
It could have been a teacher, a friend, a member of the family, or even a stranger. Why did this person’s support, action, comment, or gesture surprise you? Tell us what made you happy or made you feel grateful. Why did this matter to you? What made you want to do something differently? How did it make you see yourself or the world differently?
Essay 5: Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
This question from the common app essay prompts gives you more ways to talk about your own growth. It asks you to think about who you were before a time when you changed a lot, and then to think about how that changed how you see yourself and the people around you (family, community, world).
Think about how you might have become more independent, learned more about yourself, or grown to feel responsible for yourself. Give a lot of background information as you describe your chosen accomplishment, event, or realization, and then focus on how it shows a big change in your life. Why did you care so much about this event?
You can think about this in terms of your culture, neighborhood, or family. Go one step further and talk about how this new knowledge of yourself or others motivates you and how it might help you in the future.
Essay 6: Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
This is your chance to talk about something that really interests you. The range is very wide, but the main question is about what you find interesting, why, and how you try to improve your intellectual skills.
Do you have people in your life who can help you? What got your attention? How do you find ways to learn new things? How do you find information and put it all together? You need to explain why you are so interested in this topic, idea, or concept.
Your talk should show how excited, curious, and passionate you are! Think about how you could learn more about this subject or idea in the future. How could your plans for the future help you with what you’re doing now?
Essay 7: Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
While this is the last of the seven Common App essay prompts, it is also arguably the hardest. The question is broad and is meant to be that way. Use this as a chance to write about whatever you want! A word of warning to those who see this essay prompt as an easy way to avoid writing a new essay by using an old one: don’t just upload the last essay you got an “A” on in English or History class.
No matter what topic you choose, give yourself some extra time to edit. This essay should be a great example of how good a writer you are, and it should also show something important about you. Think about what you want the committee that decides who gets in to know about you and your life.
Think about what the essay might say about who you are as a person. What does it say about how you think, what you value, who you are, and how you see the world? What could it add to the rest of your application?
Give yourself some time to think about your life if none of the essays prompts jump out at you right away. Talk about your ideas with your parents and teachers. You will eventually find a topic that interests you and says something important about you.
Your essay doesn’t have to be about something brand new. But it should show your own unique point of view and show who you are at your best. Think about what you value and why you value it. This is your chance to make yourself stand out from the other applicants .
Be thoughtful, and don’t forget that this is your chance to make a good impression. Keep in mind that all the schools that use the Common Application want to find out more about you through your essays.
Learn more about Common App essay prompts and how to best answer them by consulting with college admissions specialists like the ones found here in AdmissionSight. At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process to get accepted to the top universities in the world. Feel free to set up an appointment today to book your initial consultation .
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How to Write a College Application Essay – Step by Step Guide - موقع جيمزيوب
- How to Write a College Application Essay – Step by Step Guide
All the application tests have been completed, the tests have been taken and now it’s time for you to show your personality and show yourself to the admissions officers through a great college application essay. This is going to take you days to write and minutes to read for the admissions officer, so you need to make your work as captivating as possible to keep them interested. If you’re not sure that you can write an appropriate application essay, a good writing service might increase your chances. You can check the myassignmenthelp review and many others on scamfighter before ordering something.
Using only 250-650 words to express your uniqueness to the admissions office and have a chance of being accepted can put a lot of pressure on you. But if you do it correctly by following the step-by-step guide on writing a college admissions essay discussed here, you will create an engaging essay with a word count of 250, 500, or 650.
Here, we have critically discussed the steps to produce a well-structured persuasive essay.
- Read the instructions carefully Colleges that require essays or personal statements from applicants usually give instructions, such as essay topics from which you can choose, word count, font, format, and general structuring of your essay. Following the instructions or guidelines of the essay is just as important as writing it and where your chance of being accepted or rejected lies.
This is one of the first steps to take when writing a college admission essay. It may seem redundant to you that this is the first step and there is no need to talk about it. But trust me, it is important to note. With all the excitement, stress, and pressure you would feel during this time, you might completely forget to read the instructions.
Also, when you write your college application essay without following the stated rules, college admissions officials will simply assume that you won’t be able to follow the school’s program instructions and instantly set you up for rejection. These instructions were presented for a reason and you must organize your essay to meet the instructions.
After reading the instructions carefully, you can begin to organize your application essay outline and be ready to start writing.
- Start with a strong hook I discussed somewhere above how to start an introduction to a college essay and I mentioned something about starting with a compelling introduction is also the same as starting with a strong hook. Your introduction needs to start with something really exciting that will grab the reader’s attention and not want to stop them from reading.
It should be inviting, interesting, engaging and captivating. It should show the reader what your essay is about and grab their attention from there. The introduction is how you, as a college applicant, tell admissions officers that you are unique and show how you stand out from other applicants.
You can start the introduction with a story that demonstrates some of your personality and character, just a tip to draw the reader in. Remember, don’t give everything away in the introduction, just offer a glimpse that will help admissions officers see how unique you are and want to know more about you.
- Demonstrate your uniqueness of authenticity This is the third step in professional college admission essay writing, read on to see what it entails.
Now that you’ve successfully completed the first part, which is the introduction, and captivated the reader, you need to continue this. It should be more engaging, captivating, convincing and all to keep the admissions officer interested.
To do this, use your inner voice and your essay should be based on your specific beliefs. Remember, these colleges are looking for authenticity and quality thinking skills in applicants. Therefore, do not use common or traditional phrases or ideas. Just be yourself and get it done.
I am sure you still remember that the college application essay is your opportunity to demonstrate who you are. Therefore, leave no stone unturned regarding your current knowledge of your chosen program and how it will meet your goals, determination, skills and ambition.
Write about the things you have learned and your growth so far, how your skills and knowledge can positively affect the school and the experiences that are unique to you. This is the largest part of the essay and includes many paragraphs and word count.
Note that the essay has a capitalized word, so don’t waste it telling an event. Give value to each word.
- Provide appropriate examples to support your idea This is the fourth guide on how to professionally write a college admission essay.
This essay you are about to write is meant to demonstrate to admissions officers the practicality of your mind, that is, how your mind and perspective of the world works. Now, you need to make sure that your essay supports that perspective.
Take your time and connect the essay question to yourself, and then you can start writing from that perspective. This means that whatever idea you are expressing, you are not just stating facts, but go ahead and add specific details and examples to develop your ideas.
To do this, provide specific examples of your unique experiences, write about what really motivates you and how you were able to develop a certain belief.
- Organize your essay Our fifth step on how to write a college admission essay is to carefully organize your essay.
In addition to organizing your essay to meet the instructions, you also need to organize your essay so that it flows in a specific direction. This should already be common knowledge and you should know better than to just write a bunch of meaningless words.
You can write about different things, but it should be meaningful, well-organized and unrelated to the topic. Have them flow in direct order.
Before you start writing, create and organize an essay structure or outline. It should be divided into an introduction, body and conclusion.
Note that your conclusion is just as important as your introduction, therefore, strengthen it and go out with a bang!
- The proofreading stage Finally, this is the last step on how to professionally write a college admission essay and it involves proofreading and editing everything.
“To err is human…” is a statement that works all the time in the content writing space. You should always make mistakes when writing content and a college application essay is not left out. Indeed, you cannot avoid making mistakes such as grammar errors, spelling errors, punctuation errors, etc. but it is also true that you can avoid these mistakes and create an error-free essay.
What I am basically saying is that it is possible to create the perfect essay where there are no errors of any kind. And this last step is what will help you.
The proofreading stage is where you read and re-read your essay over and over again. During this process, you can note the mistakes you missed while writing and correct them. After correction, you revise it again to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
The proofreading step is not a solo step, you will need to get others to proofread for you and help you point out any mistakes you may have missed. To do this, simply make copies and give them to your parents, siblings, teachers, and close friends and tell them to use another colored pen to circle where they see an error.
After a few days, get all the copies back and compare notes. Pay attention to the most common mistakes. However, if you don’t want to release your essay to everyone, maybe for some reason you are sensitive about the content, then get professional help, and by that I mean your teacher or school counselor.
Teachers and school counselors are professionals who help high school students with their college essays, and you need to let one or both of them know about your essay so they can start helping you from the beginning.
Use all of these six steps to writing a college admissions essay, along with the tips I’ve provided below, and you’ll create a polished essay that any admissions official won’t want to read. And from there, you’ve passed a very important requirement and increased your chances of being accepted.
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Explain how to write a résumé or college application essay.
Be sure to save an electronic copy of your answer before submitting it for grading. Unless otherwise stated, answer in complete sentences, and be sure to use correct English, spelling and grammar. Sources must be cited in APA format. Your response should be a minimum of two (2) double-spaced pages to a maximum of three (3) pages in length; refer to the “Assignment Format” page located on the Course Home page for specific format requirements.
Using what you’ve learned in Lessons 1 and 2, as well as Lesson 4, write a well-developed process analysis essay on one of the following topics:
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Be yourself: The essay is your chance to show the admissions committee who you are as a person. Be honest and authentic in your writing. Choose a topic that matters to you: The best essays are those that come from the heart. Pick a topic that is meaningful to you and that you are passionate about.
The essay you write for your college application can make you stand out from the stacks and stacks of papers collecting dust on a college admission officer's desk. Here are four tips on how to get through the essay writing process. 1. Be yourself: Stick to what you know. Write in your own voice. You can't fake the real thing.
Many colleges require you to submit an essay, written by you, as part of your application. They may ask you to respond to a question or prompt. This application essay is your opportunity to show colleges your personality and how you think. You can use the essay to demonstrate what you can bring to a campus and to stand out from other applicants.
Answer (1 of 26): One feature of a successful college admissions essay -- and essays in general, I think, is that the question you're answering isn't immediately ...
Don't summarize. Avoid explicitly stating the point of your essay. It's far less effective when you spell it out for someone. Delete every single "That's when I realized," "I learned," and "The most important lesson was...". It's unnecessary, unconvincing, and takes the reader out of the moment.
The college essay can make or break your application. It's your chance to provide personal context, communicate your values and qualities, and set yourself apart from other students. A standout essay has a few key ingredients: A unique, personal topic A compelling, well-structured narrative A clear, creative writing style
Ask someone to proofread your essay or to offer feedback—but be sure your essay is written in your own voice and style. It won't serve you well for someone else to write your essay for you! Stay within the required—or suggested—length. Usually it is about 650 words. This shows that you can follow directions.
The essay should be 650 words, which might sound like a lot at first, but you will be surprised by how quickly you reach that limit once you get going. Most of the students I work with end up...
Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a College Application Essay 1. Explore essay prompts and select a topic. 2. Start your college essay outline before jumping in. 3. Write the essay...
2. Have a great opener. The person reading your essay will be reading stacks of them, so getting their attention right away is a great way to get the reader's interest immediately. You could start with a quote, or a piece of advice you once received, or even a provocative way of setting up the theme of your essay.
Writing the College Application Essay. After deciding on an outline structure and format, start writing the essay. Try to keep the college common application essay narrow and focus on reaching the word count. Start with the main idea and follow it from the beginning to the end. Never copy from any other source.
The opening paragraph is your first (and sometimes only) chance to grab firmly the attention of admission officials, so don't create a lazy intro that simply sums up what you'll discuss. Be vivid, clear and original; try piquing their interest with an anecdote or poignant question. Give your intro an element of mystery and intrigue ...
College essays are important because they let you reveal your personality. Learn how brainstorming and planning can help you write your best college essays. Browse Topic
"When applying to college we were told about a kid that applied to Harvard. Their prompt asked them to propose their own question and answer it. The kid asked himself "Do you play the trombone?"...
After you've read through the instructions a few times and gathered your notes, you can start creating an outline to organize your essay and decide what message you want to send. Now you're ready to write your first draft. 2. Start with a compelling introduction. Great writing is hard to achieve, but it's possible if you're smart about it.
Here are a few college application essay tips to help you craft your essay. 1. Choose the Topic Wisely Your commitment is important. Once you are committed to writing an essay, put all of your energy in finding the right topic. This first step is the trickiest. Try to find a topic that you are passionate about.
Grab the reader from the start. Grab a reader's attention from the start —remember that you are competing with hundreds of other applicants. Let's start with the thesis statement: the backbone of your essay and the first sentence a reader will read. Start your essay with a clear sentence that immediately seizes the reader's imagination.
When the time comes for you to start applying to colleges, most parts of your application, like your GPA, test scores, and list of activities, have already been or are close to being completed.However, one thing you still have total control over is your college entrance essay. You can make mistakes and write blocks of texts you are not content with, then have the option to go online, search ...
10 Tips for Writing a Strong Essay. Use your own voice. Don't use big words just for the sake of using big words. They can distract from the essay when misused. Remember, this essay is about you, so use words you normally use. Use quotations and examples to show personal detail. Instead of just stating your point of view, you want to make your ...
ChatGPT's essays were based on some old questions from the Common App, a widely used application process across the US. At first, the chatbot said it wouldn't write the essays for me, telling me ...
Similarly, high school students may be tempted to use the chatbot to write college application essays. ChatGPT generates usable content that often lacks personality and authenticity. The use of ChatGPT poses ethical and moral dilemmas around plagiarism and cheating. It's just about 11 p.m. on a Tuesday night, and your 2,000-word essay on ...
Common App essay prompts. Check out the Common App essay prompts for 2022 to 2023: Essay 1: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, please share your story. This prompt invites students to share a personal story ...
But if you do it correctly by following the step-by-step guide on writing a college admissions essay discussed here, you will create an engaging essay with a word count of 250, 500, or 650. Here, we have critically discussed the steps to produce a well-structured persuasive essay.
Explain how to write a résumé or college application essay. March 4, 2023 by Essays. Be sure to save an electronic copy of your answer before submitting it for grading. Unless otherwise stated, answer in complete sentences, and be sure to use correct English, spelling and grammar. Sources must be cited in APA format.