How To Write Your College Essay

Learning how to write your college essay will be a large portion of your college application process. All of the other components of applying simply require you to manually fill in your test scores, mark your grades, and complete questionnaires, and they give no real insight into who the unique individual behind the name on the application really is.

While still exceedingly important, there is absolutely no character or personality behind pure numbers and test scores. For that reason, spending time learning how to write your college essay is the only way for you to allow the admissions board a glimpse of your identity and a peek into your life and the person you have grown to become. It is a chance to show the university reasons they would want you on their campus besides pure academics.

In truth, college essays can make or break you and your chance of getting into a school. No matter how amazing your GPA and test scores are, if the school senses that you are mentally unstable, a danger to yourself or others, or just a bad person from your essays, your chances of being admitted are significantly diminished.

Some colleges have specific college essay prompts they want you to write about, while some prompts are as vague as “write about yourself”. Some colleges will only require one essay, while others may require five. The first step to learning how to write your college essay is to choose your topics wisely and carefully. Your activities, grades, and achievements are already listed on your application, so pick college essay topics that will reveal more about your positive character traits.

The main goal of college essays is to appear likable and competent to the colleges you are applying to. Here are seven tips on how to write your college essay:

1). Write from Experience

There is that saying that you should “write what you know”. This is pretty true for college application essays. The reason colleges require a personal statement is to ask about the person behind the statistics on the application. They are asking for you to tell them about yourself and elaborate on your unique experiences and qualities. The college essay portion is not testing you on your creative writing ability. It is purely asking you about yourself.

Make sure the topics you choose reveal your best qualities and backs it up with hard evidence.

2). Be Interesting

College admissions people have to read through a large amount of college application essays, sometimes even thousands for larger universities. This is why you want to make your college essay stand out, or at least not let it blend in with the bland college essays.

As you learn how to write your college essay, remember to choose your topics wisely, and try to utilize the most interesting experiences you have gone through. Overcoming a certain fear is a good topic to write on, or having a sudden revelation after going through a near-death experience. Just take note that most people who have near death experiences will write about them. You want to avoid having generic college essays.

3). Speak the Truth

While you want to paint yourself in the best possible light in your college essays, flat out lying is not be the best way to go. Although there is no way for the admissions board to know and call you out for lying, lies can be more apparent than you think they are, so keep this in mind as you consider how to write your college essay.

College essays are supposed to be filled with vibrant detail. The best way to gather those details onto paper is to recall from actual memory. If you are making up a story about yourself, the “details” you add into the essay might seem a little overboard, because they are made up. Also be aware that made up college essay topics might come off as less sincere than real stories would.

4). Be Eloquent

You want to sound well-spoken and educated in your college essays. Keep your writing well-mannered and impressive. The whole point of college is to achieve a higher education, so adjust your written speech to be fit for an academically accomplished person. Express your point articulately and concisely. Do not be overly repetitive in your essay and avoid boring topics. You to have a powerful essay within the word limit that some colleges will give you.

5). Stay on Topic

While your personal statements primarily serve as reflections about yourself and your character, they are also a test of your written competence. With that said, it is crucial that you answer exactly what the prompt asks and that you stay on track throughout the entire essay.

You also need to regard these college essays as formally as you would an assigned term paper. Be sure to use correct spelling and grammar, and be coherent with your sentences and paragraphs. The tone you use in your personal statements does not need to be as formal as it should be in term papers, and you might even try to use a bit of light humor. But be aware of who your audience is and set your tone with caution.

6). Be Confident, Not Cocky

No one likes a bragger. College admissions people are looking to add nice, smart, and capable new students to their ranks, but I am not sure they would be eager to admit someone who comes off as conceited on paper.

All of your achievements and extracurricular activities will have already been listed in another section of the application, so there is no need to elaborate further in your essay. As you ponder how to write your college essay, consider writing about something personal and interesting, such as a near death or enlightening experience.

7). Proofread Multiple Times

You should never skip the editing for important essay assignments and formal papers, and the same goes double for college application essays. Your personal statements are arguably some of the most important essays you will ever write in your life. They should be written with a lot of time and care. You should not wait until the last few days before the application deadline to start your essays.

Make sure to set aside time for editing and proofreading your college essays, and do not be afraid to write multiple drafts! You want to make these essays as perfect as possible, and present yourself to the college admissions board in the best light possible.

It may also be a good idea to get other people to edit your essays for you as well. Fresh pairs of eyes might be useful for catching mistakes that you would ordinarily skip over after the fifth time reading over. Other people can also lend you good advice on how to change your essay for the better, and might even give you ideas about good anecdotes and qualities to include.

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Ashley Yang

Ashley Yang

Ashley Yang will be entering her junior year at the University of California, Davis in the fall, where she is pursuing a double major in Economics and Communication. Outside of class, she loves to see her friends and family, jam out to T-Swift, make smoothies, and curl up and unwind with a relaxing book. Other interests of hers include ballet and gymnastics, skiing, travel, volunteer work, chick-flick movies, animals, and Christmas.
Ashley Yang

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