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12 Strategies to Writing the Perfect College Essay

College admission committees sift through thousands of college essays each year. Here’s how to make yours stand out.

Pamela Reynolds

When it comes to deciding who they will admit into their programs, colleges consider many criteria, including high school grades, extracurricular activities, and ACT and SAT scores. But in recent years, more colleges are no longer considering test scores.

Instead, many (including Harvard through 2026) are opting for “test-blind” admission policies that give more weight to other elements in a college application. This policy change is seen as fairer to students who don’t have the means or access to testing, or who suffer from test anxiety.

So, what does this mean for you?

Simply that your college essay, traditionally a requirement of any college application, is more important than ever.

A college essay is your unique opportunity to introduce yourself to admissions committees who must comb through thousands of applications each year. It is your chance to stand out as someone worthy of a seat in that classroom.

A well-written and thoughtful essay—reflecting who you are and what you believe—can go a long way to separating your application from the slew of forgettable ones that admissions officers read. Indeed, officers may rely on them even more now that many colleges are not considering test scores.

Below we’ll discuss a few strategies you can use to help your essay stand out from the pack. We’ll touch on how to start your essay, what you should write for your college essay, and elements that make for a great college essay.

Be Authentic

More than any other consideration, you should choose a topic or point of view that is consistent with who you truly are.

Readers can sense when writers are inauthentic.

Inauthenticity could mean the use of overly flowery language that no one would ever use in conversation, or it could mean choosing an inconsequential topic that reveals very little about who you are.

Use your own voice, sense of humor, and a natural way of speaking.

Whatever subject you choose, make sure it’s something that’s genuinely important to you and not a subject you’ve chosen just to impress. You can write about a specific experience, hobby, or personality quirk that illustrates your strengths, but also feel free to write about your weaknesses.

Honesty about traits, situations, or a childhood background that you are working to improve may resonate with the reader more strongly than a glib victory speech.

Grab the Reader From the Start

You’ll be competing with so many other applicants for an admission officer’s attention.

Therefore, start your essay with an opening sentence or paragraph that immediately seizes the imagination. This might be a bold statement, a thoughtful quote, a question you pose, or a descriptive scene.

Starting your essay in a powerful way with a clear thesis statement can often help you along in the writing process. If your task is to tell a good story, a bold beginning can be a natural prelude to getting there, serving as a roadmap, engaging the reader from the start, and presenting the purpose of your writing.

Focus on Deeper Themes

Some essay writers think they will impress committees by loading an essay with facts, figures, and descriptions of activities, like wins in sports or descriptions of volunteer work. But that’s not the point.

College admissions officers are interested in learning more about who you are as a person and what makes you tick.

They want to know what has brought you to this stage in life. They want to read about realizations you may have come to through adversity as well as your successes, not just about how many games you won while on the soccer team or how many people you served at a soup kitchen.

Let the reader know how winning the soccer game helped you develop as a person, friend, family member, or leader. Make a connection with your soup kitchen volunteerism and how it may have inspired your educational journey and future aspirations. What did you discover about yourself?

Show Don’t Tell

As you expand on whatever theme you’ve decided to explore in your essay, remember to show, don’t tell.

The most engaging writing “shows” by setting scenes and providing anecdotes, rather than just providing a list of accomplishments and activities.

Reciting a list of activities is also boring. An admissions officer will want to know about the arc of your emotional journey too.

Try Doing Something Different

If you want your essay to stand out, think about approaching your subject from an entirely new perspective. While many students might choose to write about their wins, for instance, what if you wrote an essay about what you learned from all your losses?

If you are an especially talented writer, you might play with the element of surprise by crafting an essay that leaves the response to a question to the very last sentence.

You may want to stay away from well-worn themes entirely, like a sports-related obstacle or success, volunteer stories, immigration stories, moving, a summary of personal achievements or overcoming obstacles.

However, such themes are popular for a reason. They represent the totality of most people’s lives coming out of high school. Therefore, it may be less important to stay away from these topics than to take a fresh approach.

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Write With the Reader in Mind

Writing for the reader means building a clear and logical argument in which one thought flows naturally from another.

Use transitions between paragraphs.

Think about any information you may have left out that the reader may need to know. Are there ideas you have included that do not help illustrate your theme?

Be sure you can answer questions such as: Does what you have written make sense? Is the essay organized? Does the opening grab the reader? Is there a strong ending? Have you given enough background information? Is it wordy?

Write Several Drafts

Set your essay aside for a few days and come back to it after you’ve had some time to forget what you’ve written. Often, you’ll discover you have a whole new perspective that enhances your ability to make revisions.

Start writing months before your essay is due to give yourself enough time to write multiple drafts. A good time to start could be as early as the summer before your senior year when homework and extracurricular activities take up less time.

Read It Aloud

Writer’s tip : Reading your essay aloud can instantly uncover passages that sound clumsy, long-winded, or false.

Don’t Repeat

If you’ve mentioned an activity, story, or anecdote in some other part of your application, don’t repeat it again in your essay.

Your essay should tell college admissions officers something new. Whatever you write in your essay should be in philosophical alignment with the rest of your application.

Also, be sure you’ve answered whatever question or prompt may have been posed to you at the outset.

Ask Others to Read Your Essay

Be sure the people you ask to read your essay represent different demographic groups—a teacher, a parent, even a younger sister or brother.

Ask each reader what they took from the essay and listen closely to what they have to say. If anyone expresses confusion, revise until the confusion is cleared up.

Pay Attention to Form

Although there are often no strict word limits for college essays, most essays are shorter rather than longer. Common App, which students can use to submit to multiple colleges, suggests that essays stay at 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.

In reviewing other technical aspects of your essay, be sure that the font is readable, that the margins are properly spaced, that any dialogue is set off properly, and that there is enough spacing at the top. Your essay should look clean and inviting to readers.

End Your Essay With a “Kicker”

In journalism, a kicker is the last punchy line, paragraph, or section that brings everything together.

It provides a lasting impression that leaves the reader satisfied and impressed by the points you have artfully woven throughout your piece.

So, here’s our kicker: Be concise and coherent, engage in honest self-reflection, and include vivid details and anecdotes that deftly illustrate your point.

While writing a fantastic essay may not guarantee you get selected, it can tip the balance in your favor if admissions officers are considering a candidate with a similar GPA and background.

Write, revise, revise again, and good luck!

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About the Author

Pamela Reynolds is a Boston-area feature writer and editor whose work appears in numerous publications. She is the author of “Revamp: A Memoir of Travel and Obsessive Renovation.”

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College admissions

Course: college admissions   >   unit 4.

  • 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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what to consider when writing a college essay

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How to Write a Personal Essay for Your College Application

what to consider when writing a college essay

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.

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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.

  • 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 .

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College Essay Format: Writing & Editing Tips

A good college essay format, with the right topic, goes beyond your academic accomplishments and extracurriculars.

[Featured image] An aspiring college student works on her college essay with a notebook and laptop.

You want to stand out in a crowd, particularly when you’re applying to the college of your choice. As part of the application process, many schools ask for an essay to accompany the standard academic and personal information they require. So it’s important to make it a good one.

Your college application essay is essentially a story you tell that offers a glimpse into who you are, beyond your admissions application, grades, activities, and test scores.

A college essay, often called a personal statement, is your opportunity to reveal your personality. It's a way for the admissions department to get to know you as a person and get an idea of the kind of student you'll be.

So how should a college essay be formatted? This article covers formatting best practices, how to choose a compelling topic for your essay, and writing and editing tips to help you craft an essay that captures the attention of the reader, gets your point across, and is free of errors.

Decide on a topic.

You'll often have a choice of topics for your essay provided by the college or university. Choose a topic that allows you to best highlight what you want the college to know about you. 

A good start is to list three positive adjectives that describe you. Then, see if you can write two or three real-life examples of each trait that demonstrates that you possess that characteristic.

Also, think about the stories other people tell about you or the words they use to describe you. Ask people who know you well:

What do you think sets me apart from others? 

What are my strengths? 

How would you describe my personality? 

What are my quirks?

These ideas can become the inspiration to develop material for a good college essay. 

From the list of essay prompts you receive from the college, choose the topic that will give you the best chance to showcase who you are within the limited word count. You don't have to write about a major life-changing event. It can be a mundane or ordinary situation—like a dinner table conversation, day at school, or conversation with a friend. Often, slightly unusual topics are better than typical ones because they hold a reader's attention.

Regardless of the topic you choose, remember that the true topic of your college essay is you, and the purpose of it is to show how you are unique. It highlights an important piece of who you are and where you want to head in life.

Common college essay prompts

Over 900 colleges use Common App essay prompts, which means you may be able to write one essay for several college applications. Some past Common App college essay prompts—which are announced publicly each year—include the following topics:

Share a story about your background, interest, identity, or talent that makes you complete as a person.

Describe a time when you faced a setback, failure, or challenge and what you learned from it.

Tell about a topic, concept, or idea that is so captivating to you that you lose all track of time.

Write about something that someone has done for you that you are grateful for, and how gratitude has motivated or affected you.

Whether or not the school you're applying to uses Common App questions, it will publish required essay topics in its admissions materials. Or, you may be asked to write on a topic of your choice. Here are some additional common college essay prompts you might encounter:

Describe a person you admire and how that person has influenced your behavior and thinking.

Why do you want to attend this school?

Describe your creative side.

Name an extracurricular activity that is meaningful to you and how it has impacted your life.

Tell about what you have done to make your community or school a better place.

Consider length.

Consult your college application instructions to see how long your essay should be. Be sure to stay within the required word count or essay length, not going over the maximum or under the minimum.

Chances are, you'll be given a word limit. If none is specified, experts on the admissions process recommend you keep your word count between 500 and 650 words. Use the required essay length to help you determine what you will share. You won't be able to tell your life story within these few paragraphs, so choose the most impactful examples as your content. 

Create an outline.

An outline helps you plan your essay so you know how it will begin and end and identify key points you want to include in the middle. Use your outline to stay on topic and get the most use out of your word count.

Decide on a logical order.

The most effective outlines are usually the most simple ones. For instance, a good story has a beginning, middle, and end. Likewise, your essay will have an introduction, body, and conclusion.

Unless the college requests a specific admission essay format, use the format you've been using to write essays in high school that you're likely to be the most comfortable with. If you're stuck on how to open your essay, write the middle of your story first. Then, go back and write a compelling introduction and a concise conclusion.

Sample format for a college essay

While the format of your college essay is largely up to you, it can be helpful to have an example as a springboard to give you ideas. Consider the following college essay format as you organize your writing.

1. Think about using a title.

A title for your college essay is not necessary. However, including one can add interest. But if you're low on word count, you can skip it. You can also wait until after you write your essay to decide. It's often easier to come up with a fitting, compelling title after you've told your story.

2. Open with a hook.

Your opening sentence is one of the most important parts of your essay. It's what you'll use to capture the attention of the reader and give them a reason to read on. The start of your essay is your opportunity to make an impactful first impression, so make your opening a good one. Here are two examples of how you can open with an interesting hook:

Start in the middle of your story: Call out the most interesting point of your story, and then backtrack from there. For example, "And there I found myself, surrounded by baby sea turtles on the hazy shores of Virginia Beach."

Make a specific generalization: This is a sentence that makes a general statement on what your essay will be about, but gives a specific description. An example: "Each year on our family vacation out of the city, I contemplate the meaning of life as we cross the Golden Gate Bridge."

3. Continue with your introduction.

While your hook will spark the reader's curiosity, the rest of your introduction should give them an idea of where you're going with your essay. Set your story up in four to five sentences.

4. Tell your story in the body of your essay.

If your introduction and conclusion are roughly 100 words each, your body will end up being about 450 words. Think of that as three to five paragraphs, with each paragraph having its own main idea or point. 

Write in a narrative style—more as though you're having a conversation as opposed to writing an instruction manual. While you should pay strict attention to using proper grammar and sentence structure, you have the freedom to make your essay a reflection of your personality.

If you are a humorous person, use humor. If you're an eternal optimist or love getting into the minute details of life, let that shine through. Tell your story in a way that’s logical, clear, and makes sense.

5. Wrap up with a conclusion. 

Finish your story with a conclusion paragraph, and make sure you've made your main point. What is the main thing you want the college to know about you through this story? Is it what you've learned, a value that's important to you, or what you want to contribute to society? Finally, conclude your essay with the personal statement you want to make about yourself.

Writing tips on how to format a college essay

As you're writing your college essay, keep these tips in mind:  

Be authentic. One of the most essential parts of how to format a college application essay is to be authentic. The college wants to know who you are, and they will be reading dozens of essays a day. The best way to make yours stand out is to just be yourself instead of focusing on what you think they want to hear. 

Show you can write . While the most important part of your personal statement is showcasing who you are, you'll also be judged on your writing ability. That's because knowing the fundamental principles of writing is important to college success. Show that you understand the structure of an essay and proper use of the English language.

Give the answer right away. If you're using a specific question as your writing prompt, answer the question directly in the opening paragraph. Then, use the rest of the essay to elaborate on your answer.

Stay on topic. Make good use of your word count limit by being concise and coherent. Stay on topic and refrain from adding any information that doesn't add to the main idea of your essay. 

Write in your voice. Imagine you’re speaking to an actual person as you write. Be honest and accurate, using words you normally use. Your essay is a personal statement, so it should sound natural to the reader—and to you too.

Use real examples. Add real-life events and vivid details from your life. This adds color and validity to your personal statement. Personal examples will show you embody the characteristics or values you claim to, rather than merely saying you do.

Keep the formatting simple. Opt-out of fancy fonts that can be hard to read. Stick to fonts like Times New Roman or Arial. Avoid using bolding (except for headings), italics, all caps, or exclamation points. Let your words speak for themselves instead.

Save your essay. Instead of writing your essay directly in the online application, draft and save your essay in a document like Google Docs or Word—or start out on paper and pen if that's what you're most comfortable with. That way you can make edits and use helpful online spelling and grammar checkers. And you won't risk losing your essay if the application times out or you navigate away from it by mistake. When you copy and paste your essay into the application, make sure your formatting, such as line spacing and bolding for headings, remains intact.

Follow directions. Read and understand the specific instructions set by the college. Review them again before you submit your essay to make sure you've met all of the requirements.

Editing tips on how to format a college essay

Finally, edit your essay until you’re satisfied it conveys the message you want it to and it’s free of errors. Let your first draft be as messy or pristine as it comes out. Then, go back later—several times if needed—to clean it up. Ask yourself these questions as you edit your essay:

Is my essay free of grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation errors?

Is it the proper word length assigned by the college?

Have I answered the question in the prompt?

Does the introduction make me want to read more?

Are there any vague statements I can replace with more specific details?

Do any parts drone on or feel boring?

Does it feel too formal?

Are any parts or words repetitive?

Have I misused any words (such as there, their, and they're)?

Are my sentences varied in length?

Have I shared with the college what I most want them to know about me? 

It can also be helpful to ask someone you trust to read your essay and give you constructive feedback. This might be a trusted teacher, parent, school counselor, or college student. It's best to choose someone who is familiar with the purpose of a college essay.

Ask them to give feedback about your essay using the same questions as above. But they should never try to rewrite your essay. And never let others edit out your voice. Ask them to focus on grammar and mechanics and to give suggestions on items to add in or leave out. 

Above all, ask your guest editor what point they think you were trying to make with your essay. If they get it right, you know you've crafted a college essay that reflects you and your intended message. 

Enhance your writing skills

Bring out your best in your college essay with a course in Writing a Personal Essay from Wesleyan University. Learn how to find your voice, structure your essay, choose relevant details, and write in a way that pulls in your readers.

Related articles

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College Essay Topics and Writing Tips

How Long Should a College Essay Be?

How to Write a Personal Statement

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College Admissions , College Essays

what to consider when writing a college essay

Writing your personal statement for your college application is an undeniably overwhelming project. Your essay is your big shot to show colleges who you are—it's totally reasonable to get stressed out. But don't let that stress paralyze you.

This guide will walk you through each step of the essay writing process to help you understand exactly what you need to do to write the best possible personal statement . I'm also going to follow an imaginary student named Eva as she plans and writes her college essay, from her initial organization and brainstorming to her final edits. By the end of this article, you'll have all the tools you need to create a fantastic, effective college essay.

So how do you write a good college essay? The process starts with finding the best possible topic , which means understanding what the prompt is asking for and taking the time to brainstorm a variety of options. Next, you'll determine how to create an interesting essay that shows off your unique perspective and write multiple drafts in order to hone your structure and language. Once your writing is as effective and engaging as possible, you'll do a final sweep to make sure everything is correct .

This guide covers the following steps:

#1: Organizing #2: Brainstorming #3: Picking a topic #4: Making a plan #5: Writing a draft #6: Editing your draft #7: Finalizing your draft #8: Repeating the process

feature Image: John O'Nolan /Flickr

Step 1: Get Organized

The first step in how to write a college essay is figuring out what you actually need to do. Although many schools are now on the Common App, some very popular colleges, including Rutgers and University of California, still have their own applications and writing requirements. Even for Common App schools, you may need to write a supplemental essay or provide short answers to questions.

Before you get started, you should know exactly what essays you need to write. Having this information allows you to plan the best approach to each essay and helps you cut down on work by determining whether you can use an essay for more than one prompt.

Start Early

Writing good college essays involves a lot of work: you need dozens of hours to get just one personal statement properly polished , and that's before you even start to consider any supplemental essays.

In order to make sure you have plenty of time to brainstorm, write, and edit your essay (or essays), I recommend starting at least two months before your first deadline . The last thing you want is to end up with a low-quality essay you aren't proud of because you ran out of time and had to submit something unfinished.

Determine What You Need to Do

As I touched on above, each college has its own essay requirements, so you'll need to go through and determine what exactly you need to submit for each school . This process is simple if you're only using the Common App, since you can easily view the requirements for each school under the "My Colleges" tab. Watch out, though, because some schools have a dedicated "Writing Supplement" section, while others (even those that want a full essay) will put their prompts in the "Questions" section.

It gets trickier if you're applying to any schools that aren't on the Common App. You'll need to look up the essay requirements for each college—what's required should be clear on the application itself, or you can look under the "how to apply" section of the school's website.

Once you've determined the requirements for each school, I recommend making yourself a chart with the school name, word limit, and application deadline on one side and the prompt or prompts you need to respond to on the other . That way you'll be able to see exactly what you need to do and when you need to do it by.

what to consider when writing a college essay

Decide Where to Start

If you have one essay that's due earlier than the others, start there. Otherwise, start with the essay for your top choice school.

I would also recommend starting with a longer personal statement before moving on to shorter supplementary essays , since the 500-700 word essays tend to take quite a bit longer than 100-250 word short responses. The brainstorming you do for the long essay may help you come up with ideas you like for the shorter ones as well.

Also consider whether some of the prompts are similar enough that you could submit the same essay to multiple schools . Doing so can save you some time and let you focus on a few really great essays rather than a lot of mediocre ones.

However, don't reuse essays for dissimilar or very school-specific prompts, especially "why us" essays . If a college asks you to write about why you're excited to go there, admissions officers want to see evidence that you're genuinely interested. Reusing an essay about another school and swapping out the names is the fastest way to prove you aren't.

Example: Eva's College List

Eva is applying early to Emory University and regular decision to University of Washington, UCLA, and Reed College. Emory, the University of Washington, and Reed both use the Common App, while University of Washington, Emory, and Reed all use the Coalition App.

Even though she's only applying to four schools, Eva has a lot to do: two essays for UW, four for the UC application, one for the Common App (or the Coalition App), two essays for Emory, plus the supplements. Many students will have fewer requirements to complete, but those who are applying to very selective schools or a number of schools on different applications will have as many or even more responses to write.

Since Eva's first deadline is early decision for Emory, she'll start by writing the Common App essay, and then work on the Emory supplements. (For the purposes of this post, we'll focus on the Common App essay.)

what to consider when writing a college essay

Step 2: Brainstorm

Next up in how to write a college essay: brainstorming essay ideas. There are tons of ways to come up with ideas for your essay topic: I've outlined three below. I recommend trying all of them and compiling a list of possible topics, then narrowing it down to the very best one or, if you're writing multiple essays, the best few.

Keep in mind as you brainstorm that there's no best college essay topic, just the best topic for you . Don't feel obligated to write about something because you think you should—those types of essays tend to be boring and uninspired. Similarly, don't simply write about the first idea that crosses your mind because you don't want to bother trying to think of something more interesting. Take the time to come up with a topic you're really excited about and that you can write about in detail.

what to consider when writing a college essay

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Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We'll learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay that you'll proudly submit to your top choice colleges.

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Craft Your Perfect College Essay

Analyze the Prompts

One way to find possible topics is to think deeply about the college's essay prompt. What are they asking you for? Break them down and analyze every angle.

Does the question include more than one part ? Are there multiple tasks you need to complete?

What do you think the admissions officers are hoping to learn about you ?

In cases where you have more than one choice of prompt, does one especially appeal to you ? Why?

Let's dissect one of the University of Washington prompts as an example:

"Our families and communities often define us and our individual worlds. Community might refer to your cultural group, extended family, religious group, neighborhood or school, sports team or club, co-workers, etc. Describe the world you come from and how you, as a product of it, might add to the diversity of the UW. "

This question is basically asking how your personal history, such as your childhood, family, groups you identify with etc. helped you become the person you are now. It offers a number of possible angles.

You can talk about the effects of either your family life (like your relationship with your parents or what your household was like growing up) or your cultural history (like your Jewish faith or your Venezuelan heritage). You can also choose between focusing on positive or negative effects of your family or culture. No matter what however, the readers definitely want to hear about your educational goals (i.e. what you hope to get out of college) and how they're related to your personal experience.

As you try to think of answers for a prompt, imagine about what you would say if you were asked the question by a friend or during a get-to-know-you icebreaker. After all, admissions officers are basically just people who you want to get to know you.

The essay questions can make a great jumping off point, but don't feel married to them. Most prompts are general enough that you can come up with an idea and then fit it to the question.

Consider Important Experiences, Events, and Ideas in Your Life

What experience, talent, interest or other quirk do you have that you might want to share with colleges? In other words, what makes you you? Possible topics include hobbies, extracurriculars, intellectual interests, jobs, significant one-time events, pieces of family history, or anything else that has shaped your perspective on life.

Unexpected or slightly unusual topics are often the best : your passionate love of Korean dramas or your yearly family road trip to an important historical site. You want your essay to add something to your application, so if you're an All-American soccer player and want to write about the role soccer has played in your life, you'll have a higher bar to clear.

Of course if you have a more serious part of your personal history—the death of a parent, serious illness, or challenging upbringing—you can write about that. But make sure you feel comfortable sharing details of the experience with the admissions committee and that you can separate yourself from it enough to take constructive criticism on your essay.

what to consider when writing a college essay

Think About How You See Yourself

The last brainstorming method is to consider whether there are particular personality traits you want to highlight . This approach can feel rather silly, but it can also be very effective.

If you were trying to sell yourself to an employer, or maybe even a potential date, how would you do it? Try to think about specific qualities that make you stand out. What are some situations in which you exhibited this trait?

Example: Eva's Ideas

Looking at the Common App prompts, Eva wasn't immediately drawn to any of them, but after a bit of consideration she thought it might be nice to write about her love of literature for the first one, which asks about something "so meaningful your application would be incomplete without it." Alternatively, she liked the specificity of the failure prompt and thought she might write about a bad job interview she had had.

In terms of important events, Eva's parents got divorced when she was three and she's been going back and forth between their houses for as long as she can remember, so that's a big part of her personal story. She's also played piano for all four years of high school, although she's not particularly good.

As for personal traits, Eva is really proud of her curiosity—if she doesn't know something, she immediately looks it up, and often ends up discovering new topics she's interested in. It's a trait that's definitely come in handy as a reporter for her school paper.

Step 3: Narrow Down Your List

Now you have a list of potential topics, but probably no idea where to start. The next step is to go through your ideas and determine which one will make for the strongest essay . You'll then begin thinking about how best to approach it.

What to Look for in a College Essay Topic

There's no single answer to the question of what makes a great college essay topic, but there are some key factors you should keep in mind. The best essays are focused, detailed, revealing and insightful, and finding the right topic is vital to writing a killer essay with all of those qualities.

As you go through your ideas, be discriminating—really think about how each topic could work as an essay. But don't be too hard on yourself ; even if an idea may not work exactly the way you first thought, there may be another way to approach it. Pay attention to what you're really excited about and look for ways to make those ideas work.

what to consider when writing a college essay

Consideration 1: Does It Matter to You?

If you don't care about your topic, it will be hard to convince your readers to care about it either. You can't write a revealing essay about yourself unless you write about a topic that is truly important to you.

But don't confuse important to you with important to the world: a college essay is not a persuasive argument. The point is to give the reader a sense of who you are , not to make a political or intellectual point. The essay needs to be personal.

Similarly, a lot of students feel like they have to write about a major life event or their most impressive achievement. But the purpose of a personal statement isn't to serve as a resume or a brag sheet—there are plenty of other places in the application for you to list that information. Many of the best essays are about something small because your approach to a common experience generally reveals a lot about your perspective on the world.

Mostly, your topic needs to have had a genuine effect on your outlook , whether it taught you something about yourself or significantly shifted your view on something else.

Consideration 2: Does It Tell the Reader Something Different About You?

Your essay should add something to your application that isn't obvious elsewhere. Again, there are sections for all of your extracurriculars and awards; the point of the essay is to reveal something more personal that isn't clear just from numbers and lists.

You also want to make sure that if you're sending more than one essay to a school—like a Common App personal statement and a school-specific supplement—the two essays take on different topics.

Consideration 3: Is It Specific?

Your essay should ultimately have a very narrow focus. 650 words may seem like a lot, but you can fill it up very quickly. This means you either need to have a very specific topic from the beginning or find a specific aspect of a broader topic to focus on.

If you try to take on a very broad topic, you'll end up with a bunch of general statements and boring lists of your accomplishments. Instead, you want to find a short anecdote or single idea to explore in depth .

Consideration 4: Can You Discuss It in Detail?

A vague essay is a boring essay— specific details are what imbue your essay with your personality . For example, if I tell my friend that I had a great dessert yesterday, she probably won't be that interested. But if I explain that I ate an amazing piece of peach raspberry pie with flaky, buttery crust and filling that was both sweet and tart, she will probably demand to know where I obtained it (at least she will if she appreciates the joys of pie). She'll also learn more about me: I love pie and I analyze deserts with great seriousness.

Given the importance of details, writing about something that happened a long time ago or that you don't remember well isn't usually a wise choice . If you can't describe something in depth, it will be challenging to write a compelling essay about it.

You also shouldn't pick a topic you aren't actually comfortable talking about . Some students are excited to write essays about very personal topics, like their mother's bipolar disorder or their family's financial struggles, but others dislike sharing details about these kinds of experiences. If you're a member of the latter group, that's totally okay, just don't write about one of these sensitive topics.

Still, don't worry that every single detail has to be perfectly correct. Definitely don't make anything up, but if you remember a wall as green and it was really blue, your readers won't notice or care.

what to consider when writing a college essay

Consideration 5: Can It Be Related to the Prompt?

As long as you're talking about yourself, there are very few ideas that you can't tie back to one of the Common App or Coalition App prompts. But if you're applying to a school with its own more specific prompt, or working on supplemental essays, making sure to address the question will be a greater concern.

Deciding on a Topic

Once you've gone through the questions above, you should have good sense of what you want to write about. Hopefully, it's also gotten you started thinking about how you can best approach that topic, but we'll cover how to plan your essay more fully in the next step.

If after going through the narrowing process, you've eliminated all your topics, first look back over them: are you being too hard on yourself? Are there any that you really like, but just aren't totally sure what angle to take on? If so, try looking at the next section and seeing if you can't find a different way to approach it.

If you just don't have an idea you're happy with, that's okay! Give yourself a week to think about it. Sometimes you'll end up having a genius idea in the car on the way to school or while studying for your U.S. history test. Otherwise, try the brainstorming process again when you've had a break.

If, on the other hand, you have more than one idea you really like, consider whether any of them can be used for other essays you need to write.

Example: Picking Eva's Topic

  • Love of books
  • Failed job interview
  • Parents' divorce

Eva immediately rules out writing about playing piano, because it sounds super boring to her, and it's not something she is particularly passionate about. She also decides not to write about splitting time between her parents because she just isn't comfortable sharing her feelings about it with an admissions committee.

She feels more positive about the other three, so she decides to think about them for a couple of days. She ends up ruling out the job interview because she just can't come up with that many details she could include.

She's excited about both of her last two ideas, but sees issues with both of them: the books idea is very broad and the reporting idea doesn't seem to apply to any of the prompts. Then she realizes that she can address the solving a problem prompt by talking about a time she was trying to research a story about the closing of a local movie theater, so she decides to go with that topic.

Step 4: Figure Out Your Approach

You've decided on a topic, but now you need to turn that topic into an essay. To do so, you need to determine what specifically you're focusing on and how you'll structure your essay.

If you're struggling or uncertain, try taking a look at some examples of successful college essays . It can be helpful to dissect how other personal statements are structured to get ideas for your own , but don't fall into the trap of trying to copy someone else's approach. Your essay is your story—never forget that.

Let's go through the key steps that will help you turn a great topic into a great essay.

Choose a Focal Point

As I touched on above, the narrower your focus, the easier it will be to write a unique, engaging personal statement. The simplest way to restrict the scope of your essay is to recount an anecdote , i.e. a short personal story that illustrates your larger point.

For example, say a student was planning to write about her Outward Bound trip in Yosemite. If she tries to tell the entire story of her trip, her essay will either be far too long or very vague. Instead, she decides to focus in on a specific incident that exemplifies what mattered to her about the experience: her failed attempt to climb Half Dome. She described the moment she decided to turn back without reaching the top in detail, while touching on other parts of the climb and trip where appropriate. This approach lets her create a dramatic arc in just 600 words, while fully answering the question posed in the prompt (Common App prompt 2).

Of course, concentrating on an anecdote isn't the only way to narrow your focus. Depending on your topic, it might make more sense to build your essay around an especially meaningful object, relationship, or idea.

Another approach our example student from above could take to the same general topic would be to write about the generosity of fellow hikers (in response to Common App prompt 4). Rather than discussing a single incident, she could tell the story of her trip through times she was supported by other hikers: them giving tips on the trails, sharing snacks, encouraging her when she was tired, etc. A structure like this one can be trickier than the more straightforward anecdote approach , but it can also make for an engaging and different essay.

When deciding what part of your topic to focus on, try to find whatever it is about the topic that is most meaningful and unique to you . Once you've figured that part out, it will guide how you structure the essay.

what to consider when writing a college essay

Decide What You Want to Show About Yourself

Remember that the point of the college essay isn't just to tell a story, it's to show something about yourself. It's vital that you have a specific point you want to make about what kind of person you are , what kind of college student you'd make, or what the experience you're describing taught you.

Since the papers you write for school are mostly analytical, you probably aren't used to writing about your own feelings. As such, it can be easy to neglect the reflection part of the personal statement in favor of just telling a story. Yet explaining what the event or idea you discuss meant to you is the most important essay —knowing how you want to tie your experiences back to your personal growth from the beginning will help you make sure to include it.

Develop a Structure

It's not enough to just know what you want to write about—you also need to have a sense of how you're going to write about it. You could have the most exciting topic of all time, but without a clear structure your essay will end up as incomprehensible gibberish that doesn't tell the reader anything meaningful about your personality.

There are a lot of different possible essay structures, but a simple and effective one is the compressed narrative, which builds on a specific anecdote (like the Half Dome example above):

Start in the middle of the action. Don't spend a lot of time at the beginning of your essay outlining background info—it doesn't tend to draw the reader in and you usually need less of it than you think you do. Instead start right where your story starts to get interesting. (I'll go into how to craft an intriguing opener in more depth below.)

Briefly explain what the situation is. Now that you've got the reader's attention, go back and explain anything they need to know about how you got into this situation. Don't feel compelled to fit everything in—only include the background details that are necessary to either understand what happened or illuminate your feelings about the situation in some way.

Finish the story. Once you've clarified exactly what's going on, explain how you resolved the conflict or concluded the experience.

Explain what you learned. The last step is to tie everything together and bring home the main point of your story: how this experience affected you.

The key to this type of structure is to create narrative tension—you want your reader to be wondering what happens next.

A second approach is the thematic structure, which is based on returning to a key idea or object again and again (like the boots example above):

Establish the focus. If you're going to structure your essay around a single theme or object, you need to begin the essay by introducing that key thing. You can do so with a relevant anecdote or a detailed description.

Touch on 3-5 times the focus was important. The body of your essay will consist of stringing together a few important moments related to the topic. Make sure to use sensory details to bring the reader into those points in time and keep her engaged in the essay. Also remember to elucidate why these moments were important to you.

Revisit the main idea. At the end, you want to tie everything together by revisiting the main idea or object and showing how your relationship to it has shaped or affected you. Ideally, you'll also hint at how this thing will be important to you going forward.

To make this structure work you need a very specific focus. Your love of travel, for example, is much too broad—you would need to hone in on a specific aspect of that interest, like how traveling has taught you to adapt to event the most unusual situations. Whatever you do, don't use this structure to create a glorified resume or brag sheet .

However you structure your essay, you want to make sure that it clearly lays out both the events or ideas you're describing and establishes the stakes (i.e. what it all means for you). Many students become so focused on telling a story or recounting details that they forget to explain what it all meant to them.

what to consider when writing a college essay

Example: Eva's Essay Plan

For her essay, Eva decides to use the compressed narrative structure to tell the story of how she tried and failed to report on the closing of a historic movie theater:

  • Open with the part of her story where she finally gave up after calling the theater and city hall a dozen times.
  • Explain that although she started researching the story out of journalistic curiosity, it was important to her because she'd grown up going to movies at that theater.
  • Recount how defeated she felt when she couldn't get ahold of anyone, and then even more so when she saw a story about the theater's closing in the local paper.
  • Describer her decision to write an op-ed instead and interview other students about what the theater meant to them.
  • Finish by explaining that although she wasn't able to get the story (or stop the destruction of the theater), she learned that sometimes the emotional angle can be just as interesting as the investigative one.

Step 5: Write a First Draft

The key to writing your first draft is not to worry about whether it's any good—just get something on paper and go from there. You will have to rewrite, so trying to get everything perfect is both frustrating and futile.

Everyone has their own writing process. Maybe you feel more comfortable sitting down and writing the whole draft from beginning to end in one go. Maybe you jump around, writing a little bit here and a little there. It's okay to have sections you know won't work or to skip over things you think you'll need to include later.

Whatever your approach, there are a few tips everyone can benefit from.

Don't Aim for Perfection

I mentioned this idea above, but I can't emphasize it enough: no one writes a perfect first draft . Extensive editing and rewriting is vital to crafting an effective personal statement. Don't get too attached to any part of your draft, because you may need to change anything (or everything) about your essay later .

Also keep in mind that, at this point in the process, the goal is just to get your ideas down. Wonky phrasings and misplaced commas can easily be fixed when you edit, so don't worry about them as you write. Instead, focus on including lots of specific details and emphasizing how your topic has affected you, since these aspects are vital to a compelling essay.

what to consider when writing a college essay

Write an Engaging Introduction

One part of the essay you do want to pay special attention to is the introduction. Your intro is your essay's first impression: you only get one. It's much harder to regain your reader's attention once you've lost it, so you want to draw the reader in with an immediately engaging hook that sets up a compelling story .

There are two possible approaches I would recommend.

The "In Media Res" Opening

You'll probably recognize this term if you studied The Odyssey: it basically means that the story starts in the middle of the action, rather than at the beginning. A good intro of this type makes the reader wonder both how you got to the point you're starting at and where you'll go from there . These openers provide a solid, intriguing beginning for narrative essays (though they can certainly for thematic structures as well).

But how do you craft one? Try to determine the most interesting point in your story and start there. If you're not sure where that is, try writing out the entire story and then crossing out each sentence in order until you get to one that immediately grabs your attention.

Here's an example from a real student's college essay:

"I strode in front of 400 frenzied eighth graders with my arm slung over my Fender Stratocaster guitar—it actually belonged to my mother—and launched into the first few chords of Nirvana's 'Lithium.'"

Anonymous , University of Virginia

This intro throws the reader right into the middle of the action. The author jumps right into the action: the performance. You can imagine how much less exciting it would be if the essay opened with an explanation of what the event was and why the author was performing.

The Specific Generalization

Sounds like an oxymoron, right? This type of intro sets up what the essay is going to talk about in a slightly unexpected way . These are a bit trickier than the "in media res" variety, but they can work really well for the right essay—generally one with a thematic structure.

The key to this type of intro is detail . Contrary to what you may have learned in elementary school, sweeping statements don't make very strong hooks. If you want to start your essay with a more overall description of what you'll be discussing, you still need to make it specific and unique enough to stand out.

Once again, let's look at some examples from real students' essays:

Neha, Johns Hopkins University

Brontë, Johns Hopkins University

Both of these intros set up the general topic of the essay (the first writer's bookshelf and and the second's love of Jane Eyre ) in an intriguing way. The first intro works because it mixes specific descriptions ("pushed against the left wall in my room") with more general commentary ("a curious piece of furniture"). The second draws the reader in by adopting a conversational and irreverent tone with asides like "if you ask me" and "This may or may not be a coincidence."

what to consider when writing a college essay

Don't Worry Too Much About the Length

When you start writing, don't worry about your essay's length. Instead, focus on trying to include all of the details you can think of about your topic , which will make it easier to decide what you really need to include when you edit.

However, if your first draft is more than twice the word limit and you don't have a clear idea of what needs to be cut out, you may need to reconsider your focus—your topic is likely too broad. You may also need to reconsider your topic or approach if you find yourself struggling to fill space, since this usually indicates a topic that lacks a specific focus.

Eva's First Paragraph

I dialed the phone number for the fourth time that week. "Hello? This is Eva Smith, and I'm a reporter with Tiny Town High's newspaper The Falcon. I was hoping to ask you some questions about—" I heard the distinctive click of the person on the other end of the line hanging up, followed by dial tone. I was about ready to give up: I'd been trying to get the skinny on whether the Atlas Theater was actually closing to make way for a big AMC multiplex or if it was just a rumor for weeks, but no one would return my calls.

Step 6: Edit Aggressively

No one writes a perfect first draft. No matter how much you might want to be done after writing a first draft—you must take the time to edit. Thinking critically about your essay and rewriting as needed is a vital part of writing a great college essay.

Before you start editing, put your essay aside for a week or so . It will be easier to approach it objectively if you haven't seen it in a while. Then, take an initial pass to identify any big picture issues with your essay. Once you've fixed those, ask for feedback from other readers—they'll often notice gaps in logic that don't appear to you, because you're automatically filling in your intimate knowledge of the situation. Finally, take another, more detailed look at your essay to fine tune the language.

I've explained each of these steps in more depth below.

First Editing Pass

You should start the editing process by looking for any structural or thematic issues with your essay . If you see sentences that don't make sense or glaring typos of course fix them, but at this point, you're really focused on the major issues since those require the most extensive rewrites. You don't want to get your sentences beautifully structured only to realize you need to remove the entire paragraph.

This phase is really about honing your structure and your voice . As you read through your essay, think about whether it effectively draws the reader along, engages him with specific details, and shows why the topic matters to you. Try asking yourself the following questions:

  • Does the intro make you want to read more?
  • Is the progression of events and/or ideas clear?
  • Does the essay show something specific about you? What is it and can you clearly identify it in the essay?
  • Are there places where you could replace vague statements with more specific ones?
  • Do you have too many irrelevant or uninteresting details clogging up the narrative?
  • Is it too long? What can you cut out or condense without losing any important ideas or details?

Give yourself credit for what you've done well, but don't hesitate to change things that aren't working. It can be tempting to hang on to what you've already written —you took the time and thought to craft it in the first place, so it can be hard to let it go. Taking this approach is doing yourself a disservice, however. No matter how much work you put into a paragraph or much you like a phrase, if they aren't adding to your essay, they need to be cut or altered.

If there's a really big structural problem, or the topic is just not working, you may have to chuck this draft out and start from scratch . Don't panic! I know starting over is frustrating, but it's often the best way to fix major issues.

what to consider when writing a college essay

Consulting Other Readers

Once you've fixed the problems you found on the first pass and have a second (or third) draft you're basically happy with, ask some other people to read it. Check with people whose judgment you trust : parents, teachers, and friends can all be great resources, but how helpful someone will be depends on the individual and how willing you are to take criticism from her.

Also, keep in mind that many people, even teachers, may not be familiar with what colleges look for in an essay. Your mom, for example, may have never written a personal statement, and even if she did, it was most likely decades ago. Give your readers a sense of what you'd like them to read for , or print out the questions I listed above and include them at the end of your essay.

Second Pass

After incorporating any helpful feedback you got from others, you should now have a nearly complete draft with a clear arc.

At this point you want to look for issues with word choice and sentence structure:

  • Are there parts that seem stilted or overly formal?
  • Do you have any vague or boring descriptors that could be replaced with something more interesting and specific?
  • Are there any obvious redundancies or repetitiveness?
  • Have you misused any words?
  • Are your sentences of varied length and structure?

A good way to check for weirdness in language is to read the essay out loud. If something sounds weird when you say it, it will almost certainly seem off when someone else reads it.

Example: Editing Eva's First Paragraph

In general, Eva feels like her first paragraph isn't as engaging as it could be and doesn't introduce the main point of the essay that well: although it sets up the narrative, it doesn't show off her personality that well. She decides to break it down sentence by sentence:

I dialed the phone number for the fourth time that week.

Problem: For a hook, this sentence is a little too expository. It doesn't add any real excitement or important information (other than that this call isn't the first, which can be incorporate elsewhere.

Solution: Cut this sentence and start with the line of dialogue.

"Hello? This is Eva Smith, and I'm a reporter with Tiny Town High's newspaper The Falcon. I was hoping to ask you some questions about—"

Problem: No major issues with this sentence. It's engaging and sets the scene effectively.

Solution: None needed, but Eva does tweak it slightly to include the fact that this call wasn't her first.

I heard the distinctive click of the person on the other end of the line hanging up, followed by dial tone.

Problem: This is a long-winded way of making a point that's not that important.

Solution: Replace it with a shorter, more evocative description: " Click. Bzzzzzzz. Whoever was on the other end of the line had hung up."

I was about ready to give up: I'd been trying to get the skinny on whether the Atlas Theater was actually closing to make way for a big AMC multiplex or if it was just a rumor for weeks, but no one would return my calls.

Problem: This sentence is kind of long. Some of the phrases ("about ready to give up," "get the skinny") are cliche.

Solution: Eva decides to try to stick more closely to her own perspective: "I'd heard rumors that Atlas Theater was going to be replaced with an AMC multiplex, and I was worried." She also puts a paragraph break before this sentence to emphasize that she's now moving on to the background info rather than describing her call.

what to consider when writing a college essay

Step 7: Double Check Everything

Once you have a final draft, give yourself another week and then go through your essay again. Read it carefully to make sure nothing seems off and there are no obvious typos or errors. Confirm that you are at or under the word limit.

Then, go over the essay again, line by line , checking every word to make sure that it's correct. Double check common errors that spell check may not catch, like mixing up affect and effect or misplacing commas.

Finally, have two other readers check it as well . Oftentimes a fresh set of eyes will catch an issue you've glossed over simply because you've been looking at the essay for so long. Give your readers instructions to only look for typos and errors, since you don't want to be making any major content changes at this point in the process.

This level of thoroughness may seem like overkill, but it's worth taking the time to ensure that you don't have any errors. The last thing you want is for an admissions officer to be put off by a typo or error.

Example: Eva's Final Draft (Paragraphs 1 and 2)

"Hello? This is Eva Smith again. I'm a reporter with Tiny Town High's newspaper The Falcon , and I was hoping to ask you some questions about —" Click. Bzzzzzzz. Whoever was on the other end of the line had hung up.

I'd heard rumors that the historic Atlas Theater was going to be replaced with an AMC multiplex, and I was worried. I'd grown up with the Atlas: my dad taking me to see every Pixar movie on opening night and buying me Red Vines to keep me distracted during the sad parts. Unfortunately my personal history with the place didn't seem to carry much weight with anyone official, and my calls to both the theater and city hall had thus far gone unanswered.

Once you've finished the final check, you're done, and ready to submit! There's one last step, however.

Step 8: Do It All Again

Remember back in step one, when we talked about making a chart to keep track of all the different essays you need to write? Well, now you need to go back to that list and determine which essays you still need to write . Keep in mind your deadlines and don't forget that some schools may require more than one essay or ask for short paragraphs in addition to the main personal statement.

Reusing Essays

In some cases, you may be able to reuse the essay you've already written for other prompts. You can use the same essay for two prompts if:

Both of them are asking the same basic question (e.g. "how do you interact with people who are different from you?" or "what was an important experience and why?"), or

One prompt is relatively specific and the other is very general (e.g. "tell us about how your family shaped your education" and "tell us something about your background"), and

Neither asks about your interest in a specific school or program.

If you choose to reuse an essay you wrote for a different prompt, make sure that it addresses every part of question and that it fits the word limit. If you have to tweak a few things or cut out 50-odd words, it will probably still work. But if the essay would require major changes to fit the criteria, you're probably better off starting from scratch (even if you use the same basic topic).

Crafting Supplemental Essays

The key to keep in mind in when brainstorming for supplemental essays is that you want them to add something new to your application . You shouldn't write about the same topic you used for your personal statement, although it's okay to talk about something similar, as long as you adopt a clearly different angle.

For example, if you're planning to be pre-med in college and your main essay is about how volunteering at the hospital taught you not to judge people on their appearance, you might write your secondary essay on your intellectual interest in biology (which could touch on your volunteering). There's some overlap, but the two topics are clearly distinct.

And now, you're really, truly, finally done. Congrats!

what to consider when writing a college essay

What's Next?

Now that you know how to write a college essay, we have a lot more specific resources for you to excel.

Are you working on the Common App essay ? Read our breakdown of the Common App prompts and our guide to picking the best prompt for you.

Or maybe you're interested in the University of California ? Check out our complete guide to the UC personal statements .

In case you haven't finished the rest of the application process , take a look at our guides to asking for recommendations , writing about extracurriculars , and researching colleges .

Finally, if you're planning to take the SAT or ACT one last time , try out some of our famous test prep guides, like "How to Get a Perfect Score on the SAT" and "15 Key ACT Test Day Tips."

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

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Alex is an experienced tutor and writer. Over the past five years, she has worked with almost a hundred students and written about pop culture for a wide range of publications. She graduated with honors from University of Chicago, receiving a BA in English and Anthropology, and then went on to earn an MA at NYU in Cultural Reporting and Criticism. In high school, she was a National Merit Scholar, took 12 AP tests and scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and ACT.

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32 College Essay Examples That Worked

College Essay Samples

Reading college essay examples is a great way of preparing yourself for writing your own. Whether you’re aiming to get into your local college or looking to attend an Ivy League school , your college essay is a key component of your college application.

In this blog, we have 32 awesome college essay examples from some of the top universities in the world, including Harvard, Stanford, Cornell, UPenn, Yale, and more! Plus, you will learn how to craft an outstanding college essay step by step, so that your own personality and experiences will really shine. This is the same exact proven strategies our college essay advisors share with our own students in our much sought-after college admissions consulting program . We're not holding back. So, let's dive in!

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

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Article Contents 54 min read

Why a college essay matters.

A personal statement essay or a college admissions essay is the part of your college application that allows the admissions committee to get a stronger sense of who you are as a candidate. The admissions committee is not only seeking academically strong candidates for their school – they want to find students who will also be a good fit for the culture and values of their institution. The personal statement essay is your chance to show the committee why you are the best all-around candidate for admission.

Your essay will reveal both your hard and soft skills to the admissions committee. From a technical angle, it will showcase your writing skills in terms of organization, clarity, narrative ability, and spelling and grammar. In terms of content, a compelling personal statement should tell a story that reveals something about your personality and what formative experiences you have had in your life. Since the personal statement essay reveals so much about you as an applicant, crafting an outstanding essay is crucial! 

Writing a strong college essay requires significant time and effort. The best way to ensure success is to be properly prepared before you even begin to write:

How to Structure Your College Essay

Most personal statements tend to range from 250 words to 650 words in length. The specific format requirements can vary depending on if you’re writing a common app essay or a unique college admissions essay for a specific school. The structure of your essay will follow the structure of an academic paper, with an introduction, main body, and a conclusion. As our sample above shows, it is usually written in response to a prompt provided by the school. It is important to pay attention to and answer the prompt, as it demonstrates what the school is hoping to learn about you.

While this task may seem challenging, we are here to guide you through the writing process and the strategies you should apply each step of the way.

Great content requires a solid structure to really shine:

For example: \u201cAlthough being a member of a community isn\u2019t always easy, my experiences have taught me that helping others is also a gift to ourselves \u2013 perhaps solitude isn\u2019t the \u2018best society\u2019 after all.\u201d ","label":"Conclusion","title":"Conclusion"}]' code='tab1' template='BlogArticle'>

Here’s a short guide on how to write a college essay !

6 Tips for Effective Essay Writing

No matter what the prompt is, here are some tips and strategies that are essential for effective writing in any essay:

1. Do not plagiarize.

Your essay needs to be an honest representation of your abilities. It also needs to tell your story, not someone else’s. Copying someone else’s essay violates the rules of academic integrity. Always make sure that you are writing about your own experiences in your own words.

2. Say it with feeling.

Choose topics that you are passionate about – if you aren’t enthusiastic about what you’re sharing, then your audience won’t be excited to read what you have to say, either. Write about how situations made you feel, what you learned from your experiences and how it will serve you in the future. An essay written on a topic that you are passionate about will have a more genuine voice and will make for a more compelling and memorable read. Be sure to avoid clichés like “I know how to think outside of the box” that will sound impersonal and uninspired, and instead express yourself in your own unique and meaningful way. The personal statement essay is your one chance to showcase your personality and character, so let your natural voice shine through!  

3. Show, don’t tell.

Here is one of the best college essay tips : it is important to always give examples and use specific experiences to illustrate what you wish your reader to know about you, instead of merely summarizing or listing facts about yourself. Your experiences are stories, and when you tell your story in a well-organized and vivid way, it makes it easier for the reader to stay engaged and remember afterwards what you have shared with them. For example, simply stating, “I have a strong sense of community” can sound like an empty claim. Showing your reader how and why you have a sense of community is both far more memorable and far more effective in offering proof for what you’re saying (e.g. sharing an experience about working in a soup kitchen, and what it taught you about community). 

If your essay is over the word limit set by the school, you will appear to either not care about the rules in place or to have failed to pay attention to them. Either way, you will damage your standing as an applicant! Check your word counts to make sure you are within the proper range. If you have written too much, edit your work to make it shorter. Clear and succinct writing will create a good impression, so being under the word limit is acceptable as long as you have answered the prompt and effectively conveyed your experiences. 

5. Proofread your work.

As mentioned above, your college essay reveals a lot about your writing skills to the admissions committee. A compelling personal narrative can still end up undermined or muddled by poor spelling, grammar, and confusing syntax. Don’t let typos and grammatical errors let your essay down! You need to commit to proofreading your essay multiple times at each stage of the process, to make sure it is clearly and correctly written.

Additionally, get someone else to proofread it too! Ask a college essay review service or editor if you addressed the prompt effectively, if your essay makes sense, and if your message is clear. Ask them for their impression of the person writing the essay. How would they describe this person? Does that match with what you were trying to convey? What did they think of the tone of your essay? 

Ask a good teacher, a counselor, or another professional to go over your draft. However, choose your proofreader with care: if you let too many people read it, you may end up with too many conflicting suggestions and opinions. Ideally, your proofreader should be someone you trust, and who can provide you with honest feedback on the content and grammar of your essay. Be sure to share the essay prompt with your reader so that he or she can tell you whether you have answered the prompt effectively.

6. Read that prompt one last time!

It’s an excellent idea to go back and re-read the prompt one last time after you’ve completed the final draft of your personal statement essay. This way, you’ll be absolutely sure that you have responded to the prompt effectively. Double-checking before submission also ensures that you did not go too far off-topic in any way during the multiple re-writes you’ll have to do in perfecting your college admission essay. 

Don’t forget about supplemental college application essays ! Here’s a guide on how to write one:

College Essay Examples #1/32: Harvard

Prompt: The Harvard College Honor code declares that we "hold honesty as the foundation of our community." As you consider entering this community that is committed to honesty, please reflect on a time when you or someone you observed had to make a choice about whether to act with integrity and honesty. (650 words)

"I sit in a hot SUV winding it’s way over a bumpy African road, a scarf protecting my nose and mouth as dust streams in through the window. Returning from a teaching session with the Maasai women, the other students' excited chatter dances around me as they discuss our invitation to the Maasai coming of age ceremony. The ceremony centers on the circumcision of pubescent males and females; often performed with a sharp rock and no anesthetic. It is a rite of passage for the Maasai. My stomach is a tight knot, picturing the children we met today and imagining the painful procedure they will soon undergo. The other students, excited about the feast and intricate costumes, hope that accepting the invitation will strengthen our bond with the community. I, however, am weighed down by a profound sense of unease when it comes to the main attraction, the circumcisions. Further, the leader of the organization is absent; should she not be consulted? Do I go along with the group, and participate in something that I am morally opposed to? Or do something about it?

For me, the strength of a person’s character is defined by their ability to act on their values and stand up for what they believe in. Having strong moral values only becomes a powerful agent of change when one is willing to follow through on them with action. Situations, such as this one, where I feel a sinking sensation deep in my gut, help to cue me to conflicts with my own values, prompting me to gather more information, thus taking the first step towards informed action.

In this situation, the knots in my stomach came from being asked to participate in the celebration of female genital mutilation; a practice which is decidedly against my personal values of reducing human suffering and promoting women’s rights. My visceral reaction came specifically from the idea of watching while doing nothing to intervene. Further, I worried that, as students, our group would be woefully ill-equipped to navigate the nuances of the situation, potentially resulting in harm to our relationship with the community. Plus, due to our association with a medical organization, our presence could be mis-interpreted as an endorsement of the safety of these procedures. With the potential to do harm and without an actionable plan in place for stopping genital mutilation, I concluded that I could not, in good conscience, attend the ceremony.

Though I had decided that I could not go, I still felt concerned about the potential impact of the group's attendance, and wanted to gain more insight into the situation before deciding on a course of action. I shared my concerns with my partner and another student. My partner agreed with me, and we decided to consult his physician father. We quickly learned that Canadian physicians are not legally permitted to condone female genital mutilation, meaning that our attending the ceremony could have legal ramifications for our physician-run organization. With this information in hand, I knew I had to contact the organization lead about the excursion. She forbid our group from attending, requesting that I inform the other students, who were obviously disappointed that I had 'gotten the trip cancelled'.

Though I believe my course of action was the right one and I would not change the outcome, looking back, I wish I had voiced my concerns earlier; it may have made the end result easier for the other students to swallow. In spite of this, being honest when expressing my discomfort with a situation and choosing an alternative course of action that is aligned with my values has never led me to make a decision that I regret. Though standing up for what you believe in, and doing what is right, is not always easy, it is always worth it, and arguably the only way of living a life without regrets."

Want to learn the 7 most important and easy ways to make your college essay stand out? Check out this video:

College Essay Examples #2/32

Prompt: Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

When I was a child, I loved to play the video game Pokémon. My favorite part was having to go to different places and collect all the animals. Around the same time, I entered Boy Scouts and got engrossed in the idea of merit badges. Each badge could be earned by learning about a topic or a challenge and then doing a series of projects related to it. From fishing to first aid, I quickly found that I loved learning about each new task. In my first year in Scouts, I earned double the required number of badges, and it took off from there. My love of collecting trophies was once again reignited. 

My passion for collecting the Pokémon animals was transferred to Boy Scouts. I had set my mind on earning every merit badge, so I had to tell my parents and my troop. My parents were on board instantly, but my troop took some convincing. Many of them said that it would take too much time; that I’d have to travel to different states for some badges like the snow sports merit badge, or that I’d have to build up the endurance to bike for 50 miles at one time for the bicycling merit badge. I told them that I was eager to do this and that I needed their help to find where the badges were being taught. They chuckled and let me have access to the citywide list. Over the next six years I hiked up mountains, swam across rivers, and camped outside with nothing but a long jacket. As I kept going, my troop's attitude slowly turned from apprehensive to encouraging. Members of the community started popping up to teach some of the more obscure merit badges like atomic energy and bugling. Word of what we were doing spread thought-out the local scouting community and other scouts started joining our mission when someone offered one of the uncommon badges. There was a little boy who must have weighed 80 pounds when he took the computers merit badge with me, and last time we talked, he had been offered a job at Google.

A scout must collect all the badges before his 18th birthday. With the strength of the community behind me, I was able to get my final merit badge a month before my 18th birthday – right before I had to sit for my final interview for the Eagle Scout badge. During that interview, the scout leader asked if I had completed every single merit badge. When I confirmed, he informed me that I had broken a new world record as the first Boy Scout in history to earn every merit badge before earning my Eagle! As he stood up and shook my hand, I was overcome with gratitude for everyone who had gotten me to this point. Every late night with my parents, every merit badge counselor, every teacher, every fellow scout, and every scout leader who helped me achieve that goal. This was about so much more than one scout. This was about a community coming together to make history. Even though this was a few years ago, I look back fondly on all the people who made it happen, and today I am a merit badge counselor myself working to give back to scouting more than what it has given me, even though that might take a while. 

Prompt: Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find, so engaging 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?

I have always been fascinated by history: the rise and fall of empires, the evolution of humanity, innovation, politics, and everything else that made us who we are today. What amazes me so much about history are the moments when everything could have gone differently had it not been for one decision: what if Lincoln was never elected? What if the French Revolution never took place? What if the Magna Carta was never signed?

My love of history likely started in middle school with Mr. Flickerson. He was a very thin, tall man with a giant white mustache who always wore a tweed jacket. He was our history teacher and he always claimed that books didn’t always have everything right. Mr. Flickerson often encouraged us to do our own research and see what else we could find on a topic of interest. If someone could find something from a reputable source that disagreed with the textbook, we got five bonus points on a test.

I still remember how excitedly he recounted old battles. He would do gruff voices for generals and deftly switch to a hilarious high pitched voice for the ladies. His passion for history greatly affected his students, and by the end of the year, we were shooting history reenactment videos in full costume. Since then, history has always held a special place in my heart.

Now when I exercise, half of my podcasts are all history related. I remember once getting so engrossed in a podcast about Genghis Khan that I stayed at the gym for three hours! On the one hand, he was a vicious warrior and tyrant, but he was also an innovator and loyal leader. He allowed women to serve in leadership positions. He even promoted freedom of religion. There are many stories of him eating on the ground or from an old wooden bowl while his guests dined using the fine silver. 

From history, we can learn a lot about the complexities of humanity. We can see how people in the past dealt with issues and what their results were. In its way, history sheds light on our present and future. 

Here’s why “show, don’t tell” is the most important rule for writing any personal statement:

College Essay Examples #4/32

Prompt: The mission of Harvard College is to educate our students to be citizens and citizen-leaders for society. What would you do to contribute to the lives of your classmates in advancing this mission? (650 words max)

The phrase “citizen-leader” is important to distinguish from conventional ideas about leadership. Rather than leading by trying to single oneself out among peers, I believe that real leadership comes through effecting palpable change in the lives of those around you. Effective leaders don’t stand apart from their communities, but rather strive to become as deeply rooted within them as possible. A real leader is first and foremost a citizen, a peer, and a support for those around them.

My sense of leadership has been shaped by my father, whose nearly 25 years in public education have positively impacted hundreds of students. Each year he would come home on the last day of a school year with dozens of cards and gifts, from both current students graduating and former students who stopped by to thank him sometimes years after being his students. He was a leader—someone who helped others learn to find themselves, rather than direct their actions or words through conventional authority. I’ve come to believe that power it is the ability to encourage people to evolve, and that sustained, successful leadership is measured only by the success and wellbeing of the people around you.

As a result of this understanding, I’ve maintained an active presence in my high school’s peer tutoring program throughout my junior and senior years. Since I also hope to become a teacher, this has provided important experience that helped me better understand the kind of communication and time management skills needed to help people overcome their educational obstacles, specifically regarding their writing skills. The Academic Resource Center’s Peer Tutoring program at Harvard is one of the central ways in which I’d like to help lead my fellow students toward a better understanding not only of rhetoric and composition, but of the world in general.

Coaching in sports is another mode of leadership that I hope to maintain at Harvard. Powerlifting has had a major place in my extracurricular life during high school and I was thrilled to learn that Harvard boasts a competitive powerlifting club. This goes back to the metric of encouraging success and wellbeing of others — the powerlifting club presents an opportunity in which I can further develop these skills along with my fellow barbell enthusiasts. I’ve found strength sport environments to be really egalitarian and accessible, with a continual emphasis on collaboration and mutual support that’s unique among team sports. The path to becoming a more effective leader comes from forging bonds and developing skills alongside other people, so that eventually your ability to lead follows naturally from the experience and abilities you’ve honed over years of work. By lifting up oneself and others, we eventually pass a threshold into becoming beacons of knowledge, exemplars of ethical and effective action, and citizen-leaders.

This all further galvanizes my desire to teach following my time at Harvard. I feel incredibly fortunate that my current passions in writing and powerlifting will provide opportunities in which I can further develop my leadership skills in a way that will improve my ability to teach them to others. I will strive to continue being a supportive peer and collaborator which is an important foundation for becoming a true leader and educator. Harvard is in every sense the best possible environment for continuing this evolution and encouraging it in my fellow students as well. (556 words)

Write a killer college essay for Harvard by reading some of the best Harvard supplemental essay examples .

College essay examples #5/32: cornell.

Prompt: What is your "thing"? What energizes you or engages you so deeply that you lose track of time? Everyone has different passions, obsessions, quirks, inspirations. What are yours? (maximum of 650 words)

“Bam!” These were the energized words of Emeril Lagasse as he added a touch of parmesan cheese to perfectly top off the dish he had just cooked on live television. Growing up, my sisters and I became hooked on watching chefs like Emeril cook on The Food Network. I never liked mushrooms and despised when my parents included them as we sat down to eat dinner together each night. My parents said that if I did not like it, I could cook dinner myself. I had been watching cooking shows, so I decided to try my hand at cooking our family meals. My parents were thrilled to have someone else making dinner for the night and I was ecstatic to be put in the decision-making seat for what we would be eating for dinner. Over the years, I continue to cook with my family as a way to grow closer together and I also cook by myself as a form of stress relief. As I chop vegetables, I get lost in the repetitive nature of the task and it becomes a form of meditation for me; something for my mind to focus on that allows me to forget about the troubles of the day. While my love for cooking stemmed from a desire to not have to eat mushrooms with dinner, it has grown into one of my favorite hobbies. At Cornell, I know I will meet a wide range of people and even the typical college student that does not know now to cook and relies on a microwave, pop tarts, and ramen to get through arduous study sessions. I hope to bring my hobby of cooking to Cornell where I can use it to make it through my own stressful hurdles but also to build relationships with my new classmates who may be missing a home-cooked meal.

The college admissions essays for Cornell are a bit different than other Ivy League schools. Brush up on writing Cornell essays and review the essay prompts to start your writing! ","label":"Note","title":"Note"}]' code='tab3' template='BlogArticle'>

College Essay Examples #6/32:

School: Cornell College of Architecture, Art, and Planning

Prompt: What is your "thing"? What energizes you or engages you so deeply that you lose track of time? Everyone has different passions, obsessions, quirks, inspirations. What are yours? (650 words)

It’s 4 a.m. and I’m bent over my computer screen. In front of me is one of the photographs I intend to submit for the Charles Lewin Digital Photo Essay Competition. It is a silhouette shot of a tall, smiling woman – my mother – framed against the backdrop of a gorgeous red sunset. Though I’d used the whip-pan technique to give the photo the same dynamic, inspiring, whirlwind energy I associate with my mother, it’s not quite right. I’ve been fiddling with the white balance and color pallet for hours, trying to capture the perfect amount of luminosity in my mother’s eyes. At that moment, my mother herself comes in, asking why I’m up so late on a school night. When I show her the picture, her eyes light up in exactly the way I’ve captured in the photo. That photo essay, capturing the beauty of three generations of women in my family, went on to win me first place in the competition. And yet the moment that I shall carry with me forever is the one from 4 a.m. that night. The moment when my mother’s eyes lit up in joy and wonder as she understood exactly what I was trying to say through my photography. In that moment, I knew for sure that I’d be chasing this feeling for the rest of my life.

Though that moment cemented my love for photography, I’ve been playing around with a camera since I was 5 years old, when my father first introduced me to his favorite hobby. I was a shy, quiet kid and photography allowed me to experience the world and communicate my feelings like I never could before. Most of our weekends were spent taking pictures, from micro nature photography on our camping trips to event photography for every community event. Even back then, I was constantly asking questions about why one picture looks better than another. I credit my father for helping me develop my photographic “eye”. The training of those early years helped me develop my sense of aesthetic placements, framing, and positioning. 

To this day, I am obsessed with learning about the technical side of photography. I have a natural analytical bent of mind that exists along-side my artistic vision; and so, I gravitate towards understanding exactly how aperture, depth of field, shutter speed, exposure, composition, and white balance can be used as a tool of artistic control in photography. My favorite way to unwind is to read books and online articles about photography and techniques I’m currently obsessed with. I also love experimenting with different styles of photography. Though art photography is my passion, I spent a couple of years as the staff photographer for my high school newspaper. This foray into the journalistic arena helped to broaden my horizons and consider the social impact of photography.

Lately, I’ve become passionately interested in the philosophy and psychology of photography. There are two books that inspired this journey - “The Art of Photography” by Bruce Barnbaum and “Studio Anywhere” by Nick Fancher. These books led me to think deeply about the artistic merit and social impact of photography and inspired me to sign up as a volunteer photographer at the local community center. I remember when an older lady, a little self-conscious about her appearance, asked me to take a photo of her in her evening dress at a fund-raising event. When I showed her the photo I took, her expression transformed from anxiety and discomfort to pride and confidence, just like my mother on that fateful Tuesday night. That’s another moment of joy I’ll carry with me forever.

Alfred Stieglitz once said - “In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.” Every photographer has a vision of their own reality and the greatest joy I feel is when I successfully communicate this philosophy using my work. (648 words)

School: Cornell College of Arts and Sciences

Prompt: Students in Arts and Sciences embrace the opportunity to delve into multifaceted academic interests, embodying in 21st century terms Ezra Cornell’s “any person…any study” founding vision. Tell us about the areas of study you are excited to explore, and specifically why you wish to pursue them in our College. (650 words)

Growing up, I was your average troublesome kid. I rarely turned in homework on time, I frequently landed in detention, and I preferred video games to any other activity. This was me until the age of 14 – and that was when it all changed, thanks to Mr. Robert Brown. I was placed in Mr. Brown’s English Literature class in freshman year. Mr. Brown believed that every student could become interested in English Literature, given the right bait, and for me the bait was science fiction novels. He identified my nascent inclination towards science-based, fantasy worlds, based on my interest in video games, and handed me some choice works by Isaac Asimov, Ursula Le Guin, and Frank Herbert. In a matter of days, I was hooked. 

Looking back, I can appreciate how deeply transformative that period of my life was. Science fiction fulfilled all of my natural inclinations towards an exploration of imagination and wonder within the limits of a rule-bounded world. At the same time, it awoke in me a deep and abiding interest in larger questions of philosophy, sociology, technology, and ethics. I had a new-found love for not only English Literature, but also Physics, Biology, Chemistry, and Math and my overall grades improved tremendously. I often took up projects for extra credit just so I could explore a particular new topic I was obsessed with. Specifically, I loved to take up parallel projects in different classes since I loved exploring two different sides of the same essential question. For instance, in my sophomore year, I wrote a paper on Darwinian Evolution in Mid-Century American Fiction for my English Literature class, while also working on an extra-credit class presentation on the Darwin’s Theory of Evolution for Biology. This kind of dual-natured exploration of topics is something I want to pursue throughout my life.

Over time, my interest in the fictional explorations of socio-scientific questions expanded to the real world. In particular, I developed an interest in biotechnology innovations such as gene-therapy, drug engineering, and agricultural biotechnology and I even started a YouTube channel to provide commentary on the latest scientific news. My scientific interests led me to real-world activism in my junior year when a biotechnology company came to our town to offer “free” genetic sequencing for the population. I organized an informational campaign highlighting their lax privacy and data protection terms. Thanks to our efforts, the company revised their terms to ensure greater privacy for the genetic information of all participants.

This experience sparked my interest in medical ethics as a career and I am now actively seeking an education that will allow me to pursue both the scientific and philosophical questions related to technology, society, and ethical limitations. I believe the Science & Technology Studies major at the Cornell College of Arts and Sciences offers a unique opportunity to pursue the holistic, balanced education I seek. 

Though I know what I eventually want to major in, it is also particularly important to me to continue building my knowledge base in both humanities and sciences, before declaring my major. The holistic, balanced curriculum at your school allows me this freedom. At Cornell, I will have the chance to acquire philosophy AND biology mentors, interact with students who have varying subject matter interests, and complete an independent research study in any topic of my choosing. 

It’s strange to think that just a few years ago, I cared about nothing more than my League of Legends avatar and Minecraft cohorts! And yet, that love for video games was the first step in my journey towards finding answers to the greatest socio-philosophical and scientific questions of our times. I hope Cornell College of Arts and Science can be the next step in that journey. (623)

Want to get into a top school but have a low GPA? Here’s what you can do:

College Essay Examples #8/32: Princeton

Prompt: At Princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. Share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. What insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future? (250 words)

As captain of my high school basketball team, I have led my team to many hard-earned victories and a few crushing losses. Yet the most difficult moment of my football career took place off the field. It was the morning after our last game of the season, when Tyler, one of my classmates, approached me to ask for a favor. He said that a group he was a part of called the Hands-On organization were planning a new campaign that they’d love my support with, as captain of the football team – a campaign to request a different school mascot. You see, our school team was called the “Lincoln Indians” and our mascot was a stereotypical representation of an Indian. In our small town located in rural Montana, this has never even been recognized as an issue and initially, I, too, didn’t comprehend why it might be one. Tyler took the time to explain to me how it made him feel to see his identity masqueraded as a costume. It was a revelation to me to learn how traumatized he felt at every game. It was a brief conversation which made me re-think a lot of things I had taken for granted; ultimately, I was enlightened and humbled. Thanks to Tyler’s efforts, we have a new team mascot. As for me, I am now a member of the Hands-On organization myself, and I want to continue to use my voice to create awareness around the issues affecting minorities in our country. (250) 

If you\u2019re planning to apply to Princeton, read some more Princeton essay examples to get you started! ","label":"College Diversity Essay","title":"College Diversity Essay"}]' code='tab4' template='BlogArticle'>

College Essay Examples #9/32:

School: Princeton University 

Prompt: Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. Tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect) with these ideals. (250 words)

I was 14 when I met Jennifer at the local Literacy Volunteers and Advocates (LVA) chapter. At this time, I was going through the basic motions of volunteering without truly understanding the impact or significance of what I was doing. Jennifer was an immigrant from Mexico and attended my computer literacy class at LVA. She was one of the few new immigrants who could speak English fluently, and so she served as the unofficial translator at our LVA center. Once, I asked her if she didn’t find it annoying to always have to leave her own tasks and go running off to translate for other people. She told me that for her, it was a privilege to be able to do this for others and the biggest annoyances were the authority figures who displayed impatience, discrimination, and cruelty towards immigrants. Her words had a lasting impact on me and from that moment, I saw so many instances of inequity, cruelty, and injustice that I had not even registered before. At the same time, I recognized the potential I had to make a real difference in people’s lives. I decided to take on a full-time Spanish tutor and in a couple of years, I was near-fluent in Spanish. My life’s goal is to continue practicing my Spanish language skills through my undergraduate education and to eventually enact provisions in politics and society to counter the language barrier that so many immigrants face. (241)

Prompt: The Stanford community is deeply curious and driven to learn in and out of the classroom. Reflect on an idea or experience that makes you genuinely excited about learning. (100-250 words)

I have always enjoyed my English Literature classes and Mrs. Sutherland’s junior year Lit class was no different. Our assigned reading was Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It was my first Austen novel, and in fact, it was the first classic novel I had read from that historical period. I knew I’d enjoy the romantic story of the novel; what I didn’t expect was how the social structure of the novel would grip me as I deep-dived into it for our class. When Mrs. Sutherland gave us the freedom to write our English Lit finals paper about any topic, I chose to write about the social fabric of the Regency era. I was fascinated by how the Regency-era economic and military events formed the backdrop for Jane Austen’s social realism. This paper sparked my interest in social history as a field of study, and subsequently, I read as many books as I could about the social, cultural, and economic history of England. Each new topic I read about made me reflect on how social mores and day-to-day social rituals are formed as a result of the major economic, military, and business events of the time. That one semester of English Literature introduced me to a whole new world of learning, questioning, and debating, and eventually helped me define what I wish to study in college. Thank you Mrs. Sutherland! (230)

College Essay Examples #11/32:

School: Stanford University

Prompt: Virtually all of Stanford's undergraduates live on campus. Write a note to your future roommate that reveals something about you or that will help your roommate—and us—get to know you better. (100-250 words)

Dear future roommate,

The number one thing you should know about me is that I live in a state of organized chaos, both in my mind and outside it. For example, I love learning about new topics and my favorite way to learn is to read as much as I can while drinking copious cups of tea. Prepare to often see large piles of books about my latest hyper-obsession lying around! 

Yes, I still like checking physical books out of the library rather than downloading digital copies – that’s another one of my quirks. While I’m open to learning and I enjoy new experiences, I also like the comfort and stability of tradition. In fact, I am also a very traditional student. For me, learning is not just about classes and homework and assignments. I like to bring my learning home with me, and to talk about topics that sparked my interest with my friends. 

For example, yesterday in AP Biology, we learned about invasive species and their impact on ecology. This got me thinking about how human beings could, in our current form, be considered an invasive species, and I later had an interesting conversation with my friend about whether natural corrections could already be occurring in response. 

Along with my piles of books, you can expect me to bring home many ideas, experiences, and speculations to discuss with you, maybe over a cup of tea! (236)

College Essay Examples #12/32:

Prompt: Tell us about something that is meaningful to you, and why?(100-250 words)

I am a passionate advocate for universal healthcare and specifically, equitable, and non-discriminatory access to healthcare for people of all communities. One of my goals in pursuing an education in medicine combined with public health policy is to take tangible actions towards my beliefs. 

Growing up, my family and I never considered “going to the hospital” an option. My parents both had minimum wage jobs with no benefits. Without health insurance, without coverage, healthcare was, to us, a luxury. If we were seriously injured or ill, we would call on “unofficial” doctors – a friendly nurse, a local vet, or the knowledgeable pharmacist who lived above us. I remember when I was 12, my mother, who at the time had an undiagnosed diabetic condition, went into insulin shock, and almost died. Riding to the hospital in the ambulance, I could see that even in that moment, my father couldn’t purely worry about his wife’s life; he also had to worry about the medical bills he’d be stuck with, even if she lived. 

My mother survived, and so did our family, but the suffering of that time still lives with me. It informs my desire to be the best possible doctor I can be, serving communities that need my help. And it’s why my greatest ambition is to one day be in a position to implement effective policies that address the imbalances in our healthcare system. (234)

Is Stanford your #1 choice? Get ready for supplemental applications and read some Stanford essay examples !

College essay examples #13/32:.

School:  Stanford University

Prompt: Tell us about something that is meaningful to you, and why? (Max 250 words)

Cold water splashed my exposed calves as I helped pull the rubber dingy safely to shore. I kept thinking about the line of a poem by Warshan Shire: “no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.” I noted that there were more than 15 small children in the boat. My family and I had been vacationing on a Greek island when we heard cries coming from the sea. We rushed to help and with the aid of locals, we pulled the boat to shore. Luckily everyone survived. A few of those on the boat spoke English; they explained that they were refugees and had fled conflict in Syria. Until that point in my life the concept of a refugee was opaque. Now I understood in a visceral way what it meant to flee one’s country.    

Since this trip one year ago, I have devoted most of my extracurricular hours to a local NGO that helps to resettle refugees. I have convinced many friends to join me as a “buddy” to incoming refugees. We teach each other about our cultures by cooking together, sharing stories, and exploring nature. The more I learn about other cultures, the more I realize that I have much more to learn. What I now know is that is my duty to advocate for those who do not have the power to advocate for themselves and to fight for the rights of those at home and abroad. (248 words)

Prompt: 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.

As a child, I was considered the “fat” kid. I grew much faster than any of my peers and was over a foot taller than every other person in my 5th-grade class. With that speedy growth came a lot of eating and I tended to be overweight for most of my childhood. However, by the start of grade 7, I started to lean out and at the end that year I was finally “in shape.” This new status and change in my appearance led to major changes in most of my relationships: it was easier to make friends, teachers treated me better, and I was picked first for sports teams. Everything seemed to improve. Yet, I remembered what it had been like to be an “outsider” and suffer humiliation for my appearance and weight.

I learned to appreciate the power of humor very early on in my life. Initially, when a classmate went on about how giant or stupid I was, I could not stand up for myself. It was painful and infuriating, but I took the abuse quietly. However, once I learned that I shouldn't take myself and my appearance too seriously, I was able to make fun of myself too. This change in my attitude was life-altering. My classmates' taunts didn't hurt anymore and most of my peers did not want to bully someone who reacted to their abuse with laughter. As the years went on, I would hone this ability, always ready to deflect mean words with a quick joke or a clever comment. I even started using it to swing in and save other outsiders like myself. The key was to distract the bully long enough to escape or to get the bully to start laughing, perhaps even turning them into friends. Once I dropped the weight and became conventionally “normal”, I never forgot what it was like to be different. Since then, I have always worked to include everyone. Inclusion has become a priority to me, as I do not want anyone to experience what I did. A kind word or a quick joke makes strangers feel like friends and speaking from experience, sometimes that’s all we need.

Children can be brutally honest. If they see something different than what they are used to, they have no problem pointing it out. As an adult, this is an endearing trait to see in children, but as a fellow kid, it was difficult to endure. Growing up is hard for everyone, but it is especially rough for people who are different. One of my best friends as a child was a kind girl from Spain whose family always made very fragrant foods. Other children mocked the smell of her lunches, but I was always friendly, and we often enjoyed her delicious lunches together. Together, our respective challenges did not seem so severe.

Growing up as an outsider taught me a lot. Negative experiences are also valuable: knowing what it’s like to be made fun of and excluded teaches you the value of friendship and companionship. I didn’t know it at the time, but hardships can be helpful gifts. The spice of life is variety. If everyone looked, acted, and thought the same, we’d have such a boring world. But instead, we have artists, craftsmen, philosophers, and writers - people who change the world through their uniqueness. 

College Essay Examples #15/32: University of Pennsylvania

Prompt: How did you discover your intellectual and academic interests, and how will you explore them at the University of Pennsylvania? (300-450 words)

Realizing how infinitely fascinating biology could be is a memory steeped in the peculiar odor of formaldehyde. My tiny hand, 9 years old and perpetually snack-sticky enough to leave fingerprints on the glass, reached out and lightly rested on the jar holding what I then called “monster hands”. In reality, this was an impeccably preserved pair of hands from a gout sufferer, one of the thousands of wet specimens in Philadelphia’s Mutter Museum, a place I didn’t know existed prior to my first visit but have not forgotten since.

Though the sight was unusual, I wasn’t scared by this display at all. My parents have since told me that I was overcome with fascination in that moment, genuinely transfixed by what surrounded me. My now-hazy recollection is one of wonder, and a feeling I couldn’t quite describe at the time but now understand to be empathy. “Was he sore?” I asked my parents. My mother laughed and my father calmly tried to explain, in toddler terms, just how much pain this person suffered.

This planted a seed that has since matured into a profound appreciation for the complexity of living systems. And, in more somber terms, a sensitivity to how these systems can short-circuit and create a domino effect of dysfunction that results in everything from uric acid crystals in knuckles to conjoined twins. I’ve since tempered my childhood fascination with more extreme medical conditions, but I can still see, feel, and smell that room in the Mutter. Strange as it may be, my lifelong obsession with medicine and biology comes out of this oddity-packed room, its vaguely astringent air, and impossibly large intestine sitting halfway up the stairs.

Penn’s Musculoskeletal Center is therefore one of the biggest reasons for my application for admission. The center’s current research in both ossification disorders and tissue engineering is incredibly exciting to me, and while I know participation in high-level research is quite limited for undergraduates, nothing would make me happier than to contribute to the MC’s singular work in some small way. Even more generally, the strength of Penn’s biology department will provide an incredible launching pad for more specialized work in medicine following graduation. (363 words)

Here are some top study strategies that will help you during undergrad!

College Essay Examples #16/32:

School: University of Pennsylvania

Prompt: At Penn, learning and growth happen outside of the classroom, too. How will you explore the community at Penn? Consider how this community will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape this community. (150-200 words)

In addition to my academic interests, music will be my main means of exploring Penn’s community. Growing up in a small town of just 600 people meant that my high school was perpetually underfunded and unable to support any music programs. Penn’s symphony orchestra and jazz combos would be my first opportunity to utilize years of private lessons and practice I’ve undertaken since early childhood. Moreover, working with such a renowned orchestra will be my first commitment to musical performance outside of small community ensembles. This would enable a previously underdeveloped part of who I am to bloom in the company of incredibly talented musicians and directors. 

Shifting from very introverted, isolated artistic practice to genuine collaboration and community would be a massive evolution for me as both a musician and a person. I would look forward to unbottling the energy I've built up playing along to Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane over the last ten years, energizing and encouraging my fellow musicians and adding a unique perspective as someone who's new to—but very grateful for—larger ensemble performance. (178 words)

Check out some more UPenn essays to find inspiration before writing your own!

College essay examples #17/32: yale university.

Prompt: Yale’s extensive course offerings and vibrant conversations beyond the classroom encourage students to follow their developing intellectual interests wherever they lead. Tell us about your engagement with a topic or idea that excites you. Why are you drawn to it? (250 words or fewer)

Art is always a snapshot of a given cultural and artistic moment, but the physicality of this information in pottery has always fascinated me and encouraged me to be both a voracious researcher and experimenter in my own creative practice Pottery is rightly considered an art, but its underpinnings in chemistry are what have attracted me to this practice and kept me engaged with it over the years. Glazes in particular are endlessly complex, rife with history and a sense of cross-cultural collaboration. In a sense, something as simple as the type of cobalt luster on a Hispano-Moresque plate contains centuries of history, telling stories of resource availability, migration, commerce, and even theology. Yet all of this information must be unlocked through understanding a piece's chemical underpinnings, and specifically the nearly infinite variations in fluxes and ensuing chemical interactions that have shaped—or more accurately, colored—earthenware and stoneware art throughout history.

Yale’s Chemistry BS/MS program will be a demanding course of study, but a big part of my extracurricular and personal development involvement throughout it will remain in the molecular magic of pottery. Much the same way surgeons often engage in very dexterity-dependent arts in their downtime, I look forward to continuing my personal explorations in art-oriented chemistry while further developing my academic proficiencies in the science itself. (217 words)

School: Yale University 

Prompt: Yale students, faculty, and alumni engage issues of local, national, and international significance. Discuss an issue that is important to you and how your college experience could help you address it. (250 words or fewer)

Being called “short stack” is probably common for a lot of 5 year-olds, and it certainly didn’t bother me throughout my kindergarten year. But just a few years later, I came to understand that I was not only significantly shorter than my friends but was in fact growing at a much slower pace. 

I had grown up in a so-called “food desert”. As is the case for most families in these areas, mine rarely had enough money to afford what scarce high-nutrient food we did have access to. This experience has shaped a big part of not only my sense of self but of my desire to pursue a career in policy analysis to help prevent other kids from having food insufficiencies. Legislation around food and specifically its insufficient supply in poorer areas would therefore be a central focus in my individual research in Yale’s Urban Studies program, as well as my graduate and professional work thereafter. 

I feel extremely strongly that I have an ethical duty to utilize the privilege afforded to me by an education at Yale to help other kids grow up happier, healthier, and in more self-sufficient communities. (192 words)

Applying to Yale? Here are some Yale supplemental essays examples !

College essay examples #19/32: columbia university.

Prompt: Columbia students take an active role in improving their community, whether in their residence hall, classes or throughout New York City. Their actions, small or large, work to positively impact the lives of others. Share one contribution that you have made to your family, school, friend group or another community that surrounds you. (200 words or fewer)

The biggest impact I’ve had on my friends and peers was small enough to fit in a shoebox. It started simply: one day in 8th grade, a friend forgot to pack any money, so the rest of us pitched in to buy her lunch. The next day she wanted to pay us back, but I suggested we just stash the $5 in case any of us forget our lunch money in the future. After a few weeks of saving our spare change, we had enough to move our cache to a small shoebox, which then became our friend group’s bank. This caught on quickly, and by ninth grade we began to maintain a class-wide “shoebox bank,” available to anyone who needed lunch money or a few dollars for anything else. 

By the end of high school, this grew into a formal “leave what you can / take what you need” policy that allowed us to donate $400 to our city’s food bank at the end of the year. I couldn’t have done this alone, and so one of the most important things I learned from the success of our shoebox was that a good idea needs community support to succeed. (200 words)

College Essay Examples #20/32:

School: Columbia University

Prompt: Why are you interested in attending Columbia University? (200 words or fewer)

Columbia has long been my magnetic North in the world of American literature. I was an early reader, and became interested in poetry, first the romantics and transcendentalists, then the beats. Tracing the biographies of figures like Kerouac and Ginsburg more recently, I began to realize that they and many other writers whose work had found its way to me spontaneously came with the common thread of Columbia.

My own poetic practice has therefore been deeply informed by the textures and philosophical milieus which stem from Columbia, and a big part of my desire to matriculate. Professor Arsić’s book On Leaving was especially transformative, awakening me to a fuller sense of the interrelatedness of so many American writers like Emerson, and galvanizing beyond any doubt the sense that literary studies was my calling. And on a more concrete level, the resources of both the Burke and Butler libraries would play a central part in my proposed thesis, allowing me to fully enmesh my own academic work with the history that has shaped it. (173 words)

The \u201c why this college \u201d is a common essay prompt for admissions. Be sure your reasons for applying are clear and sound. Outline 2 or 3 reasons why you want to attend and what you will bring to the program, especially if you\u2019re writing to an Ivy League school! Read some Columbia essay examples to see what other prompts you can expect. ","label":"Tip","title":"Tip"}]' code='tab5' template='BlogArticle'>

College Essay Examples #21/32:

Prompt: Please tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the areas of study that you noted in the application. (200 words or fewer)

My first visit to a planetarium at the age of 10 infected me with a specific obsession: infinity. The idea of an ever-expanding universe was so thrilling and puzzling to me that I couldn’t shake trying to understand it. 

For months after my first trip to the Hayden planetarium, I pondered infinity, barely understanding the word itself. This matured into a lasting fascination with number and number theory specifically, and by the time I was in high school I was committed to following this path of knowledge without reservation. The history of number theory formed a prominent part of my elective work as an undergrad, during which I undertook both bibliographic and technical research on Cantor's paradox and "actual infinity" in relation to his lifelong mysticism. 

My commitment to mathematics has grown and become much more specialized since my early bedazzlement by cosmology, but the experience of seeing mathematics as a way of thinking beyond conventional scales and frameworks has remained a central part of my love for the discipline ever since. A life spent exploring the outermost reaches of number and logic has been and still is my deepest desire. (191 words)

Prompt: Brown’s Open Curriculum allows students to explore broadly while also diving deeply into their academic pursuits. Tell us about an academic interest (or interests) that excites you, and how you might use the Open Curriculum to pursue it. (250 words)

Looking through the eyepiece of a microscope, I was amazed to see the individual cells of a sea urchin embryo. In my high school cell and molecular biology class, we were studying the cell cycle and we had the opportunity to harvest embryos from sea urchins to view under the microscope. I had used a microscope before, but only to look at prepared slides containing preserved tissue samples. This was my first time viewing a live sample that I had prepared myself. This experience opened my eyes to the wonders of cell biology and how our scientific world has been expanded with the technology of microscopes. I knew that I wanted to continue to incorporate microscopes into my own learning and to learn as much as I could about cells and their inner workings. With Brown’s Open Curriculum, I am excited to broadly study biology while also diving deeply into the world of cell biology. The excitement I felt when looking through the microscope at a sea urchin embryo is one that I look to bring with me to Brown as my classmates and I embark on expanding our academic horizons and building the foundation needed to be successful in our future scientific careers. 

College Essay Examples #23/32:

School:  Brown University

Prompt: Tell us about a place or community you call home. How has it shaped your perspective? (250 words)

When I was a child, I was upset to learn that my parents had decided we would be moving houses. I did not want to leave the place I had called home for the past thirteen years, the place where I had friends and happy childhood memories. Since this period in my life, I have moved several times and now when I think of home, the first thought that comes to mind is my parents. I realized that home is not a specific place; it is the people that surround you that make you feel at home. This perspective allows me to travel to new places and embark on new adventures with the understanding that I can make any place feel like home. The key is building friendships and relationships with those around you so a place does not feel foreign but rather a place in which you feel supported. As I join your community, I look forward to establishing these relationships as my peers and I build a new home at Brown University.  

If you’re applying to Brown University, be sure to read some more Brown essay examples !

College essay examples #24/32:.

School:  Tulane University

Prompt: Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. 

My arms began to shake as the bag filled up. Soon it became almost too heavy to manage. Finally, the massive Leatherback Sea Turtle had finished laying her eggs and my team and I could move them to a nursery we had prepared. I was in Costa Rica for an AP class in Tropical Ecology and we were tasked with saving these eggs from poachers. We brought the eggs to safety and when we returned two months later, we were able to watch as hundreds of baby sea turtles hatched and made it out to sea. 

This experience was particularly formative for me. I learned two important lessons. The first is the importance of environmental stewardship. Due to trawling, harvesting for consumption, light pollution and other human factors, many sea turtles are now critically endangered. It will be left to my generation to continue the fight to preserve the natural world. I also learned how inequality can contribute to environmental degradation. The poachers, for example, were working-class families who sold the eggs as aphrodisiacs for $USD 1-2 in order to survive. When I heard this, I had to act. By saving the eggs, we may have unintentionally denied these families their means of survival. I therefore, asked my school program if we could brainstorm a solution that would help both the turtles and the locals. We decided to buy their handicrafts at a higher price, to sell back at home. We also established a yearly fundraiser. To date we have helped transition 10 local families from relying on turtle eggs, to selling handmade items. Through this new partnership with the community, we have also established a cultural exchange, in which a few of our youth spend one month in Costa Rica each year while their youth come to the United States. I hope that this will continue to flourish in the years to come. 

With privilege comes responsibility: those of us who have grown up in wealthy societies have largely benefitted from an unequal global system. I believe that it is my duty to use this privilege to help both the world’s human and non-human inhabitants.

Prompt: 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? (600 words)

I had not lived long, but at that moment, I was sure this was the worst day of my life. I was only eleven years old, and I had to listen to a doctor tell my mother that I would have to inject myself every day for the rest of my life. Being diagnosed with Type I diabetes felt almost like a death sentence; my life changed in an instant, and I was terrified of not being able to cope with a chronic disease and afraid that I would never get to be a normal child. Little did I know that this condition would later on allow me to give back to my community through my volunteering initiatives and would make me want to pursue a career where I could help others.

The impact that my disease had on my family was profound. We all had to learn to adjust to a new reality, and I went from having a normal life, to having to mature in a matter of weeks. I knew that it was up to me to make this work, but I felt lost and did not know how to deal with this immense responsibility of managing a new diet, an insulin shot four times a day, and my emotions. After a few days, the initial shock was replaced by denial, then came anger, and little by little, I later gained acceptance. By exercising determination and courage, I decided that even though my disease was now a part of my life, I would not let it dictate who I was or what I could become. I was resolute to do great things.  

Besides the discipline and resilience that I had to muster to live my life as a diabetic, I realized that some things in life are better dealt with by having a support system. With this in mind, I looked for volunteering positions where I could share my experience with others and listen to their own struggles. After I got involved in different initiatives, I decided to organize a support group in high school for students who were dealing with difficult situations and just needed someone to talk to. The group was so successful that I was invited to other schools to talk about what we did and about the difference we made in our members’ lives by just listening to one another. Today, we have more than twenty volunteers, and our meeting times have doubled since we started. Additionally, this group has been a platform for other initiatives that I have helped launch such as fundraising campaigns and mental health events. I do this as I keep looking for ways to get involved in my community and create spaces for people to support one another in difficult times. 

We all have challenges in life. Being diagnosed with a chronic disease at such a young age was devastating for me and my family. However, form this experience I have learned that being disciplined is the key to living a healthy life and that being compassionate is the first step to helping those who need it. When I see how many people have been benefitted from our group, I look back and remember being a scared eleven-year-old, and I feel proud of what I have become. What felt like a death sentence at first turned into a way of supporting others in my community proving that the lessons we take from the obstacles we encounter can, in fact, be fundamental to later success.

Are you applying to any UC schools ? Familiarize yourself with some UC personal statement samples and prompts , since these can be very different from common app prompts! ","label":"Note","title":"Note"}]' code='tab6' template='BlogArticle'>

College Essay Examples #26/32:

Common App Essays

Prompt: Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Staring down at my scuffed Converse Chuck Taylors, I distinctly remember the feeling of heat rising in my cheeks. Somehow, I had landed myself in the principal’s office at the beginning of the school year in tenth grade. I blame it on the growth spurt I experienced the summer before that had single-handedly taken half of my wardrobe out of commission. The polka dot dress skimmed the tops of my knees on the first day of high school was now, apparently, so short that it would “distract the young men” in class. Though I respected the rules at my school, I was infuriated, embarrassed, and confused about being made to feel as though I had done something morally wrong as a result of my height making my skirt length criminally deficient. After sheepishly explaining the situation to my mom, I was relieved to find her just as angry about the school’s actions, and even more relieved when she supported my desire to challenge them.

Challenging the school’s actions ended up being a little more, well, challenging than I thought. Growing up in a conservative area, my defiance was met with disdain and whispers in the hallway about not knowing my place. Thankfully, however, not all of my peers were so resistant to change. After weeks of emails campaigning the student government’s faculty advisor, I was finally permitted to make a presentation about the sexism inherent in the school’s dress code before the student government representatives, who grew excited about the potential to change school policy for the better. Collaborating with each grade’s representative, we organized a school-wide awareness-raising campaign to engender support for our initiative. At after-school sports practices, band rehearsals, and art club meetings, I pleaded with my peers to realize how antiquated these restrictions on girls’ dress were. It was a blatant sexualization of minors’ bodies at best and spread the message that male students were not responsible for their actions when faced with such temptations as exposed kneecaps and bare shoulders. I knew that our school could do better.  

Finally, after months of work, my team of advocates and I obtained 1,000 student signatures and 2,000 parent signatures supporting an initiative to reconsider my school’s dress code through a gender equity lens. I distinctly remember the heat rising in my cheeks as I stepped up to the podium to address the school board, but this time they were flushed with excitement and pride, not shame or embarrassment. Though I did abide by my mother’s censorship of my wardrobe that time—admittedly, scuffed Chuck Taylors did not reflect the gravity of that event—I was so proud to be advocating for gender equity in my school and saving so many of my female peers the trouble of disciplinary action for their bodies being seen. The results of the reconsideration are not yet in, but I learned the power of using my voice for positive social change – something I look forward to continuing in college.

College Essay Examples #27/32:

Prompt: 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?

Nothing compares to the feeling of the first pass of a pigment-soaked brush on a clean canvas. The first slice into a beautifully iced birthday cake or the powerful print of a first footstep in snow may come close, but I can never lose myself in a sugary confection or icy landscape the way I can when standing at my easel. The thrill I felt as a small child when finger painting never left me, though my technique may have improved a bit.

Technique aside, the value of self-expression through artistic endeavor has only grown for me as I mature. Many find cathartic release through journaling or sharing their thoughts with others in conversation, but I feel most connected to my feelings and the world when I put paint brush to canvas. Not all sentiments can be captured in words, which is where art takes over for me. Just as a piece of music can engender poignant emotions in its listener, a piece of art can make a person feel seen in a large and often lonely world. Nobody knew this better than my middle school art teacher Mrs. Williams. She often let me stay in the studio after school to put continuous rounds of final touches on my latest masterpiece, knowing that sometimes my piece did not need those additional strokes, but my soul did. A true artist herself, Mrs. Williams understood how art could tell a story and that sometimes the artist’s need to tell their story in color and shape was more important than the finished product. Over the years following middle school, I visited Mrs. Williams every once in a while and each time was always like no time had passed. We would set our easels side by side and paint, sometimes chatting a bit, but often sitting in comfortable silence as we watched colors blend and form new hues with the flick of a paint brush.

In the middle of my junior year of high school, I received the tragic news that Mrs. Williams had suffered a massive heart attack and passed. Devastated and trying to make sense of the first death I had ever experienced, I turned to my mother for advice. “Well, how would you deal with this if Mrs. Williams were here?” she asked me. Of course. I should have known that was the answer to working through my grief. Grabbing my easel and a stool, I set up on the front porch where I could see the sun filtering through the oak leaves in green and yellow shards of glass, smiled at the memory of Mrs. Williams, and began to paint.

I think by the time we graduate high school, we all fall into the trap of thinking we know ourselves pretty well by now. The truth is, we are only just discovering who we are. And at that point in our lives, we are entering into an incredible period of self-discovery and personal growth. I know I am no exception, and my post-high school years have included some of the most amazing experiences of my life.

Last year was my first opportunity to travel abroad. For someone who rarely strayed more than 100 miles from where they grew up, this was a pretty intimidating choice, but I was excited to travel, to learn about another place and people. For this unique experience, I chose to travel to Japan; a country so unlike my own, I was both excited and worried. Excited for the opportunity, but worried because I speak no Japanese and had never left home before. I wasn’t sure what to expect of myself.

After first arriving, everything seemed to be going well, and I had few problems getting around. The locals were friendly and spoke enough English that I had no troubles. Aside from learning to adapt to a new culture, I had no qualms. That is, until I decided to take a bus trip, by myself, into a rural area of the country to do some sightseeing.

I was traveling alone, and all the other bus passengers spoke little English. After we arrived at our destination, I got off the bus and toured around, taking photos and enjoying some lunch. Unfortunately, when I went to catch the bus back to the city, I discovered it was gone. And from what I could gather at the bus stop, there would be no more buses running until the following week, since it was the weekend. Now that I was in a smaller village, there were virtually no English speakers, but I managed to communicate in the limited Japanese I’d learned.

Basically, there were no options for transport back to the city. I could walk down a mountainside throughout the night, or I could wait until Monday to catch the next bus back. Through some creative communication, I managed to get a place to stay for the weekend. The village didn’t have an official inn, but the owner of the restaurant where I’d eaten lunch was kind enough to rent me her vacant upstairs room for the two days. Even with her limited English and my poor Japanese, we found a way to make it work. She was even nice enough to invite me to eat with her family that night, and give me some suggestions for a hike the next day. When I got on the bus to leave on Monday morning, she waved me goodbye and sent me off with a homemade meal for the journey.

Although the setback I experience seemed at first to confirm my fears that I wouldn’t be able to get myself out of a jam, I still managed to sort the problem out, with some help from a kind woman.

If anything, this experience taught me that I am still learning and still growing. It also showed me that I am much more adaptable and resourceful than I give myself credit for. By being open to new experiences and expanding horizons, I can allow myself to expand, too.

My trip taught me some invaluable things about myself, and definitely changed my perspective of who I am. It also taught me the importance of planning ahead and having a backup travel plan!

College Essay Examples #29/32:

From the time I was in grade school, I thought I was destined to become a scientist. Specifically, I wanted to become a marine biologist. Other students in my class would change their minds from week to week, switching their ideal future careers from doctor to astronaut to musician, never settling on anything and always exploring new possibilities. But I was stuck on marine biology. I was obsessed. Every weekend, I asked to visit the local aquarium.

I imagine my parents were quite pleased with my choice of interest, as they were both scientists themselves. My mother is a molecular biologist, and my father is a neuroscientist and professor. They encouraged my love of science, from bringing me to the aquarium to teaching me to snorkel and scuba dive as I grew up.

In high school, I excelled in the sciences and received high grades. Every academic performance was another step towards my goal of becoming a marine biologist, of being admitted to a good school and focusing on science. But somewhere along the way, my love for science was changed. Not diluted, or split, but evolved into something more. Through science, I discovered a love for art. I can’t pinpoint exactly when this love began, but it was somewhere in the cool, bluish space of the aquarium observation room. Having spent so many hours there, observing the hundreds of different species, studying their patterns, it’s easy to forget that I used to draw sketches of them.

I dug through some old boxes, and as often happens when you’re looking through childhood memories, I found something unexpected. Sketchbooks, crammed full of sketches, diagrams and notes of my favorite aquatic species. There were sketches from things I’d seen while scuba diving or visiting the aquarium—fish with colorful stripes and waving fins, coral with intricate patterns and shapes. I was surprised at the details I’d put into the drawings. After showing them to some friends and receiving positive reviews, a friend of mine convinced me to show my drawings in an art show. I’d never considered art as something other than a tool I used in my scientific studies. It never occurred to me that there was an intersection between art and science. An undeniable connection. How could two disciplines, seemingly opposites, come together seamlessly?

The scientist in me was intrigued that there was an existing relationship between the two I had yet to discover. So, I took my friend’s advice and let them arrange an art show for me. I selected my best pieces drawn in pencil. Then I went back to visit my favorite aquarium. I brought my tools with me, and I commenced my experiment.

For hours, I sat on the benches, drawing sketches, scribbling notes on color differentiation, environment and behavior. Taking my new sketches home, I started experimenting with an entirely new medium: paint. With some help from my friend, I began learning the techniques and methods to create fully colorful paintings of my favorite marine creatures. The results were surprising and stunning.

By the end of a few weeks, I had dozens of pencil sketches and half a dozen smaller paintings. I’d seen how I could develop an eye for color, and use it to capture the exact hues of the creatures I observed. Or how to translate the natural movement of coral and their incredible patterns into flecks of paint. The realism I could create with a few simple things was astounding. I nervously displayed my artwork and waited for my first art exhibition.

The exhibition was a great success, and I even sold some of my paintings. The most notable part of my experience was how it changed my idea of myself. It was surprising and delightful to discover that my passion for science could be expressed so creatively. And that art could understand and capture the beauty of science.

Prompt: 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?

Sample College Essay #30

College essay examples #31/32:, sample college essay #31, college essay examples #32/32:.

Prompt: 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, then please share your story.

Sample College Essay #32

Yes, your college admission essays are important. Although the committee can evaluate your academic abilities based on your grades and test scores, the essay is your chance to present a full, unique story of your experiences. While many students have great marks and scores, the essay is usually the weak link in many students’ applications. You must work hard to create an essay that will make your application stand out.

Each school will have specific instructions regarding the length of the essay, but the range is usually between 250 and 650 words. You need to review the instructions and the word limit carefully before you begin to write.

Writing a strong essay requires a significant commitment of time and energy. Ideally, you should plan on spending 6-8 weeks writing and rewriting your essay. Always remember that a truly effective essay will require multiple drafts!

The essay prompts are typically very open-ended. You can choose to write about any topic you like as long as it directly relates to the prompt. Remember, you must answer the prompt, do not ignore it! As I already said, essay prompts are open to interpretation, so try to be original. Instead of writing about common topics like a sports victory or a difficult test, brainstorm unique ideas for your college essay. Rather than playing it safe, take your chance to be unique and unforgettable.

Your essay is your chance to be personable, real, and honest. Discuss what shaped you and your world view, or what concerns you about humanity’s future, or discuss a painter or a filmmaker who changed your life. Do not be afraid to explore different topics. Put yourself in the shoes of an admissions committee member, wouldn’t you want to read something exciting, new, and different?

Give yourself ample amount of time to prepare your essay. It might take you weeks or even months to shape it into a great paper. Give yourself at least 8 weeks to prepare your submission.

First, make sure you have set aside enough time for your personal essay (6-8 weeks). Then, take some time to familiarize yourself with the culture and values of your school and program of choice, to get a general sense of what sort of person they would value having has a student. Read and re-read the essay prompt several times to ensure that you understand what they expect you to address in your essay. Make a list of qualities and experiences that you may wish to include in your essay. Review your list of experiences carefully to narrow them down to the most significant ones. Once you know which experiences you wish to feature in your essay, brainstorm how you would like to tell your story. Create an outline or some notes sketching out what each section of your essay should cover, and keep it close by for reference while writing.  

It might be a good idea for someone to review your essay. Do not let too many people read it, as too many reviews could make your essay into a melting pot of ideas and opinions. Ideally, your reader is someone you trust and who can provide you with honest feedback on the content and grammar of your essay.

Remember, this is your story. Instead of writing about topics often used in college essays, reflect on your own unique experiences and choose something that will intrigue and interest the admissions committee. You might not think that your life and experiences are very interesting, but you are wrong. Try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and look at your life objectively – dig deep and give yourself time to brainstorm a variety of options.

Your essay will feature an introduction, main body, and conclusion. Good organization is essential in creating a compelling, logical narrative for your reader to follow, so always pay close attention to your essay’s structure. Your introduction should open with an attention-grabbing sentence that captures your reader’s interest and helps to reveal or foreshadow what your essay will be about. Your main body highlights the formative experience (or 2-3 experiences) that you wish to share, and what you learned from that experience. Your conclusion ties your essay together and should leave your reader with an interesting and memorable final thought, which will leave your reader wanting to learn more about you. 

Some colleges may ask you to submit a curriculum vitae, or a CV. This is not a requirement for all schools, but most colleges have some kind of variation of the CV. For example, UC schools ask their applicants to fill out an activities list.

*Please note that our sample essays are the property of BeMo Academic Consulting, and should not be re-used for any purpose. Admissions committees regularly check for plagiarism from online sources.

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Jonathan Walker

Good Post! Amazing tips to me. I also want to study abroad. I have to improve my English. Every night I usually use duolingo to learn more, except for class hours, apkdownload is a reasonable choice for old android users like me. I will try very hard, to study abroad, open my eyes

BeMo Academic Consulting

Hello Jonathan! Thanks for your comment! Good luck!

I think this was a really good articile, I was able to learn a lot for my class!

Hello Sussy! Thanks for your comment.

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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

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

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

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

Brainstorming questions

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.

Vignettes structure

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

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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EssayEdge > Blog > College

When facing challenges while writing your college essays, you can always rely on our services for help. Our platform contains a catalog of articles with tips on how to manage various college essay reports. In addition, working with our team will enable you to learn proper guidelines for writing good essays.

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It is crucial to submit high-quality and unique reports. The paper should also answer the question in the tasks. However, not every student knows the best approaches to utilize when writing their articles. Many would submit unworthy essays because they couldn’t understand the task’s requirements.

It might be challenging to secure help from an expert writer because of the lack of money. But, worry not because our catalog is free, and you can view the articles at no extra charge.

Our catalog provides tips on how to write application essays, personal statements, recommendation letters, and cover letters. You’ll also realize that you can request editing services for other academic or professional papers from different levels and disciplines.

Indeed, submitting an exceptional college essay requires a bit of help from expert sources. Nevertheless, writing unique and relevant reports can help you succeed in whatever you do. It’s thus upon you now, ‘the applicant,’ to present quality documents if you want to excel in life. But where do you start?

The first step to success is to select the right career that you’ve always wanted. Secondly, you can only succeed if you submit quality essays to prove that you are the appropriate candidate. Finally, with some help from our catalog, you can always get the best guidelines for your reports.

What Is the Relevance of Our Catalog?

Admissions are becoming strict, and every candidate should present worthy documents at all times. Learning the necessary skills for writing such papers can be challenging if a student doesn’t get help from professionals.

Applicants get confused with these types of documents. Nonetheless, everyone must present what the committee wants. In such a case, you must be well armed with proper writing skills to manage the essays. By so doing, you can always present worthy reports and convince the audience.

Colleges require students to submit quality essay reports. Therefore, it is incumbent upon you, the student, to present top-grade reports if you want to progress.

The catalog presents helpful tips for writing essays. You can learn how to write college entrance essays, personal statement essays, and application essays. With our help, you will always be ready to work on your pieces and present worthy reports.

Indeed, writing quality essays requires simple skills which you can master within a short time. It only needs patience and practice to learn recommendable writing tips. When you succeed in that, you’ll be ready to present worthy reports to any essay you encounter in college.

How to Write College Essays

Do you need valuable writing tips for college essays? Here is what you should do!

  • Pay attention to the writing guidelines

Every other college essay is different and carries specific guidelines for writing. It is thus vital to understand the guidelines for the article first before writing it. The instructions should guide you on what to write in the essays. When you adhere to the instructions, you’ll be sure of presenting worthy reports.

Before doing anything in your college essays, please be sure that you are in the right direction. Be quick also to determine the correct writing format for your papers. This will vary depending on the career discipline.

The content in your writing matters as this will prove the relevance of your essay. Take your time to understand the instructions. Don’t be afraid to engage your tutors if you need help understanding the task. By so doing, you can determine the best approaches for your college essays.

  • Practice writing skills

When you want to learn how to write a college essay, you should be ready to practice. First, of course, it would help if you had enough time and patience to master proper writing skills. It might take more time to master appropriate writing skills, but it is worth it in the end.

You can also check through examples of college essays written by our professionals. Our copies are of the best quality where you can pick the relevant help for your papers.

  • Planning is key

Indeed, college can be hectic. There are many commitments you will encounter all along. It would help if you had a plan for all that you do.

College essays should be flawless and error-free. You can earn good grades if you constantly present worthy essay reports. Ensure that you have enough time to work on your tasks. With a planner, it becomes easy to submit special essay reports within the recommended time.

It would be best if you had time to research, write and edit the final essay copies. Consider the deadlines for submission before planning. Knowing this allows you to schedule the entire writing process. The deadlines for your tasks should tell when to commence your writing. With that in mind, you can always work backward to develop your plan.

How to Write Good Essays for College

Always be quick to fulfill the requirements for your task. You can verify this by reading through your paperwork before presenting it to the audience. But also, you should always start by understanding the guidelines.  So, what can you do to submit top-grade reports?

Brainstorming allows individuals to utilize relevant approaches in their papers. You can brainstorm for ideas when you have understood the guidelines for your college essay.

You can expand your thoughts and understanding on a particular essay topic when you brainstorm. It allows you to think outside the box and relate the relevant data for the task.

Every college essay should have a legitimate source. It is thus crucial to rely on research work to support your thoughts. Intensive and extensive research is vital to secure backup data for writing. Always rely on legit resources to succeed in this.

You can accumulate accurate data to link to your college essays through research. These resources are helpful when referencing your work. Learning how to write a good essay for college should be easier if you can secure relevant data.

If you want to succeed in your career, you’ll automatically need to present worthy essay reports. Research allows individuals to achieve this and within the shortest time possible. Besides, it helps to expand your knowledge on multiple essay topics.

The quality of your reports matters when judging the standards of the essay. A good paper should present relevant data as a backup. Hence, students should select only genuine sources when researching to cite in their reports.

Proofreading allows students to verify if their work is accurate. You’ll confirm if they comply with the instructions. Also, you can check for errors and correct them. Ensure that you have enough time to proofread your copies, and you’ll submit nothing but excellent reports.

How to Develop a College Essay Outline

Don’t you know how to write a college essay outline? Here is a guide for you!

An outline is a guide to tell you what to present in the essay reports. It represents different sections in an essay report. Consider understanding the writing guidelines before drafting the outline for your papers.

Identify the areas you must present in the essay and draft them down in the outline. Then, you will fill the sections with relevant points collected through research. Always remember to restate the theme of your work which is also the thesis statement.

The outline is equivalent to the final essay report. It can represent the structure or any other feature in your writing. Regardless of how you develop the outline, it should serve the following purposes:

  • Guide the entire writing process
  • Minimize the time you’ll spend when drafting the college essay
  • Summarize the final essay body

With an outline, you can save enough time for counterchecking your work. By so doing, you can continually submit exceptional results. Likewise, you can always submit your reports on time.

How to Write a College Essay Format

The format for college essays will depend on various factors. For example, it will change depending on your career discipline. Also, it varies depending on your tutor’s preference. Regardless of all that, students should always consider the proper formats when drafting their college essays.

You should secure enough time if you want to learn how to write a college essay format. Here is an example of what you should present in a college essay:

  • Introduction – The introduction is the opening paragraph for the essay.
  • Body – Captures all the relevant approaches used in your writing. Always present backup data to support this section. Be quick to acknowledge the sources through in-text citations and references. Represent each new point in a different paragraph. Ensure that the points answer the ‘why’ or ‘how’ in the essay task. Don’t also forget to use transitional words to link the sections.
  • Conclusion – A summary of the essay. Select a significant point to represent your writing. Never introduce new facts in this section. Instead, you can restate the objective of the task as you present the final judgment.

How to Hook an Audience in a College Essay

The following section will guide you on how to write a hook for a college essay.

Indeed every college essay should make sense to the audience. You can achieve this by introducing a hook sentence in your writing. The primary reason for doing so is to capture the audience’s attention. So, how will you do that?

Often, the hook will appear as the first sentence in a paragraph. Ensure that you understand the theme of your essay first to determine how to hook the audience in every section. Make it precise and straightforward. Avoid beating about the bush for the readers to see the worth in reading the entire article. Use simple language to avoid confusion.

One universal hook in an essay is the introduction section. If you want to capture the reader’s attention, you should always indicate relevant points that bring out the aim of the task.

How to Draft a College Essay Introduction

The introduction brings forth the relevance of the essay. It answers questions like, “What is the theme of your work? What should the audience expect? What will the essay answer?”

A good introduction should capture the reader’s attention and urge them to read further. It captures the hook, thesis statement, and a summary of what the audience should expect from the writing. It is always shorter but plays a significant role in the entire essay report. A perfect introduction is a reflection of quality paperwork. For more tricks on how to write a college essay introduction, please consider checking sample copies from the catalog.

How to Write College Admission Essays

When writing admission essays, you should always consider rechecking the instructions one more time. You’ll need a guide on what to include in your papers. Pick the best topic to indicate in your writing.

The introduction for your admission essay should be exciting and eye-catching. Always avoid clichés and funny statements in your writing. It’s also good to use your inner voice when compelling the report, as you’ll be speaking to the reader directly.

Remember also to follow the recommended writing guidelines. You can include examples to support your admissions letter. Last but not least, please countercheck your work for errors. If you master how to write a college admission essay, you can secure the best college of your choice.

How to Write a College Entrance Essay

A college entry essay, also known as a personal statement, is a requisite when applying for college. It should range between 400 to 600 words. Always read the guidelines first before writing this document. Know what the committee wants and how you should draft your copies.

Learning how to write a college entrance essay should be the first step to your career success. Our catalog offers simple tricks for writing professional documents. The guidelines will enable you to present worthy documents.

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Essay Writing Processes

Considering writing contexts.

There are three main contexts to consider when approaching writing:

  • purpose of the writing
  • type of writing
  • reading audience

First of all, writing exists within the context of what you want to accomplish, your purpose: to inform, instruct, analyze, argue logically, evaluate, etc.  For example, if your purpose is to argue logically and persuade your reader of the validity of your stance on an issue, you’ll know even before you start prewriting that you’ll need to include support that addresses the opposing side in order to create a balanced presentation.

Secondly, writing exists within the context of the type of writing you intend to do: blogging, business proposal, case study, academic writing, etc.  In a study of college writing, you’ll most likely be writing either research or non-research essays. Knowing the type of writing that you intend to do can help you make decisions about content, format, and overall approach. For example, if you’re writing a non-research essay offering your own reflections or observations on contemporary manners, you may decide that it’s fine to use a light-hearted tone and informal writing style. You may decide on a more formal approach if you’re writing an essay based on an assigned textbook reading on contemporary manners for a sociology course.

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All three contexts are important to consider, sometimes before and definitely after you prewrite. Note that it’s also useful to consider contexts in the writing and revising stages to ensure that you’re clearly addressing your purpose, audience, and conventions for the writing type.

  • Considering Writing Contexts. Authored by : Susan Oaks. Provided by : Empire State College, SUNY OER Services. Project : College Writing. License : CC BY-NC: Attribution-NonCommercial
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what to consider when writing a college essay


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It's college application season. High school seniors can streamline the essay writing process with a few simple tips.

Cynthia Muchnick is the author of " Writing Successful College Applications ." She's advised hundreds of students in their college application process and has noticed a few tips seem to make essay writing less daunting.

Need to brainstorm a personal anecdote? Try going through family photo albums to jog some memories.

"Students often hear these stories about themselves that their parents have told them. Once they see the photos of those experiences or read about them in letters or journals, it brings the stories to life," says Muchnick.

Muchnick estimates the average admissions officer reads 25 applications at a time. That makes a strong start critical.

She suggests applicants "think about using your five senses when you write. Touch, sound, taste, smell. Bring the reader into the moment right away, and try to hook them in."

And finally, don't forget to have a trusted reader look over your essay or personal statement before submitting anything. Consider asking your English teacher. Make edits but resist the urge to scrap an essay entirely.

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what to consider when writing a college essay

7 Questions to Help You Start Writing Your College Essays

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Pascale Bradley in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.

Writing your college essays can seem like a daunting task, especially given how important essays can be in college admissions decisions. This is why the hardest part of the process is often just the act of getting started. In this article, we discuss a variety of brainstorming exercises that you might find useful when working on your college admission essays. 

You should experiment with various types of brainstorming exercises and determine which ones work best for you. These include free writing, creating lists, making outlines, and having brainstorming conversations with someone you trust, like a CollegeVine expert . To help you get started with brainstorming, however, check out these prompts and questions.

1. What is the most recent news story you read and found interesting?

This is a great question to reflect on because it can help you identify social or political issues and causes that you care about deeply. This does not mean you have to talk about politics or social justice issues in your essays, but starting your brainstorming process by thinking about the issues that resonate with you can help you reflect on your values, which are what you want to highlight in your essays. Writing about social or political issues can actually be quite difficult due to the human factor in college admissions, but writing about yourself and your values will always interest admissions officers. 

2. What are you most proud of having accomplished, and why?

When brainstorming using this question, it can help to try to keep an open mind when considering your accomplishments. You want to focus specifically on what you are most proud of—not your friends, your parents, or your teachers. How you respond to this question could demonstrate to college admissions officers what you consider most important about yourself and what you want others to know about you. 

3. What are you looking for in your college experience?

Reflecting on this question is extremely important throughout the entire college process, but this is especially true when writing your supplemental essays. One of the main purposes of your college-specific essays is to emphasize your fit with a school, and understanding your goals for going to college can help you better articulate the ways in which a particular college will suit you. It is also crucial for college admissions officers to understand your motivations for going to college and whether attending college is a deliberate decision that you are making, given your goals and aspirations.

4. Describe a time when you were anxious or nervous. Why did you feel this way and how did you navigate the situation?

It can be valuable to reflect on this topic to help unlock a sense of vulnerability in your essays. Admissions officers rarely get to see the real you within your college applications, and gaining an understanding of how you overcome challenges can help you stand out as a candidate. Your essays should demonstrate that you have the ability to handle difficult emotions and situations, so admissions officers understand how you would react to and cope with the pressures of being in a rigorous academic environment.

5. What is a topic or question that you recently googled for your own edification? 

Brainstorming for this prompt reveals the topics and questions that you are naturally fascinated by. It is essential to have a good understanding of your interests as you are forming your college applications, but it is particularly valuable when you are writing any version of the “ why this major ” essay. Admissions officers generally want to know that you are self-driven and intellectually curious, and your essays are the best opportunity you have to convey your interests outside of the classroom.

6. What have you learned from the community in which you grew up? What do you value about it?

Our communities often significantly impact the people we become and our values. It is important to convey these things through your essays, and reflecting on these questions can provide you with examples and anecdotes that you can pull from when discussing your background. In all of your essays, you want to help admissions officers better understand the type of person you would be within their college community.

7. What have you most recently changed your mind about? When, how, and why did this happen?

Admissions officers are interested in learning about your own personal growth and intellectual development. Colleges and universities want students who will continue to push themselves and grow in a new environment. By reflecting on this question, you can better express how open you are to different ideas and the circumstances under which you are willing to change your mind.

For more information about how to write strong college admission essays, review our comprehensive article, “ How to Write the Common Application Essays ,” and read “ 19 Stellar Common App Essay Examples ” to get inspired.

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How to Write a College Essay for Successful Admission: Step-by-Step Guide

How to Write a College Essay

Table of contents

A college application essay is a written piece that applicants submit as part of their college admission process. It serves as an opportunity for prospective students to showcase their personality, skills, experiences, and aspirations to the admissions committee. A college essay helps the admissions officers understand the applicant beyond their academic achievements, test scores, and extracurricular activities.

So if you ask what the most important part of a college application is, we will bring your attention to college essays. What can be more important than the text where you introduce yourself, define your future life and career goals, and show motivation to be a student? A college admission essay is really a big deal, and you need to put all your efforts into writing a winning essay. 

This blog is your guide to writing a college essay that will bring you to your dream university. Here you can find a definition and basic explanation of what the admission committee wants to see in prospective students' essays. And what is more important, here you can find useful tips that will make your admission paper successful! Avail from our college essay writing help to nail your admission essay effort-free!

What Is a College Essay: Definition

When applying to college , you will find that most competitive schools require you to submit college essays along with a personal statemen t. First and foremost, let;’s define what a college application essay is.

A college essay is a one-page-long essay that outlines your life story, worldview, educational background, and future plans. This is your chance to introduce yourself to the admission committee, who read thousands of essays, but should pay attention to your story! This is why creating a strong college essay that will make a committee consider your application is so important. 

An application essay is not too long, usually around 650 words. In past years, many colleges have gone to “test-blind” admission, which means college admissions officers start application evaluation by reading essays and not rating your grades and test scores. This is why a good college essay is one of the most essential parts of your application!

But how to make your college admissions essay stand out? This is what we are going to learn from the following sections.

Purpose of a College Admissions Essay

If you want to write a good college admissions essay, you need to understand what the committee wants to see in this text. In other words, what is a college essay's aim, and why did it become more important than test scores? 

The main purpose of a college essay is to underline your best skills and make an introduction to a committee that will make them want to see you as a student in a particular college. 

Here is a list of goals that college essays have, and you should be clear with them in writing a compelling admission essay:

  • Demonstrate your personality and passion for education or a specific field
  • Underline your soft skills (e.g., leadership, creativity, problem-solving approach in study, analytical thinking)
  • Show if you are a good match for college
  • Epitomize your constancy with educational and career goals.

What Makes a Good College Essay?

Thousands of colleges and universities in the US admit students because they find their essays a perfect match for their place. But what makes some application essays good for Harvard and Yale , and others – for the University of Texas at Austin or Wisconsin School of Journalism ?

Let’s define what makes a powerful and winning college essay. In general, it should:

  • Reflect students’ thoughts and beliefs that make them a good fit for the program.
  • Answer the question of what unique perspective the student can bring to university life.
  • Show tremendous passion for education and building a future career.
  • Be well-structured and don’t contain any spelling or grammar mistakes.
  • Be memorable for the committee and make them consider your personality.

How to Write a College Application Essay Step-by-Step?

When you have a basic knowledge of what you need to include in your college essay, you will need to begin organizing your ideas. But how to start a college essay? What examples to incorporate? How much time do you need for this task? 

Let’s discuss what you should write in your college essay. We will answer all your questions in the next paragraphs of our guide. Let’s learn about creating a fantastic piece that will make you a student at a dream school!

1. Read the Task Carefully

When you write your college admission essay, start by carefully reading the requirements from each school you are applying to. In most cases, officers outline specific instructions on the admission page. For example, some universities will ask you to write no more than 500 words, while others will require you to address particular questions like your career plans. 

You may think that all college essays are the same. However, competitive schools may have unique requirements. And it is not a surprise. They get thousands of applications yearly and will consider only the best students. Demonstrate that you are one of them!

2. Come Up With Ideas From Your Life

Writing an admissions essay is telling a story that reflects your beliefs and personal feelings. What can be better than bringing examples from your life? Maybe it was something or someone who helped you become who you are today. Share the story about it! 

Be authentic, as this is the only way to stay real and honest. You may have an experience that no one else had, and it made you make a decision on your future life and career. Think carefully about the people, things, and circumstances that formed you and your passion, and you can write in your essay. Also, it should be something that is really important to you and your choices, not just a fun story from your life.

3. Interest a Reader From the Get-Go

Start your college essay writing from a hook. What does it mean? You need to be emotional, interesting, and specific at the beginning of the text. Why is it important for an exceptional college essay? 

First and foremost, you will be one of the thousands which means that you will have a few seconds to get the admission officers involved. It should be catching text from the first sentences. Astonish your reader, show your relevance to the program, and impress them with a bold position. You can also integrate an inspirational quotation that will lead further to your text.

You may also begin a college application essay with a story relevant to your application. It can be something that influences life decisions or causes research passion. 

>> Learn more: How to Write a Hook in an Essay

4. Share Your Personal Experience

College admission essays should inspire readers with a story of your life, and this is why the most essential part is to be authentic. You can’t use someone's story or come up with your own just to make a text more catchy. It should be an introduction to your experience, beliefs, position, and life views. 

The admission committee wants a unique and personalized voice in your text. Include your personal story in a text. It can be something you remember from childhood, important events, or a situation involving people who mentored you. 

Think about your motivation to go to college. When and why did you decide to apply? What story is behind your decision? Remember: your essay should be relevant to your ideas and motivation.

5. Make Self-Reflection

A college essay is not only about numbers or grades, nor it is about test scores and sports achievements. Go deeper into self-reflection and explain what made the kind of person you are now. Your readers want to see that you can deal with complicated situations, are consistent with your dreams, and clearly know your goals. 

The admission board will look at what brings you to the college, your motives, and what circumstances became definitive for this choice. That is why you should spend time on self-reflection and think about prominent things in your experience. 

For example, you can connect your summer job to a future career choice. Or focus on your sports competitions and explain how they made you a stronger person ready for college challenges. Ensure that you utilize transition words to build a bridge between your ideas.

6. Wrap Up Your College Essay

The best college essays will have a great “kicker” at the end – an essay conclusion paragraph that ties pieces together like a puzzle. In other words, you need to compose a final paragraph that will create a lasting impression. Your application essay should guide readers, making them believe you are the best candidate for this program. That is why be careful with a conclusion. It should not repeat all the facts but bring everything together for a logical summary. 

For a solid summary, you must focus on the key points and bring questions for future discussion. Writing admission essays will take a lot of time. Do not skip careful and thoughtful work with the final paragraphs. Clarifying your readers' thoughts at the end of the story is important.

7. Edit Your Draft

A college essay is not a writing test where you should complete 300 words in 40 minutes. Here, your focus is not on how to write an essay quickly . Instead, you should emphasize quality. This is more solid and grounded text, and you need plenty of time for editing and writing. Having your text's first, second, and third drafts is normal. You need to find the outstanding structure and wording that will work best for achieving your goal and being accepted to the university. That is why you need time for essay revision . 

You may also ask friends who are already students to read your text and underline critical points. And it would be great if you could find someone from your target college to read and edit your essay.

Tips for Writing a College Application Essay

A good college admissions essay is your key introduction to the admission committee. They will remember your application based on some details from this text. 

As already mentioned, your college essay should be unique, as no one can speak better for you. This is your voice and life experience; only authentic text can make you a great fit for the program. Discover some application essay writing tips to create a decent piece.

Pay Attention to All Requirements

Many competitive universities have specific college essay requirements. Read carefully what the admission is looking for in students' texts. For example, some universities will ask you to outline what book or person influenced your decision to apply. Sometimes, the college may ask to mention faculty members with whom you want to work in research classes. There also can be specific requirements to how long should an essay be or what citations to include in the text. For example, you may be asked to submit a 700 word essay, double spaced.

Focus on Your Personal Story

Your story and personality are important for a captivating admission essay. Some may say that “sports, disease, death” are taboo topics for college statements. Mostly because those topics are used quite often to underline struggles and challenges. But let’s be honest. This is your story, and you need to be open-hearted. If you think that sport made you become this kind of person, you need to write about it. Do not try to use someone’s story. This is an essay about you!

Use Real Examples to Back Up Your Ideas

How to illustrate your passion for research, persistence in achieving goals, or strength to deal with complicated circumstances? You need to use examples from your life in a college application paper. 

What examples can it be? Think about difficulties in your life and how you dealt with them. Highlight any problem from school or other activity and demonstrate how you solved it. It will be a great way to show your consistent efforts in attaining your goals and managing complicated situations. 

You may think your life is too boring and there is nothing to share with the committee. However, every person can find something fascinating. Just dedicate some time to this task!

Highlight Things That Make You Stand Out

Why should admissions officers consider your application instead of hundreds of others? This is the key question to writing a good text! You need to demonstrate your uniqueness: 

  • Why you are the best fit for the program?
  • What makes you different?
  • Why should you be admitted to this program?

These are the questions to address in your statements. This is a chance to bring attention to your candidacy before the committee moves to test scores and grades.

Write Your College Essay With Committee in Mind

Your essay will be read and evaluated by several people. However, you should feel what they are looking for and what is the ideal candidate for the program. Put yourself into their shoes. Make your text easy to read but also valuable and thoughtful, with deep beliefs and a strong position. They are real people who will read hundreds of essays. Keep in mind this while writing. You must write an essay catered to their expectations!

Avoid Repetitions and Cliches

In your essay, answer all prompt questions and do not repeat any previous application facts. It may be a few open questions in the application, where you should write a short and complete response in 100-150 words. If you have already mentioned examples about sports or volunteering endeavors, do not offer the same examples in the essay. Your key admission introduction should be unique and not repeat any other part of an application.

Read Your Application Essay Aloud

Reading your final text aloud is a great technique to check your text's logic, stylistic choice, and structure. You may spend much time scanning the text and checking each paragraph. But reading aloud will help to make everything clear. For example, you may find some paragraphs hard to read, so you should rephrase them.

Ask Somebody to Read Your Applicant Essay

No doubt that you should ask other people to read your essay and appraise it. That’s when you may need a professional online essay writer who will help you polish your work. They can provide expert advice on the best way to present your arguments, ensuring that your piece stands out from this intense competition. You may also ask your parents what feelings they have after the reading. Or ask your friends who are already in college what they would change. Maybe, they will point out that some parts of your text are illogical or unclear. It will be a good sign to rewrite it.

Things to Avoid During Your Application Writing

Writing an application essay that will open the college doors is sophisticated and consistent work. But even if you know what to include in your text, what story to narrate, and how to introduce your personality, you also should remember things to avoid in admission writing. 

Here are some of the pitfalls:

  • Making grammar and spelling mistakes.
  • Plagiarizing someone’s story instead of showcasing your personal experience.
  • Not following requirements stipulated by university.
  • Submitting an essay with the wrong school or college name.
  • Not doing research about the institution before submitting your application essay.
  • Submitting a too general essay with no examples from your life.
  • Using cliches and generic statements.
  • Sharing irrelevant information.
  • Excessively boasting accomplishments and sounding arrogant.
  • Not following a logical  essay structure .

Checklist on How to Write a College Essay

Are you ready to start writing an essay for college admission? Already have an idea that will emphasize your solid sides and outline your beliefs and motivation? Then you can use this checklist to ensure you got all the stages of application writing. 

Here is a checklist:

  • checkbox I followed all specific college requirements, including direct questions and word count.
  • checkbox I shared a personal story and delineated my experience relevant to the program.
  • checkbox My application essay has a clear organization with an introduction, body, and coherent conclusion.
  • checkbox  I included specific examples from my life.
  • checkbox In my admission essay, I effectively conveyed deep self-examination and introspection.
  • checkbox My text has a logical flow and proper tone of voice.
  • checkbox I proofread my writing and fixed all grammar and spelling mistakes.

Bottom Line on How to Write a College Admission Essay

What is the difference between a good student and the best one? The best students know how to outline and bring light to their outstanding experience. They also know what future they are looking for and have plans for the next years. Competitive universities try to find the best students for their programs. And this blog guides you on writing a college admission essay that will increase your chances of being accepted. We have gathered the best college essay tips and defines what to include and avoid in your text. Make sure you follow our guidelines and don;t miss any essential details. 

A college essay is a critical part of your application that introduces your voice and opens up your beliefs and goals. Be consistent and confident in your writing – this is a secret to your success.

Trust StudyCrumb to provide you with expert assistance. Buy college essays online from our skillful academic professionals who can craft a high-quality application essay in line with your needs.

FAQ About Writing College Application Essays

1. how to start a college essay.

The best way to start a college essay is to build a hook that will catch readers’ attention. It can be an interesting and relevant story from your life connected with your decision to apply to the program or field of study. It can also be a fun fact or citation that affected your life.

2. Can I start my application essay with a question?

Starting your application essay with a question can engage your readers and draw them into your topic. However, keep in mind your primary purpose: you have to introduce yourself and demonstrate why you're an ideal candidate for the college. While using a question can be an effective rhetorical device, it should still be relevant to the overall theme of your writing.

3. Do all colleges require an application essay?

Almost all colleges and universities require students to submit an essay as a part of the application process. This is the place for sharing personal experiences and attitudes. Some quite competitive colleges will ask you for other supplementary material. They may also include personal statements and motivational letters in an application list.

4. How important are college essays?

In recent years, college essays have gained considerable importance in the application process. Some universities have adopted a "blind review" approach, assessing students based on their application essays without considering factors like school name, grades, or test scores. In these cases, the admissions committee focuses primarily on the student's personality. This makes a college essay a crucial component in showcasing your unique qualities and securing a place at your desired college or university.

5. How to make my college essay stand out?

The best way to make your college essay astounding is to be authentic and original. Let your individual voice shine through and share a personal story that has influenced your mindset and life choices. Embrace who you are, rather than attempting to be the perfect candidate. By showcasing your uniqueness, you'll make a memorable impression on the admissions office among the hundreds of other applicants.

6. What I shouldn't write in an admission essay?

When writing your admissions essay, remember to stay true to yourself and not fabricate stories. Focus on sharing relevant experiences from your life. Avoid reiterating information already mentioned in other parts of the application. Steer clear of clichés and make sure to write about topics that genuinely matter to you.

7. Can I use quotes in a college application essay?

You can include quotes from people or sources in your admissions essay. If a specific quote has had a significant impact on you or was determinant for your life choices, feel free to mention it. However, since this isn't an academic paper, there's no need to adhere to formal citation styles like APA style or Chicago style . Instead, simply incorporate the quote into your text in a natural manner.

8. What person should I write my admission essay in?

Your admissions essay serves as a self- introduction and should be written in the first-person singular. Since you will describe your life events, unique experiences, and values, you shouldnt- be formal like in traditional academic writing. Using the first person is the most suitable choice for emphasizing your personality.


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How to Write a Great College Essay

Don't know How to Write a Great College Essay? Grace College, tells you how to write a college essay. No Essay at this Christian College, Ind.

You’ve researched potential schools , applied for financial aid , and filled out your applications, but the college essay deadline looms over you. Your blank screen may intimidate you, but you’re closer to writing an amazing essay than you think. 

If you’re wondering how to write a great college essay, consult these tips.

1. Choose Your Topic Wisely

Choosing what to write about can feel like half the battle of writing a college essay. 

The essay serves as a picture of who you are to the admissions staff, so the topics you care about deeply work the best. Your passions, convictions, and meaningful experiences are all great places to start.

To generate ideas, imagine someone who knows you well had to describe you to a stranger. What’s crucial to include? What stories would they tell? What hobbies and interests would they mention? To take the exercise a step further, ask a close relative or friend the same questions.

Take a close look at the essay prompts, too. Though you can usually write about whatever topic you’d like, the suggested prompts may help you narrow your focus if you have a general idea in mind.

2. Stand Out

A few common topics saturate the hundreds of essays that admissions staff read every year. Some of these include academic setbacks and successes, sports injuries and victories, experiences of loss, immigration and relocation, and travel.

Though you may have powerful stories that fall under these topics, their universality puts you at a disadvantage. It’s extremely difficult to provide a fresh perspective on subjects that thousands of other students have written about. So if you pick one of these topics, know that you risk blending in with the crowd. Consider giving a unique story or unconventional interest the spotlight.

No matter what subject you choose, write in a way that allows you to stand out. Include the details only you can write, describing them in the way only you would.

3. Develop Your Voice

The college essay calls for mature and skillful writing. Many students, wanting to demonstrate that they know how to write a college essay, use unnecessarily complicated language. This only results in a dense and confusing paper.

You risk sounding ingenuine when you use words and expressions that you never would in real life. Your best writing allows your authentic voice to shine through. The admissions officers care more about whether you’re capable of writing clearly and concisely, not about how many academic, multi-syllabic words you know. 

Have trouble sounding like yourself while writing? Read your writing aloud. You’ll catch unnatural wording and awkward phrasing.

Consider freewriting as well. Freewriting entails writing whatever comes to mind without pausing, erasing or editing your work. To get started, set a timer for 10-20 minutes and write until it goes off. 

After a couple of sessions, you’ll feel more comfortable putting the pen to the page (or fingers to the keyboard!). You’ll also get to practice putting complex feelings and ideas into words, a valuable skill when understanding how to write a great college essay.

4. Highlight Your Growth

Everyone knows that the power of a good story lies in the details. So when writing a college essay, many students focus more on what happened than how they developed as a person through it.

While you want to write descriptively, your essay should emphasize your growth and development more than the external circumstances. Describing what you did on a trip doesn’t illustrate much about you as a person. But exploring how it sparked a passion in you, changed your view about an issue, or challenged you to reexamine your faith makes for a more meaningful essay.

Many students also believe their essay should function as a resume, listing out their strengths and achievements. Your essay may indeed demonstrate a positive quality or achievement of yours. But when you restate details already on your application, you waste the opportunity to venture beyond facts and figures and into who you are as a person. Outlining your noble deeds and impressive accolades won’t resonate with the admissions staff, but sincere, vulnerable writing will. 

If you’re wondering how to write a great college essay, highlight your growth and your passions. Don’t select a story simply because it paints you in a good light.

5. Tell a Good Story

Great college essays use compelling narratives to highlight growth. A good story speaks to us in ways other types of writing cannot.

Most college essays follow a narrative sequence, taking the reader through an event chronologically. Because of its simplicity and clarity, this format lends itself well to college essays. Some essays also follow a topical order, describing multiple scenes that revolve around a common theme.

No matter how you structure your essay, use rich, descriptive writing. Specific, powerful language immerses your reader in your story. You can only achieve this kind of writing by putting time and effort into your college essay. Don’t settle on one draft! Play around with sentence structure. Try out multiple words before choosing one. Your college essay is brief, so make sure every word conveys exactly what you intend it to mean.

Wonder no longer how to write a great college essay. With these tips in mind, you can write with power and meaning, giving admissions staff a clear picture of what makes you, you.

Looking for a college that doesn’t require an essay? Consider Grace College. The Lancer application is free and takes only five minutes to complete.

Explore Grace College Admissions and read this blog about Grace’s admissions process here.

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7 Best Essay Writing Services for American College Students


When looking for a professional essay writing service, it's essential to consider factors like originality, the quality of papers, turnaround times, and refund policies.

7 Best Essay Writing Services for American College Students

For college students, finding a reliable essay writing service can be a challenging task. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to determine which ones provide high-quality papers and trustworthy essay writing help. Even Reddit and Quora threads are riddled with spam and fake reviews, making the task of finding a trustworthy website even more tedious. However, there are several reputable companies that consistently deliver exceptional results.

When looking for a professional essay writing service, it's essential to consider factors like originality, the quality of papers, turnaround times, and refund policies. We scoured thousands of customer reviews and narrowed down the twenty most popular essay writing services to the seven best.

To assess each service's quality, we ordered a similar three-page college-level essay on economics with a 24-hour delivery from each website. We ranked the seven websites based on the results and highlighted their strengths and weaknesses. Here are our findings.

7 Best Paper Writing Services Reviewed

  • PaperHelp : Best Value, Top Choice Overall [9.8/10]
  • BBQPapers : Best Essay Writers, Top Quality [9.8/10]
  • EssayNoDelay : Best for Regular Discounts [9.7/10]
  • ExtraEssay : Best Delivery Speed [9.6/10]
  • EssayPro : Best 24/7 Service [9.6/10]
  • 99Papers : Best Customer Service [9.5/10]
  • SpeedyPaper : Best Reputation, Honorable Mention [9.4/10]

Each of these websites allows you to hire a professional essay writer online. Pick the one that best suits your needs. If you’re not ready to choose, read on to learn more about our experience with the aforementioned websites, and what makes them stand out from the competition.

1. PaperHelp: Best Value

PaperHelp is by far the best paper writing service in terms of value for money. With affordable pricing and a wide range of services, PaperHelp ensures that students receive high-quality papers without breaking the bank and consistently delivers plagiarism-free results.

  • Price: 4.8/5
  • Quality of Writing: 4.9/5
  • Customer Support: 5/5
  • Price paid: $75.00

We received a truly thought-provoking essay from PaperHelp, a sentiment often echoed by other customers praising its depth of research. The incorporation of real-world examples made the essay engaging and relevant. The introduction was captivating, and the transitions between paragraphs were seamless. Minor grammatical errors were present, but the overall content was substantial and insightful.

One of the standout features of PaperHelp is their pool of professional paper writers. These experienced writers are native English speakers and are skilled in various academic fields, ensuring that they can handle any type of paper or assignment. Their expertise ensures that they deliver well-researched and well-written papers that align with the academic standards of colleges and universities in America.

Another notable aspect of PaperHelp is their excellent customer support. Their friendly and knowledgeable support team is available 24/7, ready to assist students with any questions or concerns. This level of support ensures that students can have peace of mind and rely on the service whenever they need assistance.

Additionally, PaperHelp offers a loyalty program for returning customers. Through this program, students can accumulate points with each order and exchange them for discounts on future papers. This not only rewards loyal customers but also makes using PaperHelp even more affordable for students.

PaperHelp is undeniably a legit essay writing service, offering college students high-quality, plagiarism-free papers across various subjects. With reasonable pricing, a team of skilled writers, outstanding customer support, and a loyalty program, PaperHelp is the go-to choice for students seeking high-quality papers at an affordable price.

2. BBQPapers: Best Essay Writers

BBQPapers is one of the best essay writing services that stands out from its competitors due to its rigorous writer selection procedure. BBQPapers ensures that every delivered academic paper is original and polished. They have a team of professional writers who are experienced in their respective fields and deliver high-quality papers that meet the highest academic standards.

  • Price: 4.6/5
  • Quality of Writing: 5/5
  • Price paid: $97.44

The essay we bought from BBQPapers displayed a deep understanding of supply-side economics. The professional essay writer demonstrated the ability to critically analyze and compare various economic models. The inclusion of charts and graphs was a plus, and the paper was free from grammar errors.

One of the key competitive advantages of BBQPapers is their inclusion of an originality report with each essay. This report guarantees that the content is plagiarism-free and Turnitin-proof, giving students peace of mind and ensuring the authenticity of their work.

BBQPapers also offers a great customer loyalty program. They believe in rewarding their clients for their trust and support. Through this program, customers can enjoy various benefits such as discounts on future orders and priority access to their services.

BBQPapers caters to a wide range of academic assignments, including essays, research papers, lab reports, and more. They understand the diverse needs of students and offer affordable prices that suit different budgets. The pricing range is reasonable, taking into consideration the complexity of the assignment, the academic level, and the turnaround time required.

In conclusion, BBQPapers is a renowned paper writer service, popular for its original and polished papers, as well as its exceptional loyalty program. Their commitment to customer satisfaction and the quality of their work make them one of the most legit essay writing services in the industry.

3. EssayNoDelay: Best for Regular Discounts

EssayNoDelay is a leading paper writing service that stands out for its regular discount offers. With EssayNoDelay, students can enjoy high-quality custom essays at affordable prices. Understanding the financial constraints of students, the company frequently offers discounts to increase accessibility to their services.

  • Quality of Writing: 4.8/5
  • Customer Support: 4.7/5

The essay we received from EssayNoDelay offered a unique perspective on economic inequality. The historical context provided was commendable, adding depth to the discussion. However, a few arguments could benefit from more supporting evidence. Nonetheless, it showcased good research skills.

When it comes to the qualifications and experience of writers, EssayNoDelay boasts a team of professional essay writers who are highly qualified in their respective fields. These experienced writers ensure that every order is meticulously crafted to meet the academic requirements and standards. Moreover, if students are not completely satisfied with the delivered paper, they can request revisions.

EssayNoDelay offers a transparent pricing structure, providing students with a clear understanding of the expenses. The prices are reasonable and competitive in the market. While some services may charge extra for features such as plagiarism reports, EssayNoDelay includes them in the initial pricing without any additional fees. This ensures that students receive original papers without any compromise on quality.

In conclusion, EssayNoDelay is a top paper writing service that excels in offering regular discounts, boasting qualified writers, and maintaining transparent pricing. Students can rely on EssayNoDelay for high-quality essays, timely delivery, and excellent customer support.

4. ExtraEssay: Best Delivery Speed

Known for its remarkable delivery speed, ExtraEssay is a leading academic writing service. One of its standout features is the 1-hour delivery option, which allows students to receive their completed essays within a tight deadline. This is particularly valuable for those facing time constraints or dealing with urgent assignments.

  • Customer Support: 4.6/5
  • Price paid: $63.95

The essay we got from ExtraEssay on monetary policy was comprehensive and covered the topic's nuances. The online paper writer employed a mix of qualitative and quantitative data effectively. A suggestion would be to break down some of the more complex ideas further for clarity. However, the overall quality of the paper was great.

ExtraEssay has established a solid reputation for timely delivery. They understand the importance of meeting deadlines and strive to deliver completed papers promptly. Their team of experienced writers is well-equipped to handle various assignments. From essays and research papers to lab reports and complex assignments, ExtraEssay covers a wide range of academic needs.

Customers have praised ExtraEssay for their exceptional delivery speed in numerous positive reviews. Students appreciate that their papers are delivered on time, allowing them to submit their work within the designated time frame. This efficient essay writer service has enabled numerous students to meet tight deadlines without sacrificing paper quality.

Overall, ExtraEssay stands out for its commitment to timely delivery and its ability to provide a wide range of writing services. With their 1-hour delivery option and positive customer reviews, ExtraEssay is a reliable choice for students in need of quick and high-quality essay writing assistance.

5. EssayPro: Best 24/7 Service

EssayPro is the best 24/7 paper writing service, offering a wide range of services to assist students with their academic needs. One standout aspect of EssayPro is their ability to connect students with professional college essay writers from all over the world, ensuring that there are experts available across various time zones around the clock. This means that no matter when you need assistance, EssayPro will be there to provide top notch essay help.

  • Quality of Writing: 4.6/5
  • Price paid: $38.48

The global economic perspective presented by EssayPro was commendable. Their insights into emerging markets and their role in the global economy were both original and well-researched. Including more counter arguments would have strengthened the paper further. We were genuinely surprised by the price; EssayPro charges half the price of most other popular essay writing sites. This positions EssayPro as a truly cheap essay writing service, offering great value for your money.

The ordering process is also incredibly easy with EssayPro. Students can simply submit their requirements and assignment details, and then essay writers will place bids on the project. This bidding platform allows students to choose the writer that best fits their needs, including their budget and deadline requirements.

Furthermore, EssayPro provides its customers with the option for unlimited revisions. This ensures that students will be completely satisfied with the final product, as they can request any necessary changes or adjustments until the paper meets their expectations.

Overall, EssayPro stands out as a reliable and cheap paper writing service due to its ability to connect students with well-versed paper writers from around the globe, its easy ordering process, the unique bidding platform, and the option for unlimited revisions. Whether facing an urgent deadline or seeking assistance at any hour, EssayPro provides high-quality academic support at an affordable price.

6. 99Papers: Best Customer Service

99Papers stands out above the rest of online paper writing services thanks to its commitment to providing the best customer service. With its 24/7 availability, students can access professional assistance anytime they need it. Whether it's a tight deadline or a complex assignment, 99Papers has got you covered.

  • Quality of Writing: 4.7/5
  • Customer Support: 4.8/5
  • Price paid: $78.66

99Papers' exploration of environmental economics was both timely and pertinent. The essay was well-structured, and the use of case studies added credibility to the arguments. Some sentences were overly verbose, but the content was solid.

One of the standout features of 99Papers is its wide range of services. From essays to lab reports, you can find expert writers for all types of academic papers. The service also offers free revisions, ensuring that you are fully satisfied with the final product. This commitment to excellence sets 99Papers apart from its competitors.

When it comes to pricing, 99Papers offers affordable rates starting at just $9.95 per page. For orders over $600, installment payments are available, making it easier for students to manage their budget. This flexible pricing structure makes 99Papers accessible to students from all financial backgrounds.

There are a multitude of benefits to choosing 99Papers as your go-to essay writing company. The essay service offers a discount system, loyalty programs, and a referral program, making it even more affordable for students. With a team of experienced and qualified writers available round the clock, you can expect high-quality papers to be delivered on time.

In conclusion, 99Papers is the best essay writing service with its exceptional customer service. The 24/7 availability, wide range of services, and free revisions make it the top choice for students. With pricing starting at $9.95 per page and various discounts available, 99Papers ensures that every student can afford professional assistance. Trust 99Papers and experience the best customer service for all your academic writing needs.

7. SpeedyPaper: Best Reputation, Honorable Mention

SpeedyPaper has gained a reputation for being one of the best college paper writing services in the market. With an average review score of 4.8 based on thousands of reviews, it is clear that customers are satisfied with the service they receive.

SpeedyPaper  took on the challenge of discussing cryptocurrency's role in modern economics. The essay was well-balanced, weighing the pros and cons of digital currency. The technical jargon was kept to a minimum, making it accessible to readers unfamiliar with the topic.

One of the standout features of SpeedyPaper is its emphasis on direct communication between customers and writers. This allows for a more personalized and efficient writing process, as customers can provide specific instructions and clarify any doubts or questions they may have.

In addition to the top-notch quality of their service, SpeedyPaper also offers affordable pricing options that cater to the needs of college students. They understand the financial constraints that students face and strive to provide services at competitive rates without compromising on quality.

Moreover, SpeedyPaper has an impressive discount section where customers can find various deals and offers to further reduce the cost of their orders. With these discounts, students can benefit from the expertise of professional academic writers while staying within their budget.

Overall, SpeedyPaper has established itself as a reputable and professional paper writing service. Its positive reviews, direct communication with writers, affordable prices, and discount section make it an excellent choice for students seeking high-quality essays and academic papers.

Why You Shouldn’t Trust Essay Writing Service Reviews from Reddit and Quora

When it comes to researching essay writing services, it's natural to turn to online platforms like Reddit and Quora for reviews and insights. However, it's essential to approach these sources with caution, as they may not always provide reliable information.

One of the main reasons why Reddit and Quora reviews may be questionable is the prevalence of fake accounts. Some companies create multiple fake accounts to post positive comments about their services, upvote their content, or downvote negative comments. This practice skews the conversation and provides misleading insights.

Additionally, fake accounts may be used to post fake positive reviews, testimonials, or counteract negative opinions about specific companies. This manipulation of information can make it difficult to determine which essay service reviews are genuine and which are not.

Moreover, accounts can be used to ask staged questions, allowing another account to answer with a link back to the company's website. This tactic is meant to generate traffic and create the illusion of credibility.

While Reddit and Quora can be valuable resources for certain types of information, it's important to approach essay writing service reviews on these platforms with skepticism. Consider cross-referencing multiple sources and look for reputable companies with positive reviews from various platforms.

What Qualities Does the Best Paper Writing Service Have?

The qualities of an ideal custom essay writing service are essential to ensuring a positive and productive experience for students. One of the key qualities is the provision of guarantees. Guarantees demonstrate that a company is reliable and willing to take responsibility for their work. Whether it's a money-back guarantee or a guarantee of unlimited revisions, these assurances give students peace of mind.

Transparent pricing is another crucial quality. The availability of upfront and clear pricing ensures that there are no hidden or unexpected costs. This transparency allows students to budget accordingly and make informed decisions about their academic investments.

A reliable online essay writing service should also have a responsive support team. Instant and effective communication is vital for students to clarify their requirements, provide additional instructions, or address any concerns or issues that may arise during the writing process. A responsive support team not only ensures smooth collaboration but also promotes problem-solving and customer satisfaction.

In summary, an ideal college paper writing service should offer guarantees to demonstrate reliability, transparent pricing to avoid unexpected costs, and a responsive support team for easy communication and problem-solving. These qualities are paramount in ensuring a successful and rewarding experience for college students seeking assistance with their academic assignments.

How to Avoid Scammers

When hiring an online essay writer, it is essential to be cautious in order to avoid scammers. Here are the key steps to protect yourself:

Secure Payment Options: Before making any payment, ensure that the essay writing service offers secure payment options such as PayPal or Stripe. This will prevent your financial information from falling into the wrong hands.

Identifying Fake Reviews:  Don't solely rely on the reviews posted on the company's website. Scammers often fabricate positive reviews to deceive customers. Instead, check independent platforms such as Trustpilot or Sitejabber to read genuine feedback from past clients.

Verify Company Guarantees: Reputable essay writing services provide explicit guarantees on their website. Look for guarantees on plagiarism-free content, timely delivery, and customer satisfaction. These guarantees demonstrate the company's commitment to providing a quality service.

By following these steps, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to scammers when using college paper help. Remember to prioritize secure payment options, double-check reviews on independent platforms, and verify explicit guarantees provided by the company. Doing so will help ensure a positive experience and protect your academic integrity.

How Fast You Can Expect to Have Your Essay Written for You

When faced with a tight deadline for writing a college essay, turning to online experts can be a lifesaver. These professional writers are experienced in various academic levels and can handle assignments of different complexities.

The speed at which online experts can help write a college essay depends on multiple factors. For shorter essays, they may be able to complete the task within a matter of hours. However, it's important to keep in mind that more complex and lengthy papers may require more time.

To ensure the best results, it is advisable to contact the essay writing website beforehand. By discussing the specific requirements of the assignment and the desired timeframe, the service can provide a more accurate estimate of how quickly the essay can be completed.

Thanks to their expertise and proficiency in a wide range of subjects, online experts can deliver high-quality papers even on tight deadlines. Whether it's a literature review, research paper, or persuasive essay, these writers can produce well-written and well-researched content that meets the requirements of your academic level.

In conclusion, online experts can help write a college essay quickly and efficiently. By considering factors such as academic level, complexity of the assignment, and the specific topic, these professionals can deliver top-notch essays within the desired timeframe.

How Essay Writing Websites Hire Their Experts

When it comes to hiring experts, reputable companies follow a thorough process to ensure the best writers are selected.

Firstly, these companies analyze their clients' needs and requirements to determine the specific expertise required for each assignment. This allows them to find suitable writers who can deliver high-quality papers within the given timeframe.

Once potential candidates are identified, writing tests are conducted to assess their skills and capabilities. These tests are designed to evaluate their proficiency in formatting, grammar, research, and academic writing. Only those who score well on these tests move on to the next stage.

In addition to writing tests, reputable companies often require candidates to complete test orders. These test orders allow the writers to showcase their ability to effectively follow instructions, adhere to style guidelines, and deliver a well-written paper.

To ensure consistent quality, reputable companies also implement systems to monitor writer performance. They may review completed orders regularly and provide feedback to help writers improve. Some companies may even introduce motivational systems, such as bonuses or incentives, to encourage writers to consistently deliver high-quality work.

By following this rigorous process, college paper writing services are able to hire experts who possess the necessary knowledge and skills to meet the academic writing needs of their clients. This ensures that students receive well-researched and professionally written papers that meet their requirements.

What are essay writing services?

Essay writing services are online platforms that connect students with professional writers who assist them in completing their academic assignments. Some websites also offer problem solving, editing and proofreading services.

What guidelines do I need to provide for my essay?

When placing an order, it is crucial to provide detailed instructions, including the topic, word count, formatting style, deadline, and any specific requirements or sources to be used. This way, you will save time on revisions in case the first draft won’t match your expectations.

Can I make changes to the final version of my essay?

When placing an order, it is crucial to provide detailed instructions, including the topic, word count, formatting style, deadline, and any specific requirements or sources to be used. This way, you will save time on revisions in case the first draft doesn't match your expectations.

Are the essays provided by these services original?

Yes, legitimate essay writing services guarantee originality. Their experienced writers create content from scratch, and the final papers are typically checked for plagiarism using advanced software. ChatGPT or AI content generators are never used, so the papers are Turnitin-safe and free from plagiarism.

How do I choose the right writer for my assignment?

Many essay writing services allow you to choose a writer based on their qualifications, expertise, and previous customer reviews. This ensures that you can select someone who is best suited to meet your specific needs.

Which formatting styles can the writers accommodate?

Professional essay writers are well-versed in various formatting styles, including APA, MLA, Chicago, and Harvard. Simply specify your desired style when placing the order.

Can I add extra details or instructions after placing the order?

Yes, most essay writing services provide a messaging system that allows direct communication between customers and writers. You can use this feature to add any additional details or instructions.

Do essay writing websites offer any free features?

Many reputable services offer free features such as title pages, plagiarism reports, and reference pages. Some may also include bibliographies and formatting according to your specified style.

How are the completed papers delivered to customers?

The completed papers are usually delivered via email or through a secure customer portal on the essay writing service's website. It is important to ensure that the delivery method is safe and confidential.

Can I request an originality report for my essay?

Yes, all essay writing services offer originality reports or plagiarism reports as proof of the originality of the submitted papers. Some websites offer this for free, while others charge somewhere between $5 and $10 for it.

An originality report isn't necessarily required, as all papers are expected to be free from plagiarism by default. Selling an originality report is a way for companies to make extra money.

Can I expect a writer to write my paper urgently?

Yes, many services offer expedited writing options for those facing tight deadlines. Most websites deliver papers in 1, 3, 6, 12 and 24 hours, depending on your order complexity and length. It is always advisable to place your order in advance to allow sufficient time for thorough research and high-quality writing.

What payment methods are accepted by essay writing websites?

The accepted payment methods may vary, but most services accept credit cards, PayPal, and other secure online payment options. It is important to ensure that the payment process is secure and reliable.

Will I be able to get a refund?

Refund policies may vary among service providers. While some companies offer full refunds, some others offer partial ones to cover the writers’ time. It is important to review the refund policy before placing an order to understand the circumstances under which a refund can be requested.

Is my personal information kept confidential when using essay writing services?

Absolutely. Reputable websites have strict privacy policies in place to protect customers' personal information. Your confidentiality and anonymity are ensured, so you don’t have to worry about it.

Do essay writing companies have social media platforms?

Yes, many companies maintain active social media platforms where they share updates, engage with customers, and provide additional information about their services.

In conclusion, essay writing services provide valuable assistance to students seeking help with their academic assignments. By choosing a reputable service, students can ensure the high-quality and originality of their papers while respecting their deadlines and privacy.

Disclaimer: This article is a paid publication and does not have journalistic/editorial involvement of Hindustan Times. Hindustan Times does not endorse/subscribe to the content(s) of the article/advertisement and/or view(s) expressed herein. Hindustan Times shall not in any manner, be responsible and/or liable in any manner whatsoever for all that is stated in the article and/or also with regard to the view(s), opinion(s), announcement(s), declaration(s), affirmation(s) etc., stated/featured in the same.

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what to consider when writing a college essay

My Davidson | A Student Blog Student-to-Student: Advice from Davidson College Students on the College Essay

student wearing a Davidson sweatshirt and headphones works on a laptop in a modern academic building

Current Davidson College students share their tips and tricks for navigating and writing the college essay.

About the Authors

This piece was written by Senior Fellows in Davidson College's Office of Admission & Financial Aid; Zaynab Abuhakema ’24, Nathanael Bagonza ’24, Chloe Boissy Stauffer ’24, Kelsey Chase ’24, Amanda Fuenzalida ’24, Olivia Howard ’24 (she/her), Ann Nishida ’24, Lilly Sirover ’24, Samuel Waithira ’24 and Ruby Zhou ’24. 

Learn more about them below.

Zayna Abuhakema

Zaynab Abuhakema ’24 (she/her) is a physics major and theatre minor from Summerville, South Carolina.

“Just be honest! We want to know more about YOU and why you can see yourself at Davidson. Tell us about your passions in the way that makes the most sense to you. Have someone read over it if you want, but don’t worry too much about the technical part. Just show us who you are the best way you can on a page.”

Nate Bagonza

Nathanael Bagonza ’24 (he/him) is an English major from Haverhill, Massachusetts.

“Don’t worry about if your writing is ‘great’ or not; rather, be intentional in ensuring that your essays demonstrate who you are and what you are passionate about! I ended up becoming an English major writing a collection of essays for my senior honors thesis, but what made my application essays work from day one was telling stories that really spoke to my true, authentic self.”

Chloe Boissy-Stauffer

Chloe Boissy Stauffer ’24 (she/her) is an environmental studies and political science double major from Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

“A couple pages of writing will never capture your whole story- admissions counselors understand this. In order to communicate an accurate snapshot of who you are, try thinking of one hobby, one accomplishment, or one interaction that you think best reflects your overall skill set and worldview. By using one or two examples to ‘anchor’ your story, you can frame your personality, backstory and values. Whatever you write, make sure it’s authentic to who you are because that’s who we want to get to know.”

Kelsey Chase

Kelsey Chase ’24 (she/her) is a political science major from Concord, New Hampshire.

“I read a lot of Common App essays during my college process, not because I wanted to study them or compare them to my own, but because I genuinely thought they were fascinating to read. This helped me realize that it’s helpful to think about writing the essays for a peer rather than an admissions officer. Don’t worry about what you think the admissions officers want to hear; rather, write an essay that you think would help potential friends understand you at your core. I would also advise against your parents or adults taking too much editorial control over your essay — you want your essay to sound like you, which is someone who’s 17 or 18 years old, not a professional. It can definitely be helpful to have someone read over it just to catch grammar mistakes or awkward phrasing, but what matters most is that you feel like it really conveys something important about who you are.”

Amanda Fuenzalida

Amanda Fuenzalida ’24 (she/her) is a biology major from Naples, Florida and Santiago, Chile.

“When I think about the personal essay, I always think about growth, because that is what life is, a continuous growing process. And at 17–18 years, you do not have to have everything figured out or have decided what you want to for the rest of your life. But what you can do well is reflect on the experiences that have made you the person you are at this very moment. And thinking about this personal statement, I would think maybe what are key major parts of my life that have shaped me to be who I am, that make you proud of yourself. Reading back your essay, you should feel that sense of pride, that this essay reflects the person you (not anyone else) are proud you have become.”

Olivia Howard

Olivia Howard ’24 (she/her) is a biology and German Studies double major from Dacula, Georgia.

“I do not consider writing to be my strong suit, and I remember the dread and fear I had when I was writing my college essays. Essays are intimidating, and you might feel lost trying to fit your story into the limits that are set. My advice to you is to be patient with yourself and allow who you are to come through on the page. Do not over stress about having the most complex grammar and sentence structure, but rather focus on writing what matters to you. It is okay to not be an award-winning writer who uses metaphors and various literary devices. A lot of times it is better to tell your story in a simple way rather than using flowery language and fluff that does not get your point across.”

Ann Nishida

Ann Nishida ’24 (she/her) is a biology major and music minor from Ridgewood, New Jersey.

“The focus is on you . The essay portion is a chance for the admission counselors to see a side of you that a transcript or test score won’t fully represent. A good starting point in discovering your unique qualities may be to ask yourself Why ? Why am I passionate about certain activities, why do I interact with my environment in a certain way, why do I want to go to Davidson, etc. Good luck!”

Lilly Sirover

Lilly Sirover ’24 (she/her) is a biology major and public health minor on the premedicine track from Haddonfield, New Jersey.

“As someone who prefers speaking over writing, I highly recommend using a voice recording app to talk through your essay ideas as you begin the writing process. Talking through your unique strengths, challenges you have navigated, a personal experience that changed your perspective, a topic that you are endlessly curious about, or something else personal to you allows your story to develop naturally.”

Sam Waithira

Samuel Waithira ’24 (he/him) is an economics major and applied mathematics minor from Nairobi, Kenya.

“Be genuine with every aspect of your application. Do not try to mold your application into what you believe the college wants. When you present your true self, you build trust with the admissions team, showing that you have confidence in who you are. Remember that each applicant is unique, and colleges are often looking for a diverse student body. By being genuine, you can showcase your individuality and the qualities that set you apart from other applicants.”

Ruby Zhou

Ruby Zhou ’24 (she/her) is an English major on the predental track from Houston, Texas.

“Start writing. I have a tendency to procrastinate whenever I have a daunting task looming over me, and I just need to start writing or I’ll never get it done. The writing might sound horrible and you might feel embarrassed, but if you think about it, the earlier you start, the more time you have to change “bad” writing to something beautiful.”

Looking for More Student Stories?

Check out more student-written blog posts like this one at My Davidson, Davidson College's blog for students, by students.

  • My Davidson

Considering Applying to Davidson College?

Learn more about dates and deadlines, ways to apply, the holistic admission review and more.

Applying to Davidson

  • November 2, 2023
  • Main content

Yes, ChatGPT can help with your college admissions essay. Here's what you need to do to stay within the rules.

  • Students who use tools like ChatGPT to write their college essays need to walk a fine line.
  • Colleges will likely penalize students who submit completely AI-generated applications.
  • Using AI to edit or draft the essays may be acceptable though, a tutoring company founder says.

Insider Today

The education sector has had a rough ride with generative AI.

After the release of ChatGPT, some colleges and schools were quick to put a blanket ban on the bot when students began using it to write their essays. Professors and teachers were left with the difficult task of navigating the new concept of AI plagiarism.

Now, several colleges have changed their tune and are encouraging students and staff to use generative AI as a tool — as long as they don't use it to cheat. However, the guidance is still pretty vague, especially when it comes to admissions and college essays.

"The landscape is shifting, but colleges are not unified in their approach to GPT," Adam Nguyen, founder of tutoring company Ivy Link , told Insider. "If you look across the landscape of college admissions, especially elite college admissions, there are no clear rules on whether you could use GPT or not."

In February, I tested the chatbot's ability to write college application essays . The results were relatively successful , with two private admissions tutors agreeing the essays definitely passed for ones written by a real student and probably would have had a shot at most colleges, but probably not the most selective institutions.

There are telltale signs when an entire essay is AI-generated, Nguyen said. For example, there tends to be a lot of repetition, and the essays are generally mediocre.

"If an essay is clearly written by AI, I think they will penalize the student and that application," Nguyen said.

While it's clear students should be writing their own work, it's less clear if students are allowed to use the tech to help them draft or edit essays.

As colleges grudgingly accept that AI is not going anyway, Nguyen said there's a fine line for students to walk.

"If you fill in the details, restructure the essay, and provide the specific language and sentences, that will make the essay your own," he said. "I think many colleges would be fine with that."

He continued, "I would suggest not using it as a default. If you're really stuck, you could use it to start." He suggested that, as a general rule, at least 80% of the essays needed to be edited and changed to be on the safe side.

"If an essay's really good, it won't raise any suspicion, and I don't think most colleges will care that you use GPT to start, as long as they can't tell either," he added.

what to consider when writing a college essay

Watch: What is ChatGPT, and should we be afraid of AI chatbots?

what to consider when writing a college essay

Z News Service

Z News Service

The 5 Best Paper Writing Services for College Students in 2023

Posted: November 8, 2023 | Last updated: November 8, 2023

In the throes of college education, students frequently confront the formidable challenge of producing papers that showcase depth, insight, and scholarly research. The relentless tick of the clock towards looming deadlines compounds the anxiety, often resulting in a maelstrom of stress and work overload. For many, the hurdle isn't just about crafting a coherent piece but also imbuing it with a quality that reflects academic rigor and intellectual honesty.

It is within this context that paper writing services have risen as an essential ally for students. A reputable service offers more than just a written document; it is an avenue for learning and refining one's writing aptitude. Through custom written papers tailored to specific academic requirements, these services provide a dual benefit: they not only help students navigate through the immediate academic pressures but also equip them with insights into structuring and formulating ideas effectively.

This article aims to dissect the offerings of the top 5 paper writing services of 2023, examining each through the lens of quality, reliability, features, and pricing. The goal is straightforward: to assist students in making an educated decision that aligns with their academic pursuits and ethical boundaries, ensuring they select the service that best caters to their individual needs.

Reviews of Top 5 Paper Writing Services

  • Background and Overview: 99Papers is known for its wide-ranging services catering to college students. It has built a reputation over the years for its personalized approach to academic writing.
  • Quality : The platform is recognized for its rigorous writer selection process, ensuring that each writer is well-qualified in their respective fields. It also offers quality guarantees, including revisions and, in some cases, refunds.
  • Reliability: Reviews often highlight 99Papers' ability to consistently meet deadlines, with a customer service team that is prompt in addressing any issues or special requests from clients.
  • Key Features : The service covers a variety of disciplines and offers a broad spectrum of assignments, from essays to dissertations. Extras like editing, proofreading, and plagiarism checks are also available.
  • Pricing : Prices are competitive, with various discounts and promotional offers, especially for repeat customers or bulk orders. Pricing structures for common paper types are transparently presented on their website.
  • Background and Overview : EssayBox positions itself as an affordable and speedy option for students, specializing in a quick turnaround for urgent academic writing tasks.
  • Quality: While EssayBox offers a large pool of writers, there are mixed reviews regarding quality consistency. They provide limited quality assurances compared to some of their competitors.
  • Reliability : Their strong suit is meeting tight deadlines, which makes them a go-to for students under time constraints.
  • Key Features: They have a wide range of disciplines and assignment types they cater to. However, some additional services may come at an extra cost.
  • Pricing : They promote affordability with their pricing, and often run promotions and discounts, which can be particularly beneficial for students on a tight budget.

2. BookwormLab

  • Background and Overview: BookwormLab has carved out a niche for itself by focusing on humanities and social sciences, attracting students who require more specialized assistance in these areas.
  • Quality : Quality is one of their hallmarks, with a focus on delivering well-researched and thoughtfully written papers. They provide a selection of writers that have expertise in the humanities and social sciences.
  • Reliability : They have a track record of reliability, though their specialized nature means they might be less suited to handle extremely tight deadlines compared to broader services.
  • Key Features : Apart from standard writing services, they also provide assistance with more complex assignments that require in-depth analysis and extensive research.
  • Pricing : Their pricing reflects the specialized service they offer, tending towards the higher end. They do offer various pricing plans and occasional discounts.

3. EssayFactory

  • Background and Overview : Based in the UK, EssayFactory serves an international clientele with a promise of ENL (English Native Language) writers and custom writing services.
  • Quality : They tout a premium service with writers who are purportedly certified and highly experienced, backed by quality guarantees.
  • Reliability : Their reliability is well-regarded, with positive feedback about their adherence to deadlines and effective communication channels for customer support.
  • Key Features : They offer comprehensive writing services, including proofreading, editing, and plagiarism checking, with a focus on high academic standards.
  • Pricing : Their services are on the higher end of the pricing spectrum, but they offer a structured discount system that rewards long-term customers.

4. Essays.io

  • Background and Overview : Essays.io markets itself as an all-encompassing paper writing service with a broad array of paper types available for order.
  • Quality : This service offers competitive pricing but has received mixed reviews on quality, indicating potential variability in writer expertise.
  • Reliability : The service promises on-time delivery, though there have been reports of issues with meeting deadlines and responsiveness to custom requests.
  • Key Features : They cover a wide range of subjects and provide a comprehensive list of services, including writing, editing, and proofreading.
  • Pricing : Essays.io is known for below-average pricing, aiming to attract students who are budget-conscious. They also offer occasional promotions and discounts.

Services to cover

99Papers has cemented its status in the realm of academic assistance through its commitment to high-quality and reliable service. It stands out in the crowded marketplace with a roster of proficient writers, a factor that has contributed to its strong reputation among college students. With a focus on delivering custom written papers that resonate with academic integrity, it has managed to strike a balance between affordability and excellence. The pricing model is tailored to be reasonable, ensuring that students are not financially overstretched. Furthermore, 99Papers incentivizes its users with discounts, which could be particularly attractive to students who need recurring help. Testimonials frequently applaud the platform for not only meeting but often exceeding expectations, solidifying its standing as a trustworthy partner in education.

EssayBox is tailored for students who are running against the clock, prioritizing affordability and expediency. With a vast pool of writers, the service aims to match student orders with suitable writing talent swiftly, ensuring that even the most pressing deadlines are met with precision. The service prides itself on being a solution for last-minute paper needs without breaking the bank. However, it is worth noting that some users have reported limitations regarding the quality guarantees. This points to a potential trade-off between speed and meticulousness. Nonetheless, for students whose primary concern is a fast-approaching deadline, EssayBox presents a viable option that promises to deliver timely results within a student-friendly budget.


BookwormLab presents itself as a connoisseur of humanities and social sciences, offering an array of services specifically designed for these disciplines. The service is recognized for its above-average pricing, which is justified by the high-quality papers it delivers. With an understanding that humanities and social science papers require a depth of thought and a nuanced approach, BookwormLab ensures that its writers are equipped with the necessary expertise to handle such complexities. The company's dedication to excellence in these specific areas has earned it accolades from students who seek out expertly crafted arguments and analyses. For those who prioritize the quality of content and are willing to invest a bit more financially, BookwormLab stands as a premium service provider.


Operating from the UK, EssayFactory serves an international customer base with its team of certified English Native Language (ENL) writers. This service aligns itself with higher educational standards and targets students who are willing to pay a premium for a certain caliber of writing. The service justifies its higher pricing with the promise of impeccable language, in-depth research, and adherence to the rigorous demands of academic writing. Despite the cost, the company makes an effort to be accessible through various discount schemes, particularly for repeat customers, making it a more attractive option for ongoing academic support. EssayFactory's focus on maintaining a high standard has resonated well with students who require assistance that aligns closely with native English standards.

Essays.io offers an expansive catalog of paper types to cater to a diverse student population. With its below-average pricing strategy, it aims to attract a broader audience, including those constrained by tight budgets. This competitive pricing is one of the key reasons for its popularity, especially among those who need regular writing assistance. However, this affordability has been accompanied by reports of inconsistent quality. While many students find the service satisfactory, others caution potential users to set realistic expectations regarding the outcome. Essays.io could be a fit for those willing to navigate the variability in quality for the sake of cost-effectiveness, especially when dealing with less critical or less complex writing tasks.

Overview of Paper Writing Services

Paper writing services are third-party providers that offer academic writing assistance to students and professionals alike. These services have become a considerable part of the educational support system, aiming to ease the burden of those overwhelmed by their workload. They operate by allowing customers to commission essays, research papers, theses, and other written assignments by connecting them with professional writers who specialize in various academic disciplines.

Here’s how they typically work: A student submits a request for a paper, including details such as the topic, length, style, and deadline. The service then matches the request with a writer who has the appropriate expertise. The writer completes the assignment, and it is then delivered to the student, often after going through a quality check to ensure it meets the required standards.

  • Time-Saving : One of the significant advantages is time-saving. Students juggling multiple deadlines can outsource their writing tasks to focus on other academic or personal commitments.
  • Expert Writers : These services boast a roster of writers who are often experts in their fields, providing a level of insight and proficiency that students may not possess.
  • Improved Grades : For some students, especially those who struggle with writing, these services can contribute to better grades, helping them to meet the academic standards required by their courses.

Statistical data shows a rising trend in the use of these services, often correlating with periods of intense academic pressure, like finals or midterm seasons. While exact figures vary, surveys have indicated that a substantial percentage of students admit to using these services at least once during their academic career, reflecting both the growing demand and the normalization of these services in student communities.

When comparing these services, the criteria of quality, reliability, features, and pricing are paramount:

  • Quality encompasses the expertise of writers, the originality and depth of the work, and customer satisfaction.
  • Reliability refers to meeting deadlines, the consistency of the quality, and the service's ability to handle revisions or problems.
  • Features include the range of services offered, such as writing, editing, formatting, and the variety of subjects covered.
  • Pricing evaluates whether the cost is reasonable, transparent, and provides value for money, considering the student budget constraints.

Students contemplating the use of these services must weigh these factors against their needs and ethical considerations to make an informed decision.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Paper Writing Service

Choosing the right paper writing service requires a careful assessment of various critical factors to ensure that the service aligns with academic needs and ethical standards.

  • Type of Paper Needed : Services often specialize in certain academic fields or types of assignments. It's essential to select a service that has a proven track record with the specific type of paper you need, whether it's a complex research paper, a creative essay, or a technical report.
  • Your Budget : Financial considerations are paramount. Compare pricing structures of different services and be mindful of the cost-effectiveness of each option. It's not just about finding the cheapest service but getting the best value for your investment without compromising on quality.
  • Quality Assurances : Reliable services provide clear guarantees about the quality of their work. Investigate each service’s writer selection process, their qualifications, and the mechanisms they have in place to ensure high-quality output. Guarantees such as free revisions or refunds can also be indicative of a service's commitment to quality.
  • Reputation : Research the service's reputation through reviews and complaints. A consistent track record of positive reviews can be a good indicator of reliability, while a history of complaints might be a red flag.
  • Features : Look for additional features that add value, such as editing, proofreading, and plagiarism checks. These features can enhance the quality of your paper and ensure it meets academic standards.
  • Ethics : Ensure the service is committed to producing original work and has a strict policy against plagiarism. The ethical implications of using such a service are significant, and the work provided should always be used in a way that upholds academic integrity.
  • Customer Support : Effective customer support is crucial. The service should offer responsive and accessible support, available 24/7 to address any issues or concerns that might arise during the process.

Taking these factors into account will help you choose a paper writing service that is not only professional and reliable but also respects the ethical boundaries of educational assistance.

FAQ about Paper Writing Services

Are there any legit paper writing services.

Yes, there are legitimate paper writing services that operate within the bounds of the law and provide services intended to assist students with their academic work. To find reputable companies, it’s crucial to conduct thorough research, checking their policies on plagiarism, privacy, and quality. Reading reviews and testimonials, and asking for recommendations from peers can also guide you to legitimate services.

Are paper writing services worth it?

Paper writing services can be worth it for students who need assistance in meeting deadlines or aiming to improve their grades, particularly if they are struggling with specific aspects of writing or facing personal challenges that impede their ability to complete assignments. However, it is essential for students to use these services as a form of assistance and not as a means to bypass the learning process.

How do I find the best paper writing service?

To find the best paper writing service, compare potential services based on crucial factors such as the quality of work they produce, their reliability in meeting deadlines, the range of features they offer, their pricing structures, and their reputation within the market. Also, consider the qualifications and selection process of their writers, as well as the level of customer support they provide.

What are the cons of essay writing services?

The potential cons of essay writing services include the risk of receiving plagiarized work, which can have serious academic repercussions. High costs can also be prohibitive for some students, making these services less accessible. Ethical issues are another concern, as submitting work that isn’t your own can violate academic integrity policies and undermine personal development. Additionally, dependency on such services can impede the acquisition of essential writing and research skills.

How can I ensure the paper writing service is ethical?

To ensure a paper writing service is ethical, look for ones that provide papers for research, reference, and learning purposes only. Check their commitment to producing original content and providing plagiarism reports. Ensure that the service emphasizes the importance of using their work as a guide or a reference, rather than submitting it as your own original work.

In choosing a paper writing service, students should prioritize services that combine high-quality writing, reliability in meeting deadlines, comprehensive features, and fair, transparent pricing. While these services can be a valuable resource for managing heavy workloads and improving grades, it's important to use them ethically and responsibly. By considering the factors highlighted in this article—such as the type of paper needed, budget constraints, quality assurances, and reputation—students can make informed decisions that support their academic success without compromising their integrity. With careful selection and judicious use, paper writing services can be a strategic tool in a student's educational arsenal.

Paper Writing Services

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Meaning of Disadvantaged Med School Applicant

For those who may consider themselves disadvantaged, here's what an important AMCAS change means.

Disadvantaged Medical School Applicants

University students listening to the lectures in the lecture hall, enjoying the classes and teamwork. Group of young people are soon to be academic citizens.

The AMCAS statement is vague to many applicants, and you must really consider your circumstances to determine if you should apply disadvantaged to your situation. (Getty Images)

There are so many steps in applying to medical school , and the AMCAS application is one of the first and most significant.

In addition to a personal statement and extracurricular activities, AMCAS, or the American Medical College Application Service , asks various biographical and demographic questions. Prior to the 2023-2024 application cycle, AMCAS included a question regarding if an applicant identified as disadvantaged, which was an opportunity for the applicant to include details about life circumstances that could affect their application.

However, AMCAS recently removed that question and replaced it with an optional section for the applicant to include "other impactful experiences." With this new terminology, the Association of American Medical Colleges, which provides the AMCAS service, hoped to remove any potential negative connotations with the term "disadvantaged" and to provide additional clarity on how to answer the prompt.

What Are the Specifics of Other Impactful Experiences?

Here's the specific prompt included on the AMCAS application: "Have you overcome challenges or obstacles in your life that you would like to describe in more detail? This could include lived experiences related to your family background, financial background, community setting, educational experiences, and/or other life circumstances."

To remove some of the ambiguity that was associated with disadvantaged, AMCAS offers additional guidance, including some examples that can be shared about experiences that directly affected the applicant's life opportunities:

  • Family background, such as being a first-generation college student or serving as a caregiver to a family member.
  • Community setting, such as living in a rural area or experiencing food scarcity, high poverty or crime rate, or lack of access to regular health care.
  • Financial background, such as being from a low-income family, having worked to support your family, needing work-study to pay for college or having depended on federal or state financial support.
  • Educational experience, such as limited access to advisers or counselors who were knowledgeable about higher education requirements.

Other general life circumstances that were beyond your control and presented barriers.

The instructions ask applicants to consider whether the question is relevant to them and notes that med schools don't expect all applicants to answer “yes.” The question is intended for applicants "who have overcome major challenges or obstacles," and it acknowledges that "some applicants may not feel comfortable sharing personal information in their application." Applicants who decide to answer the question are allotted 1,325 characters to explain the situation to medical schools.

How Do Medical Schools Use This Information to Evaluate an Application?

Though every medical school evaluates applicants differently, admissions committees use this additional information to contextualize an application.

For instance, perhaps an applicant who lived in a medically underserved area has fewer clinical activities than competing applicants. Admission committees tend to take that into account when reviewing the application. They realize that with fewer available opportunities, one applicant’s extracurricular activities may look different than those of similar applicants.

Including other impactful experiences in no way unlocks a secret door into medical school, but it can help the admission committee evaluate an applicant’s total application – including hardships or special circumstances they may have faced.

Should an Applicant Answer This Question?

Whether a med school applicant should include details here totally depends. They should be introspective and think about how their circumstances may have affected their education, social interactions, extracurricular activities and finances.

Often, if an applicant can’t readily identify a situation that they consider applicable here, then it is probably best not to add information. But for applicants with extenuating circumstances and hardships, providing this additional context allows them to explain the circumstances to medical schools and hope that admissions committees will take the information into account when reviewing the entire application .

What Should Be Written in the Allotted Space?

The applicant should use the space to discuss why they consider themselves disadvantaged and significant challenges they overcame .

It is important to not try to garner pity from the admissions committee. Instead, contextualize the circumstances and application. Avoid repeating the personal statement or theorizing about how things may have been different if an event had not occurred. The statement should help readers understand what the applicant has gone through and how it has affected their life and preparation for medical school.

As difficult as it can be to make the decision about whether to select disadvantaged, a draft of the statement is difficult to write, as well. If an applicant is unsure how to go about putting the situation on paper, work with an adviser to fully articulate the specific circumstances.

Opportunities for Students With Challenges in Their Application

An additional challenge for some students is they often cannot afford the same level of tutoring, advising and coaching as advantaged students. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, only about 22,500 students matriculated in medical school in 2022 from more than 55,000 applicants – only about four in 10 getting accepted. For students with financial or social challenges, their odds can be even lower due to their lack of resources and support systems.

Students who get one-on-one coaching can boost their exam scores and the application presentation, which is likely to substantially increase their odds of acceptance. For example, MedSchoolCoach offers a PreMed Scholarship for bright and deserving students who can benefit from medical school tutoring and advising, but for whom cost is prohibitive.

For disadvantaged students fortunate enough to get accepted but who may need help paying for medical school, organizations like online resource Fastweb provide students with connections to scholarships and financial aid.

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About Medical School Admissions Doctor

Need a guide through the murky medical school admissions process? Medical School Admissions Doctor offers a roundup of expert and student voices in the field to guide prospective students in their pursuit of a medical education. The blog is currently authored by Dr. Ali Loftizadeh, Dr. Azadeh Salek and Zach Grimmett at Admissions Helpers , a provider of medical school application services; Dr. Renee Marinelli at MedSchoolCoach , a premed and med school admissions consultancy; Dr. Rachel Rizal, co-founder and CEO of the Cracking Med School Admissions consultancy; Dr. Cassie Kosarec at Varsity Tutors , an advertiser with U.S. News & World Report; Dr. Kathleen Franco, a med school emeritus professor and psychiatrist; and Liana Meffert, a fourth-year medical student at the University of Iowa's Carver College of Medicine and a writer for Admissions Helpers. Got a question? Email [email protected] .

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How to Make Your Admission Essay Memorable

  • Post author By Ahmed Mohamed
  • Post date November 2, 2023

what to consider when writing a college essay

Most learning institutions analyze high school grades, ACT and SAT scores, and extracurricular activities when assessing student’s admission credentials. However, recent admission committees are adopting the ‘test-blind’ to add more weight to the application process.

What does this mean for applicants? It means you must dig deeper into your writing skills to bring out an authentic and well-thought-out essay.  

The admission committee sorts through thousands of applications. Hence, standing out from the rest and leaving an impression takes effort. There’s much more to reveal to the admission committee than your test scores.

This post underlines the importance of crafting a stellar admission essay that evokes emotions for your audience.

What Is Important?

what to consider when writing a college essay

Part of your college application process involves delivering an essay that describes your persona. It is an opportunity for any applicant to showcase a different side to themselves far from their GPAs and test scores.

It gives the admission committee a glimpse into the applicant’s aspirations, objectives, and goals. An applicant must showcase their fortitude towards undertaking the applied course for study.

The content depends on the question posed by the admission committee. Most prompts involve divulging information about one’s past experiences. What drives you? What do you hope to achieve? Why choose this specific school?

These are some important questions an applicant must answer to the admission committee. Also, the admission committee likes it when applicants actively participate in the community. Remember to mention your work at the children’s home or community shelter for bonus points.

Professional Strategies to Employ

The high level of competition for application spots at the institution makes the writing process nervy. Here are professional tips from experts to carve a name for yourself with the admission committee:

1. Authenticity

Generic responses often bore the admission committee. They need something new and exciting that reflects their true self. Inauthenticity could be using overly flowery language with fluff that irritates your audience.

Choose an interesting subject about your life and naturally bring out experiences and how they shaped your current self. Ensure to highlight pan points that showcase your strengths and be vulnerable to note your weaknesses.

2. Attention-Grabbing Statements

The admission committee is probably accustomed to reading similar essays from other applicants. Take time to grab their attention within the first few sentences. Start with a bold statement or a quote that invokes curiosity.

Start with a clear and precise thesis statement that guides the rest of the essay. For storytelling purposes, start with an intro that naturally flows with the main agenda behind the writing.

Stay calm while trying to grab the attention. Could you keep it simple but unique? A good and solid introductory part will entice the reader to finish the rest of the document.

3. Be Unique

Imagine a thousand applicants thinking similarly about how to approach this essay. It means a thousand applications with similarities. It means your chances of acceptance get lower than expected.

Rather, try a unique approach to answering prompts. Adopt a new perspective on how to view the assignment on hand. Most applicants will choose to glorify their past life experiences and how they molded them. What about speaking about your losses and how they changed you?

The element of surprise is a rare talent most writers don’t possess. You can buy research papers online to find unique ways top writers like J.K Rowling, Leo Tolstoy, and Neil Gaiman brought out the element of surprise when reading a piece.

4. Avoid Common Themes and Topics

Over the years, most applicants have eaten into similar topics to get into the good books of the admission committee. Some exhausted topics and themes overly used include sports, immigration, obstacles/success, and volunteer stories.

It’s about more than avoiding these themes while writing completely. Moreover, it’s about avoiding the same trajectory used in these themes to drive home the message.

For example, facing life challenges such as poverty at a young age and growing up intending to change the scenario seems a sad topic. However, it’s a rerun strategy most applicants employ many times.  

5. Keep the Reader in Mind

Often, we get so engrossed with our writing that we need to remember our intended audience. Picture an admission board seated on a panel sorting through thousands of applications with tight deadlines. Picture the pressure they face turning down prospective applicants based on their writing.

It gives you an in-depth look at the intense vetting process the board goes through. Hence, make it easy for the board by ticking all the expected boxes within the application. Answer the prompt correctly, and edit for any grammatical or spelling errors.

Literary Devices to Add to Your Document

One new technique to freshen up your document is the addition of literary devices. Literary devices attract your readers and catch their attention. Here are some popular literary devices to include in your essay:

1. Symbolism

Symbolism is the usage of abstract concepts or objects to represent ideas. Adopt symbolism in your essay to represent the essay’s main theme. These symbols help in conveying your main message to your readers.

2. Flashback

Flashbacks are essential in transporting your reader from the present mode to past events. It helps the admission committee better understand yourself and your current personality. It helps them gauge your personal goals, motives, and objectives.

3. Dialogue

Incorporating dialogue into your essay creates a sense of suspense while transporting your main message within the essay. Adopt the technique strategically and avoid coming off redundant. Make it precise and ensure it fits the context within the application process.

Quotes are essential to catch your readers’ attention, especially during the introductory sentences. Use famous quotes from important people in your life. It can be idols, family, or friends. Make it powerful, original, and blend with the context of the document. However, avoid going overboard with overquoting.

Key Giveaway

The fear of failure often limits our creativity. Therefore, don’t think about the possible outcomes after sending your application. Countercheck each parameter and ensure you put your best foot forward. Other opportunities are available, which should encourage you to try again. 

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5 Things You Need To Know If You Want To Get Into UCLA

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LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 23: University of California Los Angeles (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty ... [+] Images)

The University of California (UC) institution, renowned for its world-class education and cutting-edge research, offers an array of opportunities for students to pursue their academic dreams. Because of the prestigious reputation of UC schools, students from across the world are vying for one of its limited spaces reserved for out-of-state residents. During the last application cycle, the UC system received 245,768 applications across its nine campuses, and UCLA—the most competitive of its nine campuses—had an acceptance rate of 8.8% . With heightened legislative pressure to admit more in-state students, the competition for admission is fiercer than ever before.

Parents and students should note that the UC system does not accept the Common Application and instead requires students to apply through their own application portal, which differs from the Common Application in critical ways. Each UC campus operates independently, but they share a unified application portal through which students can select the UC school(s) that they are interested in applying to. Understanding the differences between these application systems and their significance is critical to achieving success in the admissions process.

If your student dreams of reading in Morrison Library at Berkeley or spending sunny afternoons at the many gardens on UCLA’s campus, here is what you need to know to set them up for success in the process:

1. The UC schools do not consider standardized test scores or letters of recommendation.

First and foremost, it is important to note what is not considered as a part of the UC application—namely, standardized test scores and letters of recommendation (though some schools or programs may request them as a supplemental portion of their application, depending on the major they intend to pursue). This means that admissions committees at UC schools place particular emphasis on a student’s grade point average (GPA). Additionally, since standardized test scores are not considered, students should focus on telling a cohesive story through their extracurriculars and compellingly presenting their unique voice through their Personal Insight Question (PIQ) responses to stand out amongst applicants.

2. UC schools ask Personal Insight Questions (PIQs) rather than traditional essay prompts.

For the written portion of their UC application, students are asked to answer Personal Insight Questions, which are aimed at gaining a more personal understanding of the student’s background, values, and perspectives. According to the UC website, students should approach these questions in the following way: “If we met face-to-face, what would you want us to know about you? These personal insight questions allow you to tell us. You could write about your creative side. Your thoughts on leadership. A challenge you’ve faced. Whatever questions you answer, make sure you show us your personality—just as you would in real life.” Students may choose four out of eight potential questions to answer, each with 350-word answers. Creativity and authenticity are the most important elements of strong PIQs—give the admissions committee information that only you can share!

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India’s newest billionaire made his fortune from selling kitchenware and plastic furniture, russian infantry flung explosive drones at a ukrainian trench, turning a skirmish into a bloody rout, 3. requirements for in-state and out-of-state applicants are slightly different..

For out-of-state applicants, the UC schools require a minimum GPA of 3.4 or higher in the 15 college-preparatory courses (A-G courses) with no grade lower than a C. This requirement is higher than the 3.0 required for in-state students. Consequently, applicants outside of California should independently research the A-G courses and requirements and be sure that they are maintaining top grades in those courses. The UC system also weights AP and IB courses in a student’s GPA, so it is advantageous for applicants to take those courses if their school offers them. While honors classes offered through an applicant’s school are not weighted, they do reflect positively on a student’s academic capabilities and are considered as a part of the holistic review of the student’s application.

4. There are exceptions to the admissions requirements.

Whether in-state or out-of-state, if your student fears they will not be able to meet the GPA requirements for UC admissions, their dreams of attending are not dashed! Each year, UC schools can admit a select number of students with extenuating circumstances who fall beneath the minimum requirements. This may include students who have been homeschooled or non-traditionally educated and those who have faced hardships that have impacted their academic performance. If a student believes that they fall into these categories, they should articulate their unique circumstances to the admissions committee in their PIQ responses.

5. The activities list allows students to provide 20 activities.

While the Common App Activities List allows students to list 10 activities and 5 awards or honors, the UC Activities List provides students the opportunity to list 20 activities, awards, and honors in one section. As students fill out the application, they should take advantage of the additional space to add the breadth of experiences they have had throughout their high school career. On the application, activities are broken into the following sections: Award or honor; Education preparation programs; Extracurricular activity; Other coursework; Work experience; and Volunteering/community service. This allows students to convey a variety of different types of involvements. After compiling the activities they want to include, students should be strategic about how they order their activities on their application—start with the most prestigious and those they are most proud of and work down from there.

Students applying to UC schools should embrace the UC application’s differences as an opportunity to strategically showcase their creativity, genuine interest, and commitment to their communities. Starting early and thinking proactively about how to build a profile that will impress admissions officers is the first step to admission at UCLA!

Christopher Rim

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