How to write a great college application essay

Applying for colleges is a daunting process. Apart from having good grades, extracurriculars and the necessary skills, students are also expected to add a personal touch to their application through an application essay. 

These essays can vary from college to college and country to country, but the essence remains the same. 

These personal essays are meant to let the admissions in-charge know more about the personal background of the students, apart from their academic achievements. 

It is meant to allow the student space to express their unique voice and personality and stand out from all the other applicants vying for the same spot. 

Furthermore, it is meant to help both parties understand whether the college and the student are a good fit for each other. 

When there is so much at stake, it is easy to get flustered and overwhelmed. 

But writing an effective college essay is not as difficult as it seems. All one needs to do is keep certain pointers in mind, and simply let their writing reflect their true selves. 


Here are 8 tips to keep in mind in order to write a great college essay:

Read and follow instructions

While this may seem like an obvious tip, it is an important one. Most colleges instruct students about how long their essay should be, what topics they can write about, and other such details. 

It is important for students to read and understand these instructions and answer the questions posed to them. 

It might be tempting to break out of the given norms in order to stand out, but this would reflect badly upon the student and should be avoided.

Write about something important to you

Choosing the topic of the essay can be a tough decision for most students. A well chosen topic can more often than not, means a well written essay. 

Writing about a topic that is personal and important is a great way to ensure that the essay is unique and special. 

Furthermore, writing about a topic that you are passionate about is a great way to tell the readers more about yourself and your interests. 

Start strong

A compelling introduction is a sure shot way of standing out from the crowd. 

The introduction of an essay is perhaps the most important part, since it briefly tells the reader what the writer wants to say. 

Essays that can hook readers in the introduction and make them intrigued to read the rest, are sure to be interesting and memorable. 

Students should try and make their introduction specific and personal in a way that makes the reader want to read ahead. Using humour or anecdotes can help with this.

Reflect and avoid cliches

A good college essay is one that does not simply recount past experiences, but rather reflects upon them. 

While it can be tempting to summarize one’s life story in an essay by simply narrating incidents, it makes for a dry and boring essay. Instead, students should focus on one or two specific experiences and spend more time reflecting upon those and let their personalities show through their writing

Similarly, while cliches offer a safe option, it is best to avoid them in college essays. An essay is meant to make you stand out from the crowd and cliches will only make you disappear in the large sea of applicants. 

Give examples

In order to make an essay unique and authentic, it is important to highlight the main points of the essay by using anecdotal examples. 

Giving examples not only validates the points being made, but they also provide a specific context to the essay and allow the reader to get to know the student’s background. 

Furthermore, giving personal examples is a great way to add humour and a unique voice to the essay. 

Don’t repeat or summarise

A college essay may vary in length, but most of them are supposed to be quite short and to-the-point. 

As such, it is important to make the most of the word limit and say as much as can be said in that short amount of words. It is vital that the essay have no repetition. 

Furthermore, it is important not to summarise points that have already been made. Not only will this save space, but it ensures that the essay is not boring and disorganised. 

Plan the essay well

Planning is an essential step in the writing process. It is important for students to brainstorm ideas and jot down their main points. 

Furthermore, the essay should be divided into various parts, all of which are planned in advance. 

A well planned and organised essay shows the writer’s communication skills, efficiency and clarity of thought. Planning will also ensure that repetition is avoided and thus help craft a superior essay.

Make multiple drafts

It is said that rewriting is as important as writing. The first draft of any written work is raw and unpolished. It is important to revisit the essay to make it more effective over multiple drafts. 

Furthermore, each draft should be read and edited by either a friend or a family member to provide an outsider’s perspective. 

This will also ensure that the essay is proofread well and there are no spelling or grammatical mistakes. 

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