How to Write a Great College Essay

Writing a standout college admissions essay can feel intimidating, but with some strategic planning and editing, you can craft an essay that helps your application shine. Here are some tips for writing an engaging and effective college essay:

Choose a Meaningful Topic

Your essay topic should reveal something meaningful about you as an applicant. Avoid clichés and aim for originality. If an experience, person, or interest shaped you significantly, explore writing about that. Share a story that provides insight into your personality, values, or background.

Foster a Distinctive Voice

Your voice should come through in the essay—after all, admissions officers want to get to know you as an individual. Use vivid language and sensory details to bring your writing to life, and don’t be afraid to let your personality shine. Avoid sounding overly formal or stiff.

Structure Your Essay Thoughtfully

While there’s no single formula for the perfect college essay structure, having an intentional narrative arc can help. Use anecdotes and examples to illustrate key themes, and connect different parts of your story together. Paragraph breaks can help segment your essay into digestible chunks.

Open Strong

Your introductory paragraph should immediately grab the reader’s attention. Consider starting with a striking image, meaningful dialogue, or intriguing question that relates to your central theme. This creates momentum that carries through the rest of the essay.

Proofread Extensively

Refine your essay through multiple rounds of review. Look out for clumsy phrases, redundancy, grammatical errors, ambiguous pronouns, and more. Reading your essay aloud catches things your eyes might miss. Give yourself time to take a break between editing sessions.

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Supplement Your Main Essay

Short supplemental essays, if required, offer opportunities to share other strengths, passions, and individual qualities. Approach these with the same level of thoughtfulness as your main personal statement.

With deliberate planning and revision, your college application essays can help admissions committees better understand the person behind the transcript. Convey your unique story and perspective—this is your chance to shine.

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