How to Write a College Admission Essay (The Complete Guide)

May 31, 2024

how to write a college admission essay

This is the complete guide on how to write a college admission essay. Whether you've already decided what college you want to enroll in or you're still figuring thigs out, you'll find this guide helpful.

A college admissions essay is more than your typical two-page essay. This is an essay where you are expected to show your best qualities by examining examples about yourself.

Your priority should be ensuring that your essay is able to leave a positive and lasting impression. One of the best ways to do this is by showcasing who you are outside your achievements in the classroom and extracurricular activities. 

You need to convey the aspects that make a unique individual by providing information about your background. If the opportunity to plead your case before an admission committee presented itself, what would you say?

This college admissions essay is your best chance to share your life experiences, challenges, influences, and personality. 

In addition, it allows you to explain why you would be the best for the institution you are applying to. You need to share the stories that delve past your achievements in the rest of your application. 

Getting Started With College Admission Essay Writing

Most admissions panels realize that writing is not a skill that comes naturally to everyone. However, such frailties can be addressed through time and practice.

One of the simplest things you can do is to get writing assistance from Help for Assessment. With experience in college admission essay writing, our team is the best to hire if you need to complete the essay before the application deadline

You can work on the quality of your writing ability is to review free admission essay samples that can be found on the internet. Through such strategies, you get to understand what is expected by an admissions board and what is needed to get noticed.

Through such strategies, you get to understand what is expected by an admissions board and what is needed to get noticed.

Another common struggle encountered by most students is the inability to resist the urge to squeeze every little tiny detail about you within this essay.

Your application essay should not recount your life story. It however provides you the opportunity to pick specific stories and experiences that grab the attention of the admissions panel.

It is important to note that the main priority of the admissions panel or board is to bring together an eclectic mix of people. No institution wants a collection of copycats who will ultimately offer the same thing.

Therefore, the main objective of your essay should be to demonstrate that you are a unique individual who possesses distinctive qualities that other students would not offer.

Ideally, your essay should present a complete package, a student who possesses all the qualities that show they are destined for greatness. If you can put this across in your essay, any institution would be proud to include you in their roster.

In order to draft the best application essay, you need to have a strategy that will allow you to tell a compelling story.

This involves getting all the essential information in your essay. It will involve pulling out the necessary stops to ensure that it happens.

The following practical guidelines will ensure that your application essay delivers the required message you want the admissions panel to receive.

How to Write a College Admission Essay Step by Step

1. Start With An Outline 

There are only a few things as insurmountable or intimidating to a writer more than a blank page. That is why before drafting your application essay, you need to create an outline.

content essay outline

Outlines are essential because they provide the writer with a good starting point. In the digital age, you can easily go online and browse different sample essays until you find the template that appeals to you.

Templates help the student to shape their ideas and incorporate them into a specific format.

For instance, you might feel the need to include the name and address of the target institution which will be receiving your application essay.

However, one should not rely on templates too strongly. Its main purpose is to aid your creativity and therefore should not act as a restriction.

The template you choose for your sample college admission essay should, in essence, act as a scaffold through which you can base the rest of your essay around.

Most admission panels receive hundreds of application essays each year. Therefore, you would not be doing yourself any favors by adhering to a generic or slavish template that these individuals have across dozens of times.

You need to depart from the templates you come across in the sample essay by incorporating your own brand of unique perspectives.

2. Learn The Prompts

One of the most crucial aspects that end up hurting the chances of prospective applicants is their inability to understand the essay prompt.

essay prompt instructions

Most college essay questions often propose specific topics and ideas that the student needs to focus on.

They can either be trivial or personal but their main objective is to challenge you. They want to see if these questions can spark your creativity and make you think outside the box.

Each institution has its own set of prompts that they expect you to write about.

For instance, some may ask you to write a college admission essay about your personal goals while others could focus on the multitudes of accomplishments you have so far achieved.

Some of the most challenging prompts you to detail a lesson that you have acquired through a specific setback or failure in your life.

Ensure that before you begin to write a college admission essay, you examine the prompts provided by the institution you are applying to.

Do not rush. Take your time reading through these prompts because they will make the foundation of your essay. Note down any ideas that come to your mind and would fit perfectly with a specific prompt.

Another aspect that most students ignore, is the significance of the personal experience. Based on the prompt provided, choose experiences that you are most excited to talk about.

When you have finished your admissions essay, you need to review your writing to ensure that it adheres to the prompt.

3. List Your Life Experiences

life experiences

After examining the prompts, you now need to compile a list of your most appropriate life experiences. This is an important step because it allows you to categorize the different experiences in diverse ways. 

For example, you can create a list of individuals who have heavily influenced your life and another list of your personal interests, unique skills, achievements, and personal experiences.

After completing each list, you should begin to elaborate by including details that might be considered essential.

During this process, anything that meets the criteria you have defined should be added to the list. 

This list will serve as a reference when writing your essay because it possesses the first morsels of truth that will allow the admissions panel to get acquainted with you.

4. Share a Personal Story

share your story

One of the best ways to make sure that your application essay stands out from the rest of the bunch is to share a personal story that, in this case, is relevant to the prompt given.

This is where you will show the admissions panel a different side of you. You do not however have to pick a story that is related to your academic endeavors.

The admissions office also cares about your complete persona. However, it is important to note that this personal story should exist to serve the prompt.

Some students include personal stories that do not in any way reveal anything about their personalities. You should, therefore, leave out any elements that the reader might construe to be irrelevant to your application essay.

Also, resist the urge to include juicy details about your personal life. When choosing which story to go with, opt for incidents that have allowed you to learn and grow as a person.

Do not be scared of including failures you encountered. The admissions panel recognizes that all students are human and failure will always be a natural part of everyone’s life.

5. Show Your Personality

what is your personality

In comparison to the rest of your application which mainly comprises of test scores and objective facts, the admissions essay allows the student to showcase aspects about their lives that make them unique, both as a person and a student.

Do not be afraid to use your own voice to show why the institution should consider you as an asset.

Many students fall into the trap of sanitizing their opinions or sentiments in order to avoid offending members of the panel. 

While proper grammar and spelling are imperative, this essay provides the student with the perfect opportunity to incorporate witty turns of humor and creative metaphors.

6. Be Honest

Although creativity is perceived as an added bonus when writing your essay, you need to resist the urge to alter some of the facts.

You do not need to exaggerate your own accomplishments in order to make yourself more appealing to admissions officers. 

However, you also do not need to present a list of your various shortcomings.

The best way to be honest when writing this essay is to acknowledge any misjudgments or weaknesses you are aware of about yourself. 

By doing so, you demonstrate authenticity and lend credibility to any of your accomplishments. No one expects you to be perfect so do not make yourself unrealistic.

7. Leave Your Reader with A Lasting Impression

Most people recollect the last things best, or at least first. This should be a sentiment that you strive to abide by while writing your essay.

The most important things during a speech are often uttered on the way out of the podium. In the same manner, your application essay should end by summarizing the most significant points you are trying to put across.

Make sure that the last words are memorable because such an ending is poignant. They ideally could evoke a specific emotion from the reader.

This can be done through a well-worded phrase or sentence or merely a genuine sentiment written from the heart.

8. Write The Essay

pre-writing essay

Once you feel that you are satisfied with your preparations for the essay, you can begin writing.

At this point, you know the exact story you want to tell and the experience you want to write about. You can now sit at your computer and get to it.

One of the best ways that have proven beneficial to so many students, is banging out a rough draft of the essay without making any changes. However, after doing so you can go back and proofread and revise the essay.

Consequently, you also need to keep the focus of the essay personal and narrow. Ensure that you do not lose your reader. Adhere to the prompt and stick to your main ideas from beginning to end.

Avoid any generic, cliché, or predictable phrases. Ensure that any stories and experiences you include are detailed and specific. Be concise.

One of the main errors that most students commit when writing their college application essays is using 50 words where five words would have easily sufficed.

Try your absolute best to ensure that you include only the necessary information.

Before you know it, you will have a ready paper that has adhered to the prompt, word count and you’ will be happy you set aside all that time for preparations.

9. Proofread

proofread your writing with grammarly

The final step before submitting your essay is proofreading. This might actually longer than writing the actual essay because you are trying to dot your i(s)and cross your t(s).

During this process, you might need to revise several times before your essay begins to take shape.

As you proofread your paper ensure that you avoid using too many words because it makes it boring, does not try to impress the admissions officer by using big words, and does not over sensationalize it.

You have worked tirelessly to reach this point, and while you might feel a sigh of relief, it is important to recognize that your final essay will only be as good as your editing.

Aspects such as typos and grammatical errors could convey carelessness and these are not the traits you are trying to relay to the college admissions officers.

By adhering to the steps explained in this analysis, you can ultimately be confident that your admissions essay will deliver a powerful message and tell a story that will get the attention of any institution of your choice. 

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}