An excellent college essay informs admissions councils about exactly what a student will do with their college education. In many cases, it could set the student apart and garner notice as the admission process continues, granting the student a better chance at enrollement—and possibly scholarships and financial aid.

Goals of the essay:

  • To give the readers a better understanding of who you are, beyond your transcript, test scores and list of activities,
  • To show the depth of interest and passion you may have in a certain area,
  • To explain something significant about yourself that the readers wouldn’t otherwise know,
  • To show your reader that you can think logically and analytically, and
  • To set yourself apart from the many other applicants who will apply with equally good academic records, scores and recommendations.

Things you absolutely should do:

  • Comply with the requests of the application (essay length, format, topic).
  • Type your essay.
  • Double space your essay (easier to read.)
  • Answer the question that was asked.
  • Send the correct essay in with the correct application.
  • Write your own essay.

Things to Remember:

  • This is the portion of your application that is totally under your control.
  • Your personality and character should be reflected in your essa.y
  • What makes you special may not seem profound, but it will be meaningful and authentic.

Be sure to…

  • Choose an appropriate topic.
  • Remember your audience.
  • Choose something real to write about, something you feel strongly about and are knowledgeable about.
  • Make sure your essay sounds like you; write in your own voice.
  • Proofread; do not rely on your spell-check to catch errors of syntax, homonyms and simply making sense.
  • Have someone else proofread your essay, such as a teacher or parent.
  • Listen to someone read your essay aloud. How does it sound to you?
  • Focus on the chosen topic.
  • Reflect enough on what you have to say so that you exhibit some depth.
  • Feel free to be challenging or funny if that is who you truly are.
  • If focusing on another person and his/her life, make sure that you indicate in detail and in a reflective way how that person has influenced your life.
  • If you choose to focus on a life event from your childhood, make sure that it has relevance to who you are now; make the connection for your reader as to how and why this past event may have been a “turning point” for you.

What might you do to get started?

  • Stop stressing out and just get started by writing something.
  • Remember that there is no one formula for a successful essay.
  • Identify your interests and passions.
  • Identify your strengths.
  • Be yourself.
  • Spend some time writing spontaneously or journaling on a variety of topics:
  • · My mother/father says that I always …
    · My best friend would say that I …
    · Write an introduction of yourself to your future college roommate.
    · List as many adjectives as you can think of that describe you.
    · In what special ways do others see you contributing to your family, school or community?