5 Tips for Writing an Effective College Admissions Essay

Applying for college can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. A lot of documents are pretty cut-and-dry, requiring basic information about you, your family, your grades and test scores, academic activities, extracurriculars, and the like. But one area where you can really shine and be creative is in your college admissions essay.

This is your opportunity to tell the university about yourself, your interests, your abilities, and your potential, in your own words. It is the section of your application package where you can set yourself apart from other applicants based on something other than grades or how well you scored on the SAT or ACT. As you explore your options and begin writing your admissions essays, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Consider each prompt. Many colleges offer several prompts to choose from. Don’t just pick the one that sounds the easiest, or the first to catch your eye. Take the time to think about what each one is asking, and how your experiences align. Which one enables you to really showcase what you bring to the school and why you would be a good addition? What makes for the most engaging story? That is the prompt that you should focus on.

2. Take your time. Don’t wait until the last minute to start writing. Give yourself plenty of time to go through multiple drafts, polish up your essay, and submit the strongest example of your work. If you are rushing to beat a deadline, you may be missing important details that bring more meaning and depth to your essay, and you could be making silly mistakes in your spelling or grammar.

3. Think about what makes you stand out. While scoring the winning goal in your soccer game is exciting, there are plenty of other students who could have the same experience. What sets you apart? What makes your story different? Instead, you could write about the time you didn’t get the winning goal and what it taught you. Or about the split second you had to make the decision about whether to kick the ball in yourself or pass it to a teammate. Try to avoid generic stories that don’t give the reader much insight into who you are or what you value.

4. Stay on topic. There are typically word count limits on essays, so you have a limited amount of space to say what you want to say. Stay focused and don’t go off on a tangent. A lot of students spend most of their time on the beginning of the story, then rush the end because they’re running out of space. Give priority to the most important parts and ensuring that you are answering the question. Then you can go back and adjust and add or remove details.

5. Read it aloud. Reading your own writing aloud can allow you to hear mistakes or areas that don’t flow well. You might catch a spot where you left out a word or two, or where a sentence is confusing. It can also help to read it to someone else because they offer a fresh perspective. They can provide feedback about where you might be missing information, are going off topic, or haven’t made your point clear. Another set of eyes can also be helpful for catching spelling and grammar mistakes.

Your college admissions essay captures one moment in time. Make it a memorable one and show the reader why it matters. If you’re struggling with what to write, how to express your thoughts, or how to structure your essay, Crafting Scholars is here to help. Our learning specialists will work with you on how to craft an effective essay that makes you stand out for the right reasons. Contact us today to sign up or learn more!