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15 Tips for a Strong College Admissions Essay

Written by Chandra Clarke


Applying to colleges can be a confusing process because the application package typically includes many different parts. 

A college admissions essay is a vital component of this package, and most colleges require one. To write a successful essay, the savvy applicant must brainstorm and plan their document carefully.

The following tips will guide you through the steps to a great admissions essay.

15 tips for a strong college admissions essay

  1. Allow enough time to write and revise the essay.
  2. Research the school so you can include specific details in the essay.
  3. Review the format requirements and guidelines, and choose a relevant prompt, if applicable.
  4. Decide what topics you want to cover, and organize your information.
  5. Write an outline and a rough draft before the final copy of the essay.
  6. Avoid potentially controversial subjects.
  7. Inject personality and creativity into the essay.
  8. Prove all assertions with supporting evidence.
  9. Write about yourself positively.
  10. Verify all facts for accuracy.
  11. Include specific examples of challenges you have overcome.
  12. Keep the essay simple and focused.
  13. Observe the rules of grammar carefully.
  14. Spend time editing and proofreading the essay to ensure that it is correct and consistent.
  15. Write a unique admissions essay for each college application you complete.

Examples and helpful resources

The following resources expand on these tips and give you detailed insight into what schools are looking for when they review college admissions essays.

College essay examples

How to write a college application essay

  • Essay Tips: Writing a strong essay is an integral part of the college application process. Students can succeed if they approach the essay as a unique opportunity to present themselves to a college.
  • Tips for Writing Your College Application Essay (PDF): Most of the college application package contains impersonal facts. However, the application essay should be a reflection of the applicant in that it shares his or her views, goals, and experiences.
  • Writing Your College Admission Essays: Helpful Tips and Exercises (PDF): Use the application essay to share information that cannot be included in other parts of the application, such as details about accomplishments and goals.

Writing the personal statement

  • Writing the Personal Statement: Admission into a graduate program involves demonstrating that you will be a successful and positive member of the college's academic community. The personal statement is an opportunity to demonstrate your ability and willingness to achieve this goal.
  • Personal Statement Writing Tips: A simple and succinct personal statement will enable you to convey your goals and make a positive impression on an admissions committee.
  • How to Write Your Personal Essay: Use your personal essay to present yourself in a positive fashion. College admissions boards want to get to know a bit about their applicants when choosing potential new students.
  • The Five-Step Personal Essay Writing Guide: "Community Service" (PDF): Focus an admissions essay on the community service you have performed to demonstrate your involvement with projects that give back to the community.

Write your best college admissions essay

Professional editing and proofreading can help you sound your best. After reviewing these tips and completing your first draft, consider sending your work to a professional editor. In addition to eliminating grammatical mistakes, an editor can help you draw your unique skills to the forefront, creating a stronger, more compelling essay. 


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About the Author

Chandra ClarkeChandra is the founder and former president of Scribendi. She holds a BA in English and an MSc in Space Exploration Studies. Her lifelong devotion to the written word started when she joined The Chatham Daily News as a regional stringer. She then worked as a reporter/photographer for a large chain of weeklies before becoming the managing editor of an independent paper, a post she held for two years before striking out on her own. She pens a weekly humor column and has written dozens of short stories, newspaper articles, and magazine articles. She is an enthusiastic supporter of space exploration and scientific research, and is the author of Be the Change: Saving the World with Citizen Science.

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