Cordon J.
Cordon J.

An Expert Guide to Writing a Great College Application Essay

8 min read

Published on: Mar 2, 2020

Last updated on: Jan 20, 2023

College Application Essay

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The college application essay is one of the most important parts of your application. It's what you will use to introduce yourself and showcase your personality, creativity, and personal qualities to the admissions office.

But with so many different colleges out there, it can be difficult to narrow down which essay they want from you. This blog post will give you some tips on how to write a great college admission essay that showcases who you are as an individual- no matter where or for what school!

What is a College Application Essay?

Every year colleges receive hundreds of thousands of applications from high school students. It is not easy for them to choose the best candidates, as many candidates with similar scores apply to these colleges.

So they include your personal statement in their admission process along with recommendation letters to discover what separates you from the other skilled applicants.

That is why colleges allow you to tell them more about yourself and prove to them with your essay’s help that you are the kind of candidate they are looking for.

Application essays are now part of the admission application process in almost all the colleges offering higher education worldwide.

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Importance of a College Application Essay

Your college essay is more than good grammar and correct sentence structure. Since your academic grades and test scores have nothing about your personality, interests, and hidden talents, the college application essay serves this purpose.

In a college admission essay, you can talk about your extracurricular activities, achievements, and personality. Convince the committee that you are more than just an A student.

Keep in mind that you are a unique person with a unique personality. Your interests, choices, achievements, and approaches to tasks, problems, and conflicts are unique somehow.

You can use this in your favor and make an impression on the committee. This is your chance to prove your mettle.

What is a College Looking for in Your Essay?

As mentioned earlier, academics is not the only factor in getting admission into a college.

The admission officer is looking to know more about you while reading your essay. Colleges look for candidates with exceptional skills and people who can bring diversity and add value to the community.

There are many things you must add to your supplemental essay. The reason is every college offers different programs, and they expect talented candidates. So that resources provided by the college are used in the best way possible.

The college admission committee looks for the following things in your essay:

  • Your command of basic essay writing
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Your creativity and originality
  • Can you directly answer the essay questions?
  • Your ability to express yourself in an essay
  • Self-motivation
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • How do you want to contribute to society?
  • What change do you want to bring to society?
  • Diversity of experience
  • Clarity of thoughts
  • Your ability to construct an argument

Keeping in mind that a common application must answer these two questions in one way or the other.

  • What sets you apart from other applicants?
  • Why did you choose this college?

If you properly answered these questions, your essay will be counted in the best as you told them what they wanted to hear.

How to Write a College Application Essay?

Writing an essay is tough, but it becomes a lot tougher when your admission is dependent on one essay. But it is not impossible to tailor a beautiful essay. Here are the steps to follow to write a perfect application essay.

1. Understanding the Prompt

The essay topic is the most important point of your essay, and you should take it seriously. You should know the topic or the question well to craft your essay accordingly. The college can ask you to follow a particular prompt like a question or ask you to provide a “why us” type essay.

If you are given a free hand to pick a topic of your choice, you are in control. You have a chance to choose the best and grab the committee’s attention, and hence stand out from the crowd. Now, a free hand can be dangerous too. Turning it into a friendly option is your job.

You don't have to pick a topic specifically from a common app for your application essay. If the committee is offering you to choose a topic of your choice, pick the one in which you can write much about yourself.

2. Outline of Your Essay

The outline is your best companion in your writing. It helps you create a structure for your essay. Note the main points in the outline so that you don't miss anything in your essay.

3. The Beginning and Ending

Beginning and Ending are always the key things people remember about your essay or whatever that you wrote. This is your opportunity to stand aside from the crowd and make the evaluation easier for the committee.

4. Mention Your Accomplishments

Talking about your accomplishments is essential. It is you providing proof of your can-do capability. And once you provide evidence to someone, it’s very easy to convince them.

5. Show Your Personality

Show the real you. Don't fake anything. You have a unique personality, as your experiences are different. Share what you have learned from your experiences to reflect your real personality.

6. Work on Your Grammatical Skills

The usage of good and simple words is really important. Stay away from thesaurus as you don't have to write words you don't use in your daily conversation. You might sound awkward while using such terms as you are not comfortable with them. Hence, it's better to avoid such things and save yourself from embarrassment.

7. Share Your Real Story

Many students take help from the internet and just copy-paste the essays they found online. This is the biggest mistake they can ever make. The admission committee can easily recognize that it's not your real story.

Confidently share your personal story that is relevant to the prompt, as college boards care about your complete persona. You don't have to be over creative with your story; just be the real you.

8. Read Other’s Essay

Read other’s essays and get some inspiration and learn how they have crafted their story. It will help you present your ideas and think of things that best suit your essay prompt.

9. Create a Draft

Give yourself time and brainstorm; let the ideas flow in. Gather as much information as you can and write your first draft. After writing the first draft, refine it as many times as you can. Refining your draft a number of times will help you craft a perfect essay for your admission.

10. Stick To The Word Count

Most of the colleges have restrictions that you can’t write over the specific word limit. So you have to cover each and everything within that particular word limit. Even if the admission board hasn't restricted the word count, you still have to be in the limit.

If they asked you to write your essay within 500 - 650 words, stick to the limit and provide your complete story within this limit. A college essay is comparatively short, to the point, and well written. Avoid extra details and long descriptions.

11. Take A Break

After revising and refining your first draft, take a break to let it sit and rewrite your essay. Taking a break will help you think of things you might have missed in your essay, but they are very relevant to your story and the prompt.

12. Write The Final Draft

Revise your essay to include important information and exclude irrelevant details from the essay. Correct all grammatical and spelling mistakes. Check the flow of the story; does it sound real? Does the information have a logical connection?

Refine your essay and remove all the mistakes. I know it will scare you initially, but once you follow the steps, you will have a well-crafted essay in your hand.

College Application Essay Examples

It is essential to follow a proper format, as it is no casual writing. Be very careful in essay structure as it counts too. You might be getting admission to an ivy league or any top-notch college. You don’t want to miss this.

A well-structured essay is easy to digest, and more importantly, will get your job done. Here is a college application essay format example you have a look for reference.

It is your chance to go to your dream college, and you can’t afford to lose, do you? Here are some example essays that worked and you can learn from.

Do’s and Don’ts of College Application Essay

In such a critical part of admission, you have to be very careful. There are certain things experts will suggest and other things they will want you to avoid. Here are the do’s and don’ts of college application essays.


  • Since the committee wants to know about you, you have to use your own voice and writing tone.
  • Tell them something they don’t know already.
  • Don’t forget to get your spelling & grammar checked once you are done with your essay.
  • Let someone else proofread your essay, as we often don’t see the mistakes we make.
  • It is best to seek help from a counselor for test prep or any good writer who can spare some time and edit your application, keeping in mind your needs.


  • Avoid classroom answers; it’s not an exam. The admission board does not expect the right response; instead, they want you to be honest and be yourself.
  • Don’t use informal words that you use in casual conversations with friends and family over coffee.
  • Don't write stories. Be real instead.
  • Don't wait until the day you have to submit your essay. Start today and write your essay again and again till the day you submit it.
  • Strictly avoid repeating your resume in your personal statement. The committee asked for a personal essay, not a resume. By this age, you should know what a resume is and how it is different from a personal statement.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do you start a college application essay?

Following are the steps to start a college application essay:

  1. Try starting with a question.
  2. Begin with a bold statement.
  3. Use an interesting quote.
  4. Challenge the reader by speaking directly to them.
  5. Tell the reader what you do NOT want to do in your writing.

What should a college application essay be about?

Most college applications ask for a supplemental essay. The essay is to learn about you. You can write about your life experiences and what you want to do in the future.

What do colleges look for in an essay?

Admissions officers look for students who have interesting experiences that show their character and point of view. These are essays that are not just about safe, generic things. These essays make the admissions officer remember them or want to help them.

How long is a college essay?

For your college application, your personal statement should be around 400-600 words. You need to write about yourself.

Cordon J.


Cordon J. (Law, Literature)

Cordon. is a published author and writing specialist. He has worked in the publishing industry for many years, providing writing services and digital content. His own writing career began with a focus on literature and linguistics, which he continues to pursue. Cordon is an engaging and professional individual, always looking to help others achieve their goals.

Cordon. is a published author and writing specialist. He has worked in the publishing industry for many years, providing writing services and digital content. His own writing career began with a focus on literature and linguistics, which he continues to pursue. Cordon is an engaging and professional individual, always looking to help others achieve their goals.

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