6 Tips for Writing a Good College Admissions Essay

If you follow these guidelines, your only challenge will be deciding which college to attend.
December 5, 2018
7 mins read

In high school, many students are very good essay writers, so never in a million years do they think that a time will come when essay-writing will become hard to tackle. However, when you reach college, the standards for writing quality rise precipitously, and many students find they can no longer b.s. something last minute or spool together some unrelated string of events into an A+ paper.

And, as if that’s not intimidating enough, the first essay high school students have to write that gets judged by these more stringent criteria is their college application, a piece of exposition that has more riding on its success than almost any other article you’ll write in your life.  

As a result, when trying to determine what and how to write, this pressure can leave even the most talented of student writers frozen. Plus, because you write application essays while still living with your parents, family can add stress to the whole situation, as your mom and dad clearly have a vested interest in where you get your college education.

While all this might sound stressful, it’s important that you try to remain as relaxed as possible. That goes for parents too. Then, read over the six tips below to help you when writing your college application essay. With the right preparation, you’ll find that the task is more than manageable.

1. Research the University

If, for example, you are applying to join the University of Chicago, the first thing you should do is spend an hour or two googling everything you can about the school’s programs, professors, reputation, campus and application rigamarole. If you know any alumni or current students, you should reach out to them and get their feedback on the school, especially if they might have any valuable insight as to the application process.

Doing this will give you an idea of what it is like to be a part of the university family, and you’ll have more clarity about your decision to apply.

2. Choose a Topic You Are Comfortable With

Many colleges will give you a choice of topics to choose from for your admission essay; others, however, will ask you to offer your own topic. Whatever the case, make sure the topic you choose is both compelling and something you can write about comfortably. Pick something you are passionate about, because your thoughts will flow more easily if you are invested in your subject matter.

Remember also to be honest about whatever topic you choose. Do not write anything blatantly fictional, because admission officers will almost certainly be able to see through your hyperbole. It is their job, after all, to read hundreds of these essays, and most of them have developed a finely tuned detector for lies. Do not treat this as a resume, and do not try to portray yourself as a hero. Focus on keeping the essay simple and true.

If the particular application you are writing requires you to focus on a specific topic, take time and think about how you want to present it. You might do better in writing a detailed analysis of the topic, connecting the core question to an event in your life or comparing the posed query to an instrumental work of art you’ve encountered. No matter what, stick to your strengths. The application committee will appreciate a fresh take on what are, inevitably, scores of similarly themed articles, so if you can keep your piece engaging, novel and true to your experience, you’re in the clear.

3. Make a Draft

One of the best ways to organize your ideas is by making a draft of what you want to write. Outline all your talking points starting from the title, then moving on to at least three body paragraphs and ending with a conclusion. Under each heading, write down the different line items you want to get across, and underneath these, write down the sub-points you want to add.

By doing this, you will be able to connect your ideas more easily, which is critical to forming the foundation of an effective essay. Also, feel free to practice with as many drafts as you want until you feel you have the correct one.

4. Make the Topic Your Own

In high school, you probably asked your parents for help writing some of your essays, which is fine because no one knows you better than the people who raised you. However, when writing a college application, you should really try to work without them.

Make the topic your own and write from your heart. The more your parents tinker with your writing, the less authentic it will read, and admissions counselors will be able to sniff out a doctored essay with ease. Instead, ask for your parents’ help proofreading your writing and take any of their thematic feedback into consideration, but make sure the emotion of the piece comes from you.

5. Maintain a Tight Structure and Consistent Tone 

It is very important to maintain a good structure on your essay, meaning you should have an engaging introduction, at least three clear body paragraphs and a conclusion that summarizes your points and leaves the reader with a hook.

Once you’ve made sure your structure checks out, run your essay through a grammar check and try to weed out any unnecessary passive constructions.

6. Refine and Revise

This is very important because it will help you crop out what you do not need. In fact, it’s highly likely that, upon finishing your first draft, you will have exceeded the word count and need to trim some language just to meet the essay’s qualifications. To do so, go through the essay, check if there are any repeated ideas, prepositional or superfluous phrases and delete what you do not need.  

Cutting out words is not an easy or enjoyable task, but the point is to make your essay as clean as possible. Go through your opening sentence again and see if it is captivating enough. Always end your essay on a high note to make whoever reads the essay reflect on the topic. Again, do not forget to carry out a spell check and grammar. Quality should be the word.

Wrapping It Up

While we at RapidEssay hope the above tips will be of much help, we also know that, because of time constraints, language barriers or anxiety, not every student has the ability to write their application essay effectively.

To help, we are here to give you all the strategies you need to write your essay. Whatever your topic is, you can trust us to help you all the way. We are thorough, affordable and, most of all, we offer high-quality work. Check out our website at www.rapidessay.com to learn more.

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