5 Tips for Writing an Outstanding College Application Essay

5 Tips for Writing an Outstanding College Application Essay

If you’re a high school student, chances are you’ve already started thinking about your college applications. One of the most important parts of the application process is the essay. This is your opportunity to show colleges who you really are, beyond your grades and test scores. Therefore, it’s crucial to take the time to write an exceptional essay that will grab the attention of admissions counselors and make you stand out from the crowd.

Selecting a topic for your essay is the first step, and it’s essential to choose something that is authentic to you. Don’t pick a topic because someone else recommends it or because you think it will impress the admissions officers. Instead, think about what you’re passionate about or what has had a significant impact on your life. Write about something that will allow your true self to shine through.

Once you’ve chosen a topic, it’s important to focus your essay and avoid going off on tangents. Stick to the main idea and make sure each paragraph is connected to your central theme. This will make your essay more coherent and easy to follow. Remember, the admissions counselors will be reading hundreds, if not thousands, of essays, so make sure yours is well-organized and stays on track.

Another crucial tip is to show, don’t just tell. Instead of simply listing your accomplishments or experiences, try to show how they have shaped you as a person. Use specific examples and vivid language to bring your story to life. By doing so, you’ll create a more engaging and memorable essay that will leave a lasting impression on the admissions officers.

Lastly, make sure to proofread your essay several times before submitting it. Even the most well-written essays can be undermined by simple spelling or grammar mistakes. Go through your essay word by word, line by line, and correct any errors you find. It’s also a good idea to have someone else, like a trusted teacher or counselor, read your essay and provide feedback. They may catch mistakes that you missed and offer valuable suggestions for improvement.

Writing a college application essay might seem daunting, but with these five tips, you can craft an outstanding piece that will help you stand out from the competition. Remember, this essay is your chance to show colleges the real you, so take the time to think about what makes you unique and let your personality shine through. Good luck!

Essential Tips for Crafting an Exceptional College Application Essay

  • Stick to the prompts: Each college may have different essay prompts, so make sure to read and understand them carefully. Experienced college counselors can be a valuable resource in guiding you through this process.
  • Focus on your wins: Highlight your achievements and experiences that make you stand out. Whether it’s your high school accomplishments or leadership roles in various organizations, showcasing your track record of success will impress the admissions officers.
  • Tell an authentic story: Your essay should reflect your personality and values. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and share a unique perspective or personal story that will grab the readers’ attention.
  • Take your time: Don’t rush the writing process. Start early and give yourself enough time to brainstorm, draft, and revise your essay. Several drafts may be necessary to ensure that your essay is polished and well-written.
  • Keep the focus on you: While it’s important to mention your accomplishments, remember that the essay is about you and your journey. Avoid comparing yourself to others or using your essay as a way to brag about someone else’s achievements.
  • Be unique: With so many college application essays to read, admissions officers are looking for something that stands out. Find ways to showcase your personality, interests, and passions that make you different from other applicants.
  • Look beyond the common topics: While it’s okay to write about common topics, try to find a unique angle or perspective that sets your essay apart. Avoid using cliches and strive to bring a fresh perspective to the table.
  • Generate ideas before you start writing: Spend some time brainstorming and jotting down ideas before you begin writing your essay. This will help you to organize your thoughts and generate unique and captivating content.
  • Read other college essays: Reading essays written by other applicants can provide inspiration and help you understand what works and what doesn’t. However, make sure not to copy someone else’s work or ideas.
  • Ask for feedback: Once you have a draft of your essay, seek feedback from teachers, friends, or family members. Their insights can help you improve your essay and catch any mistakes or areas that need clarification.

By following these tips and keeping the above points in mind, you’ll be well on your way to crafting an amazing college application essay that will impress the admissions officers and increase your chances of getting into your dream college.

Choose a Unique and Personal Essay Topic

Many students make the mistake of selecting a topic that they think will impress the admissions officers or one that they think is “safe” and commonly chosen. However, what schools really value is your ability to tell your own story in a compelling and genuine way.

One way to select a unique essay topic is to think about the experiences, challenges, or events that have shaped you into the person you are today. Consider moments that have had a profound impact on your life, or times when you’ve had to overcome obstacles. By choosing a topic that is specific to you, you can bring a personal touch to your essay that sets it apart from others.

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Another strategy is to think about your family background or cultural heritage. Is there an interesting story about your ancestors or a tradition that has been passed down through generations? For example, you can write about how your great-grandfather’s journey to a new country has influenced your perspective on the value of hard work and perseverance.

Remember, your essay should not be a repeat of what can be found elsewhere in your application. Instead, it should delve deeper and offer insight into your character, values, and aspirations. Think about what is not already evident from your grades or extracurricular activities, and use your essay as an opportunity to show who you are beyond the numbers.

As you brainstorm ideas, consider writing a list of potential essay topics and then narrowing it down to several strong contenders. From there, you can ask your friends, family, or college counselor for their input on which topic they think is the most authentic and compelling.

Once you’ve chosen a topic, it’s time to start writing. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through and to take risks with your language and style. Use examples and specific details to bring your topic to life, and make sure to stay true to your authentic voice throughout the essay.

After you’ve written your first draft, be sure to proofread and edit it carefully. Look for any areas where you can improve clarity or make your point stronger. You may also want to read your essay aloud to see how it flows and if there are any awkward or repetitive phrases that can be revised.

In summary, choosing a unique and personal essay topic is one of the most important ways to make your college application essay stand out. By selecting a topic that is specific to you and your experiences, you can show the admissions officers who you are and what you will bring to their school. So take the time to brainstorm, draft, and revise until you find the perfect topic that truly reflects your authentic self.

Highlight Your Achievements and Experiences

One of the best ways to highlight your achievements and experiences is by focusing on specific examples. Instead of telling the reader that you’re a great leader, show them a specific situation where you demonstrated your leadership skills. Without repeating your entire life story, select one or two experiences that best represent who you are and what you can bring to the college community.

Throughout your essay, be sure to analyze the significance of these experiences. Don’t just tell the reader what happened; explain why it matters and how it has shaped your values, goals, and future aspirations. Use this opportunity to show your depth of thought and your ability to reflect on the world around you.

One strategy to impress admission officers is to use strong and vivid language. Paint a picture with your words and make the reader feel like they are right there with you. Use sensory details to bring your experiences to life and make your essay stand out from the rest.

Another essential aspect of your essay is communication. Your writing should sound like you, with your own unique voice and personality. Avoid using clichés or generic phrases that could be found in any other essay. Be authentic and let your true self shine through your words.

When writing about your achievements and experiences, don’t be afraid to brag a little. This is your chance to show the reader what you’re proud of and what makes you special. However, be careful not to come across as arrogant or boastful. Strike a balance and let your accomplishments speak for themselves.

When proofreading your essay, pay attention to the overall structure and organization. Make sure your ideas flow logically from one paragraph to the next and that each paragraph contributes to the central theme of your essay. If your achievements and experiences are scattered throughout the essay, consider restructuring it to give them more prominence.

Lastly, keep in mind the prompt. Make sure you fully understand what the prompt is asking and answer it directly. Don’t go off on tangents or try to write the essay you think the admission officers want to read. Stick to the topic and make sure your essay addresses the prompt in a clear and concise manner.

Showcase Your Writing Skills

Here are 5 tips to help you showcase your writing skills in your college application essay:

1. Focus on the prompt: Before you start writing, carefully read and analyze the essay prompts provided by the colleges you are applying to. Think about what they are asking and what they want to learn about you. This will help you stay on track and ensure that your essay addresses the prompt effectively.
2. Show, don’t tell: Instead of simply telling the admissions officers about your accomplishments or experiences, use descriptive language and vivid examples to bring them to life. By using specific details and imagery, you can create a more engaging and memorable essay.
3. Stay authentic: Your essay should reflect your true self and voice. Avoid trying to impress the reader with fancy words or pretending to be someone you’re not. Admissions officers are looking for genuine and authentic essays that provide insight into who you are as a person.
4. Edit and revise: After you have written a draft of your essay, take the time to review and revise it. Look for any grammatical or spelling errors, and make sure your ideas flow smoothly. You may also want to seek feedback from teachers, mentors, or family members to get different perspectives on your essay.
5. Write with style: Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through in your writing. Use a mix of serious and light-hearted tones, and experiment with different sentence structures and word choices. A well-crafted essay that showcases your unique writing style will capture the attention of the admissions officers.
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Remember, the college application essay is your chance to show off your writing skills and leave a lasting impression on the admissions committee. By following these strategies and putting in the effort to craft an amazing essay, you can increase your chances of getting accepted into the college of your dreams.

Be Authentic and Genuine

It can be tempting to try to be whatever you think the admissions officers want to see. You may feel the need to present yourself in a perfect or “best” light, but remember that colleges are looking for real, genuine students, not robots.

One of the best ways to showcase your authenticity is to choose a topic or theme that truly resonates with you. Don’t be afraid to write about something that may be considered unconventional or off the beaten track. Admission officers value personal stories and unique perspectives, so don’t be afraid to share yours.

Another essential strategy for being authentic is to write in your own voice. Don’t try to mimic someone else’s style or use language that doesn’t feel natural to you. Your essay should sound like you and reflect your own thoughts and experiences.

While it’s important to be open and genuine, it’s also crucial to think deeper and read between the lines. Admission officers are often looking for qualities and values that may be woven into your essay, so don’t be afraid to showcase your strong critical thinking skills.

The 2023-24 college applications are just around the corner, so now is the perfect time to start thinking about how you can stay true to yourself in your college essay. Don’t rush the process or feel pressured to conform to what you think colleges want to hear. Your unique personality, values, and experiences are what can truly set you apart from other applicants.

So, take a deep breath, and remember that being authentic is essential. Don’t make the mistake of writing what you think colleges want to read. Instead, bring your real self to the table and let your genuine voice shine through.

Seek Feedback and Revise

Once you have completed a draft of your college application essay, it’s important to seek feedback from others. Don’t rely solely on your own perspective, as others may be able to offer valuable insights and suggestions for improvement.

Reach out to several trusted individuals such as family members, teachers, or friends, and ask them to read your essay. Their fresh eyes and different perspectives can help you identify any weak points, areas for improvement, or unclear passages.

In addition to seeking feedback from others, it’s also important to revise your essay early and often. The more drafts you go through, the stronger your essay will become. Don’t settle for your first draft – take the time to make revisions and improvements.

As you revise, pay attention to the clarity and organization of your essay. Is your main idea clearly stated? Are your paragraphs well-structured and do they flow smoothly from one to the next? Is your essay focused on the topic at hand, or does it veer off into unrelated tangents? Make sure your essay is cohesive and stays on track.

When seeking feedback and revising your essay, it’s important to keep in mind the specific requirements and values of the colleges you are applying to. Different colleges may have different essay prompts or specific topics they want you to address. Make sure your essay answers the question or prompt effectively and highlights your personal experiences and personality.

It can also be helpful to create a list of the specific qualities, experiences, or accomplishments you want to highlight in your essay. This will help you stay focused and ensure that your essay brings attention to the aspects of yourself that you want to emphasize.

Lastly, when revising your essay, don’t be afraid to take risks and be creative with your writing style. Colleges want to see your individuality and unique voice shine through in your essay. While it’s important to follow basic grammar and writing conventions, don’t be afraid to experiment with different writing techniques or approaches.

Seeking feedback and revising your essay may feel like a time-consuming process, but it is well worth the effort. The final result will be a polished, compelling essay that showcases your strengths and grabs the attention of college admissions officers. Keep an open mind, be willing to make changes, and trust in the value of revision.


What is a college application essay?

A college application essay is a personal statement that potential college students are required to submit along with their application. It is an opportunity for students to showcase their personality, values, and writing skills to the admissions committee.

What should I write about in my college application essay?

While the prompt may vary, it is important to write about a topic that is meaningful to you. You can write about a personal experience, a life-changing event, an influential person, or your goals for the future. The key is to choose a topic that allows you to showcase your unique qualities and perspectives.

How long should a college application essay be?

The length of a college application essay can vary, but it is usually between 250 and 650 words. It is important to follow the guidelines provided by the college or university you are applying to. Make sure to stay within the specified word limit and use your words wisely to make the most impact.

What are some tips for writing an outstanding college application essay?

Some tips for writing an outstanding college application essay include: brainstorming ideas, creating an outline, starting with a strong introduction, showcasing your personality and voice, and proofreading for errors. It is also important to be authentic and genuine in your writing.

What are admissions committees looking for in a college application essay?

Admissions committees are looking for an essay that provides insight into who you are as a person. They want to see your unique perspective, your ability to articulate your thoughts, and your potential contributions to the college community. They are also looking for well-written essays that demonstrate strong writing skills.

Alex Koliada, PhD

By Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for studying aging, genetics, and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics. His scientific research has been published in the most reputable international magazines. Alex holds a BA in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California, and a TEFL certification from The Boston Language Institute.