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How to Write a College Application Essay

How to Write a College Application Essay

Schools look for your individuality. It's something that goes beyond test scores. That is what you should explore in your college application essay. Capturing your charisma in an original writing style is not as scary as it may seem. Let’s take a look at how to write an application essay based on what admission officers look for.


Table Of Contents

What is a College Application Essay?

A college application is sometimes referred to as a personal statement. It is a type of narrative essay written by a student applying to a college, university, or graduate school of their choosing.

Your application essay should show your dedication in pursuing your professional academic goals. It must specify why the university's program is ideal for you, and what sets you apart from other students. Basically - sell yourself.

Knowing The Real You - Application Essay Prompts

Preparation is the key to success. Before writing, brainstorm to find what makes you stand out from other applicants. Thankfully, there are a few well-known application essay prompts to point you in the right direction.

These prompts will get you to delve into the inner you. Use them to explore your ambitions and motivations. Remember, the main goal is to show your individuality, and your strengths. Here are some common college application essay prompt examples:

  • Experiencing Growth - Think of an experience that molded you into the person you are today.

  • Overcoming a Challenge - Explore a personal challenge, setback or failure. The way you overcame it, will say a lot about your individual approach to finding solutions.

  • Take Time To Reflect - Have you questioned or challenged a belief or idea? Did it affect or change you?

  • Show Your Academic Side - Academia is not just a place to study, but to discuss ethical and moral dilemmas. It is like an introduction to the problems of our world. Show your take on a global issue. It can give the admission officers a feeling that you’re already part of the discussion.

  • An Accomplishment - Think of an accomplishment in your life that you’re proud of - but don’t brag.

  • A Captivating Topic - Describe something that captivates you. It may be a hobby, an object, a building, or anything you might find interesting. Andy Warhol thought that a Campbell soup can was captivating and it made his career.

Click on the picture down below to explore Common College Application Essay Prompts.

College Application Essay Prompts

Application Essay Outline

By this point, the 5-paragraph-essay format should be a no-brainer. Having finished high school, you’ve written research papers before. You've experimented with narrative essays, and mastered the 5-paragraph-format.

In application essays, the rules are the same. Take the 5-paragraph-essay format and make it your own. After having brainstormed through the essay prompts, it’s time to put your ideas in order. Here’s a template to help you refresh your mind:

  • Introduction - Attention Grabber
    Tip A: Use the Intro to set the tone of your writing. Keep It Consistent
    Tip B: Make a creative thesis in the style of Narrative essays - because that’s what this is.

  • Body 1
    Tip A: It’s best to make the transitions “invisible” to not lose momentum.

  • Body 2
    Tip A: As you delve deeper, it’s easy to start ranting. Don’t. You’re not writing the next Ulysses.
    Tip B: Unless of course, you’re applying for a degree in English Literature.

  • Body 3
    Tip A: Really, the structure depends on your ideas.
    Tip B: So how you organize your essay is entirely up to you.
    Tip C: The main thing is that when the committee puts down your essay, they must feel like they know you.

  • Conclusion
    Tip A: As you get closer to the end, it’s always useful to remember where you started.
    Tip B: This is your last chance to make an impression. Use it wisely.

Additionally, check out our page on the application essay format!

Putting Pen To Paper - Writing The Essay

Now that you’ve got everything organized writing the essay should be easy. Hop on a computer, and type up a rough draft based on your brainstorming and outline. It’s always good to write more, and then remove all unnecessary writing, leaving only the best parts. Before you know it, you’ve got yourself a banging application essay!

Follow these writing tips in case you get lost:

  • Keep focused from beginning to end. If you lose yourself, you will lose the reader. Your main idea should glow in every sentence.
  • Avoid cliches. You’re not fooling anyone with generic or cliched language. Describe it your way, and you have a higher chance of standing out from the rest.
  • Know your reader. Admission officers go through heaps of application essays each day. If the essay doesn’t stand out right away, it’s going to the bin. That’s what usually happens to plagiarised essays or ones written by mom and dad.
  • Simplicity is key. You do not impress anyone with fancy synonyms and lengthy sentences. Keep it real - real simple.

The Lost Art of Proofreading

Why is proofreading a lost art? Because no one does it properly. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you’ve got to polish your essay like polishing a sword for battle. This doesn’t mean skimming through it once you're done writing. If you want admission officers to take you seriously, here’s what you should do:

  • Put the essay down for a day or two. Come back and read it with a fresh mind.

    • Does it read smoothly?
    • Is there a cohesive introduction, body, and conclusion?
    • Does the essay opener do a good job of capturing your attention?
    • Is your writing style and voice consistent throughout the entire essay?
  • Give the essay to another person to read. Ask them the same questions.

That’s it. No need to overthink it. The essay must tell your story - in your own words. If it does - you’ve got yourself a proper admission essay. If not, go back and reread it.

Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team

The article does a great job summarizing how to write a college application essay. However, it doesn’t articulate one critical point: target audience. What are the values of the school that you’re applying to? If you’re applying to a school that values integration and care for your society, then your essay should talk about how you volunteered at a local animal shelter or held a charity auction. If the school values things like creativity, then emphasize that aspect. While writing your application essay, in particular on the CommonApp, my advice is to have different essays for different kinds of schools. If needed, a general one that shows you in a good light will suffice, but if you have more time to personalize each essay to the particular school then by no means do so. This is a good solution for people who have multiple things that they can be proud of from their high school career. If you’re a math whiz but also a soccer champ, you can write about both of those qualities in different essays.

Dr. Joshua, from EssayPro

Want to attend the best college?

Top-notch writers on our professional writing service handle this task on a regular basis - they know exactly what the admission office wants to see. Just head on to a live chat with our top paper writer and watch how is he using your ideas to formulate a stunning application that will get you into the college of your dreams.

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