How To Write A College Essay

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how to write a college essay

One of the major parts of a college application is the essay portion. Unlike the rest of your application, the essay portion can be used to let personality shine through and help the university get to know you on a more personal level.

So, how do you write a college essay? You can complete it with the following steps.

Step 1: Compile the required information

Before you begin writing, decide which universities you want to apply to and jot down the application essay prompt(s). Gather the information about the essay requirements. Some universities will give you a few options of essays to choose from, while others might require you to respond to each question.

Step 2: Brainstorm Ideas

Now that you’re all set, start brainstorming ideas on how to best answer the essay question(s). Think of some of the life experiences that have helped shape you as a person. Ask questions to yourself, such as:

  • What makes you unique?
  • What are some of your strengths?
  • What obstacles or challenges have you overcome?
  • Why do you want to attend that college or university?
  • What will a college education do for you?

Jot down these and other ideas in a Microsoft Word document.

Step 3: Write An Outline

Prepare an outline to help you organize your thoughts and give your essay some structure. If there are multiple questions as part of your essay prompt, be sure you hit them in your outline.

Step 4: Write Your First Draft

Use your outline to guide you through the structure of your essay. Rather than answering the question directly, think of a creative way to begin your essay that will grab the university’s attention.

For example, start by telling a short story of an experience you’ve had that is relevant to the prompt, and then slowly weave your answer within that story. Write your first draft completely while staying within the parameters of the essay, such as the maximum word count.

Be sure to write it in your own unique voice, filled with your own emotions and feelings, as if you were talking to another person directly.

Step 5: Take a Break and Revisit Your Essay

One you’ve written your draft, take a short break to clear your mind. This will give you the opportunity to let your essay simmer in your mind for a bit. During this time, you might think of other examples you can use or ways to make your essay more compelling.

After your break, return to your essay and read it again with fresh eyes. Clarify anything that might be unclear, correct any typos or grammatical errors, and compare your essay to the prompt to ensure you’ve answered them all.

Step 6: Have Another Person Edit Your Essay

It’s helpful to have someone else review your essay before submitting. Whether it’s a friend, a parent, or a teacher, this person can provide helpful suggestions to make your essay better and help you develop any parts you might be struggling with.

Step 7: Prepare to Upload Your Essay

After you’ve implemented the suggestions by your editor, review your essay several more times. Double check to make sure you’ve answered your prompt correctly and that there aren’t any typos.

Once your essay is ready to go, upload your essay and submit it.

Other Helpful College Essay Tips

  • Customize your essays.Though some university essays might have a similar prompt, be sure to customize the essay to each college accordingly. Don’t use the exact same essay for multiple colleges. Each university is unique.
  • Make sure your essay sounds like you. Don’t use fancy words, or exaggerate your stories to try to impress them. Be real and honest.
  • Don’t be “wordy.” During your editing phase, look for ways to cut down unnecessary words that elongate your sentences. Try to say the most you can in as few words as possible.
  • Write positively.While it’s OK to write about negative experiences you’ve gone through, write it in a positive tone. Show that you have a positive attitude and outlook on life, and what you have learned from those experiences.
  • Use proofreading tools. Hemingwayapp and Grammarly are helpful in catching any typos, or passive or complex sentences for you to fix. There are also text-to-speech sites, such as TTS Reader, that will read your essay out loud for you as you follow along to help you catch any additional errors.

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