Writing the College Essay

The college application essay is your opportunity to give admissions officers insight into who you are beyond your standardized test scores and grades.  The essay should reveal what inspires and motivates you and present a slice of life that is meaningful to you.


  • Be your authentic self; write in your own voice.
  • Focus on your strengths; highlight your growth; write about how you have evolved emotionally and/or intellectually.
  • Even if you choose a common theme, take a fresh approach.
  • Demonstrate your quality of thinking; go beyond surface observations.
  • Make every word count; write clear, concise sentences.
  • Organize your material; open and close with compelling sentences; vary sentence structure.
  • Use active rather than passive voice.
  • Edit for grammar, punctuation and spelling.


  • Although your essay should be personal, avoid confessionals.
  • Avoid overusing the thesaurus; your prose should sound like you speak.
  • Avoid cliché; use vivid, specific details, events and facts.
  • Don’t repeat information found elsewhere on your application; take the opportunity to add value to your application.