How To Write An Essay For A College Application

December 12, 2022 F WP
How to write an essay for a college application

How To Write An Essay For A College Application

Table of Contents

College admission is one of the most essential steps in the life of a young high school graduate. Mostly, the odds are lined up in his favor, he has to master them all to obtain a letter from the best place of the lot.

There are more than a couple of documents involved in making the case for the candidature of an aspirant. The most common ones include the admission form, transcript of the last attended degree, and the college application essay. In this blog, we will cover the college admission essay, including the steps involved in writing a stand-out essay to ensure admission to the first choice of college.

Writing A College Application Essay

A college application essay is a classical example of a “why us” essay. Any typical admission committee at a college asks the candidates to show them three things – who they are, what they want to do in life, and how that specific college and its programs can help them in achieving that vision. This vision of the students is shared with the college admissions panel through a well-written essay.
Many experts go to the length that this college application essay determines the candidature of the applicants. Since many students fulfill other eligibility criteria of passing certain scores and other extracurricular activities, this essay writing step can make all the difference in the world. The problematic thing in writing a superb college admission essay is that young high school graduates do not have the tools or training to string a couple of paragraphs together to make and win the case for their candidature.

The Ideal Length of A College Admission Essay

There is no set ideal length of a college admission essay. It varies from one college or program in the same college to another. The typical length of a college admission essay for undergraduate students is somewhere between 250 to 650. In many cases, the word count for an admission essay is not specified by the admissions committee. When that is the case, it is best to err on the upper limit of the typical numbers. This will allow enough space to make the case without rushing to the conclusion.

Major Sections of An Essay

An essay is a written account of a subject to convince the readers about the reality the writer wants to project. There are different types of essays students write in schools and colleges. Their rationale and ideas can differ but the main element behind writing an essay is clear – convey relevant information to the readers.

In this section, we will dissect the major sections of an essay for the students so that they can understand their functions and realize how they are all stacked together to show a holistic picture to the readers.

Opening/ Introduction

The opening or introduction of an essay is self-explanatory as it is where the essay takes off. The first sentence or sentences of an essay are described as “hooks” as they are designed to get the readers invested in the essay. The hooks can be shocking or revealing statements, direct questions asked by the writer to the readers, a statistic, or anything. Whatever it is, it should help readers transition to the essay and understand the case. Then comes the background information or context of the topic that the writer wants to explore in the essay. After that, a thesis statement bridges the introduction section with that of the main body.

Main Body

As the name indicates, the main body is where all the action takes place. This is the creme de la creme of the essay in terms of word count and ideas. For a college application essay, writers should go full-blown into the details of who they are, what they want to do in life, and how the college will help them in their ambitions through their instructors, programs, nurturing environment, and so on. Even though there is much space to play around, writers should make every word count and err on the succinct and bold side of the narrative. Once this is done, it is time to get to the conclusion to summarize the main ideas.

Closing/ Conclusion

This is where the action and the essay come to a halt. It is that part of an essay where the writer needs to tie all the loose ends and ensure that the main message of the essay is read and understood by the readers. Experts often compare the conclusion of an essay with the miniature of a complete essay. It can stand on its own without other parts. That’s why the philosophy behind writing an essay’s conclusion is the same as writing the whole essay, with three distinct parts or sections. The most important thing that writers should remember about the conclusion is the reiteration of the main ideas on a high note.

How To Pick A College Essay Topic

Picking a college essay topic can be a daunting task for students. Since they do not have ample experience in doing this exercise, there are chances that they make expensive mistakes in this step. When this is the case, students need to devise a whole plan to pick a topic. Again, there are many colleges and application-handling committees that assign topics to aspirants. When this is the case, there is no need to go through such an exercise. But if you have to, you will know how to choose the perfect topic and turn it into a title.

Writing The College Essay

In this section, we will go through the process of writing the essay. It can be different for different students but we will take a generalist approach so that both A students and C students can understand the demand of each part and how to make it work in their favor.

Keep in mind that writing is a subjective process and the thinking of one person can be different from that of another. So, with that in mind, let’s get started!

Current Trends

Current trends are the first choice of students when writing college admission essays. Readers find these topics easier to understand and more relevant to the contemporary scenario. As far as the process of writing the essay is concerned, students do not need to go through pains to introduce a topic or to dig deeper into the sources to find current, most relevant information. That’s why aspirants should go for current trends in politics, economics, technology trends, etc., to make their cases.

Your Ambitions

The college application essay is about three interconnected things – who is the candidate, what he wants to do in life, and how that alma mater will help him achieve what he wants to do. In that sense, the essay should not count on the great things about the college or his past and future aspirations. It should be an amalgamation of everything of the three and in-between. That’s why it pays to take some time and go through your career plans beforehand.

Previous Records

University previous records can show what type of essays were successful in the past as this is essentially what admission committees want to read. This can be done using online portals or connecting with the alumni. For that, visiting the campus if it is within your easy to reach is the best way forward. In addition to simply writing the essay, you may get to live the part while visiting and gathering necessary information along the way. But make sure that it is not plagiarized or ideas were not blatantly copied from others.

Understanding The Guidelines

There is no admission without understanding the guidelines. Many students make the mistake of ignoring guidelines and instructions before or after writing the draft. This leaves a very poor impression of the writer to the readers, which will determine the candidature of the writer at this point. So, guidelines are the most and first step of writing.

Planning The Whole Process

Going blind into the process of writing is a hard sell. There is no apparent reward in winging the process of writing and then only coming up with a mediocre essay. When that is the case, it is necessary to plan. Make sure you have identified and understood the guidelines and come up with a suitable pre-writing phase to cover all the bases.

Writing The Essay

This is the main part of writing the college application essay. Again, students should go easy and consider every step before moving forward. There is a reason professional writers spend time and effort in planning because it helps them in completing the project in time as well as ensuring the highest quality in writing. Before going through revisions, make sure you have gone through multiple drafts.

Reviewing Before Submission

This goes without saying as no matter how meticulous a draft of writing is, there are always errors and flaws in it. When this is the case, you cannot be slightly sure about securing admission to your favorite college. You can achieve this feat by either going through the drafts yourself using online tools or commissioning the editing to your siblings or friends.


There is more than one standard way to start a college application essay. It can be a question, a statistic, or a statement. Whatever that is, it should connect the reader with the main idea or premise of the essay. In addition to this, it should make them invested in the essay based on the contents of the opening or introduction.

Typically, three things are explored in college admission essays by aspirants.

  • The backstory of the writer
  • The aims and ambitions of the writer
  • How the college will help the writer in achieving those goals

By stressing these three, students can come up with enough to make a glowing case for their candidature.

Following are the steps in how to write a college essay:

  • Go through admission guidelines
  • Research and outline
  • Align personal interests with the college highlights
  • Write multiple drafts
  • Edit and proofread before submitting

Here are the 5 tips to write a good college essay:

  • It is about the writer and the college
  • Go through departments, faculties, and other things by the college
  • Provide an anecdote to make the difference
  • Show clarity of ambition and vision
  • Connect the dots for the readers

You should avoid generic or self-centric information in the essay. The admission committee is interested in knowing how the college and the candidate will both shine together, not the account of faculties in the college or the past of the candidate.

The dos of a college application essay include all the best practices of essay writing and presentation. As for the don’ts avoid generic information or anything that can be found as is on the internet and can be termed as plagiarism by the readers.

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