The College Essay
The essay is a very powerful part of the application process. If the colleges to which you
are applying require an essay, you should look at this as an opportunity to add an
important dimension to your application. Essays are reviewed by people who are trying
to discern the role that you will play in their campus community. Be yourself and let
your voice come through.
Finding the right topic
Try not to write about something just because you think it is what the admission
counselor wants to read. There is no perfect response to any essay question.
Writing for an audience may cause you to write something that does not ring true
to the reader.
No one can tell the exact same story as you. Assume that someone else in the
applicant pool will be writing about a similar subject; make yours specific to you.
For example, if you choose to write about doing community service, add details
that make your experience stand out.
No topic is boring… if told the right way. With enough detail and creativity,
almost any topic can be a good one.
Stay positive! You want admission counselors to want to meet you.
If you are still struggling to find the right topic, ask a friend, family member, or
your College or Guidance Counselor to help brainstorm ideas with you. Take the
time to pay attention to details in your daily life – the people, the circumstances,
and the experiences that make you who you are.
Format of the essay
Grab the reader’s attention right away. The admission counselor shouldn’t have
to work hard to figure out what you are writing about.
When in doubt, use the first person. The sentence, “when you volunteer, you
learn more about yourself” sounds much stronger if it is written, “as a volunteer, I
“Show” rather than “tell” your story.
The essay should be 1/3 about the story and 2/3 about how the event or person
Length of essays
Follow the application instructions. Most colleges will tell you what you should
be aiming for in either page-length or word-count.