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The Purpose Of A College Application Essay

Every part of your application matters when applying for the college. Still, a strong essay may be a decisive factor for accepting or denying your candidate. It must breathe life into your application, revealing your unique personality and show it not via test results, grades, or after-school activities but your true identity. There is no reason to start to worry, as you can decide what to mention and what is better to omit.

Put aside your pen and think about the admission officers who are expected to read your essay. How can you stand out from the crowd? What your background may keep them considering your application. If, for example, you have a chance to enter the room and share your story in front of the board commission, what would it be? A college application essay goes far beyond the grades and stuff like this. It is your chance to talk about your life goals, experiences, as well as triumphs and challenges that you come across on your life path. This essay should not provide your advantages in terms of a particular educational establishment. It is better to focus on the lessons that you learned and the way you expect to develop.

The main problem of most applicants is that they try to reflect all their life events in a single document with a length of 650 words. Rather than repeat their mistakes, focus on a single moment and tell the story lying behind it.

Instruction on Writing a College Application Essay

Most admission officers do realize how challenging preparation for a good college application essay is. Still, with some practice and effort, you will be able to craft eye-catching documents and stand out from the crowd. Knowing all steps, you will come up with a clear, exciting essay able to tell who you are and why your candidate should be accepted.

Understand Your Prompt

It may seem to be too predictable, but the most important thing for writing a winning college application essay is to understand a prompt or a question. After finishing your paper, you should go back to the prompt to make sure a ready text is relevant to it. College questions may suggest one or more central ideas, which vary from trivial to personal. Your main task is to come up not only with strong insights but creative ones:

  • Read the question/ prompt at least three times, paying attention to each detail.
  • Take some time to understand what you are asked, and breathe out before letting the flow of ideas reach you.  
  • Before brainstorming, choose the goal you are going to accomplish.
  • If you face any difficulties, it is better to back to the initial question and ask yourself again how it may be applied to you.
  • Do not consider your school essays, as they differ from a college application essay a lot.


Let good-quality brainstorming fill your mind with numerous ideas to address an essay question. Pay attention to ideas that may come out from the brainstorming stage, which will help you make the overall writing process easier. As a result, you will understand what direction you are moving in and feel more confident. Consider these tips to succeed:

  • Reflect. You have so many years behind when you could collect relevant experience. Now you need to ask yourself, “What are my strengths?”. Think about how your friends may describe you or what makes you different from other numerous applicants.
  • Write down all ideas. There is not a strict technique to follow. Just write down everything that comes to your mind, not to lose any single thought.
  • Narrow down the options. Once you have all ideas on a paper in front of you, it is high time to think about what concepts better fit the format of a college application essay. Next, weigh all their pros and available potential. What idea can you develop better and at the same time do not lose the reader’s attention? Which one can better reveal your personality?
  • Select the story to share. Finally, pick up only one thought. It must have enough supportive arguments and showcase your abilities, perseverance, characteristics, etc.

Create an Outline

Think about what architects, programmers, and cooks have in common? Yes, all of them rely on a definite plan while preparing their own product (a dish, a house project, a web page). The same rule works for a college application essay. After brainstorming all ideas, you understand what you want today, but also, you need to know how to say it. This is when you should think about a good outline. Write the outline that divides the entire paper into a few sections:

  • It is difficult to imagine a good story without a beginning, middle part, and end. That’s why you should arrange your ideas in accordance with three main sections, which are introduction, body, and summary. Adhering to this structure, you will make your essay easy to read and coherent.
  • A strategy. Did you decide how you are going to start your document? What hook will you use to engage the readers? Anecdote, dialogue, question, or anything else? Try to identify the tone depending on the ideas that you plan to share.
  • Mind your writing style and voice. It is crucial to give the essay your traditional tone to let it sound natural. Be careful and do not change it throughout the overall text not to confuse the readers.

Write the Essay

At last, you know what you are going to include in your college application essay and how you want to do it. Now, it is high time to turn on your PC and start creating a winning paper. Do not expect a lot from yourself, and let the first draft be rough. Don’t worry as later you will back it and change. When the draft is ready, read it again and revise:

  • Be specific. Avoid including common phrases and clichés. It will not play into your hands for sure. Instead, add detailed facts, interesting quotations, engaging reasons, etc. Make your content vivid and appealing.
  • Keep the paper narrow. Preserve the focus and do not lose the attention of the target audience. Let the readers follow all your ideas smoothly from the very beginning to the very end.
  • Be who you are. The admission officers know the difference between a recycled story and an original one. Avoid bringing the common paper and think about how you can impress the commission. Come up with something different. Using humor is a good idea if it is appropriate.
  • Be concise. Include only relevant information, and do not put 20 words to the sentence if only five can express your particular idea.

Proofread the Document

Probably you have worked hard and did your best to bring to the table a winning college application essay. However, you need to do one more thing to make sure it is arranged properly. It is proofreading:

  • Put a paper aside. Do not start checking the essay just after finishing it. Give yourself some time before going back to it. For example, drink a cup of tea, walk a dog, etc. Only then you may start checking the document. Otherwise, you will lose focus, and you won’t notice possible mistakes in your text.
  • Don’t rely only on the PC. Computers are helpful in terms of grammar mistakes, but they can’t recognize the environment in which the word is used. That’s why you should check everything on your own, avoiding using slang or acronyms as they are not a part of academic style.
  • Ask for help. It would be nice if your parent, friend, or teacher can have a look at the essay. A fresh view will help you highlight weak points and correct them. This way, you can make sure that your college application essay sounds strong enough.
  • Read the essay backward. It may sound funny or even silly, but such an approach is really great. While reading the text backward, your brain will watch whether it has any missing information and places that require additional polishing.
  • Read the paper out loud. This way, you may easier detect mistakes and make sure the punctuation is correct. As a result, you will also understand whether all sentences sound nice.

Final Remarks

Crafting a college application essay requires time, skill, and effort. Remember to include name, ID number (if available), contact information when you submit the essay. Make sure that you have a few copies of the paper. Also, check whether the college that you are applying for has received your essay. Remember that a college application essay is decisive for you, so do your best and take every opportunity to make it winning. If you require a piece of advice or advanced professional help, then approach an essay writing service to guide you.

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