How To Write A College Admissions Essay That Will Blow Them Away

Don’t underestimate the power of the college admission essay. Just like how you can use facts and figures to make a case in your research paper.

The deep introspection that comes from delving into your thoughts will allow you to write essays that are more than just another bland piece of writing. 

By making an impact on the reader, instead of just reading about an impact (no pun intended), you’re setting yourself apart in a sea of other applicants who are simply trying to be impressive. 

Let’s discuss what exactly makes for a great college admissions essay and see if we can get you started in the right direction.

How to write your college application essay – YouTube
1. Understand the Prompt: Carefully analyze the essay prompt to ensure you address all aspects of the question.
2. Showcase Your Authenticity: Be genuine and reveal your true self through personal anecdotes and reflections.
3. Create a Strong Opening: Grab the reader’s attention with a compelling introduction that sets the tone for your essay.
4. Focus on Specific Details: Use vivid descriptions and specific details to make your story come to life.
5. Reflect on Growth: Discuss how challenges and experiences have contributed to your personal growth and perspective.

Brainstorm Ideas

The first step in writing your college admissions essay is to brainstorm ideas. You have to come up with the big picture, starting from the beginning of your story and through to the end.

Don’t censor yourself. Don’t worry about how all these pieces will fit together; just write down everything that comes into your head.

Even if it doesn’t seem important or relevant right now you can always go back later and rework things once you’ve got a better idea of what exactly you want to say.

For now, just start writing a list of things that are important or memorable for some reason:

My favorite food is pasta because I grew up eating Italian food every night and now I can’t imagine eating anything else! There are so many flavors and textures!

When I was little my mom used to take me on long walks around our neighborhood after dinner every night so we could talk about everything under the sun! She told me stories about when she was growing up too! It was great bonding time for us both 🙂

Note: You should use your own words here don’t copy/paste from somewhere else (unless it’s completely relevant).

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Start Early

The best way to write a great college admissions essay is to start early. It’s tempting, of course, to wait until the last minute and then throw something together but that’s not going to get you anywhere. 

You need time both to plan your essay and write it, so try not to put off starting your brainstorming until just before the deadline.

Have A Plan

It’s also imperative that you have a plan in place before you begin writing your college admissions essay. 

There are many different ways of approaching essays like this, but having an idea of what kind of essay you want to write will help make sure that everything flows together well once all is said and done (and it’ll be much easier for you if everything comes out sounding polished).

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Create A Rough Outline

The next step is to create a rough outline for your essay. This will help you organize your thoughts and decide which parts of the story to tell first. It’s also a good way to avoid filler words and keep from rambling or repeating yourself unnecessarily.

Outlining can be done in any number of ways, but I recommend starting with just one main point and then adding more points as necessary until you have the entire essay mapped out on paper.

Once you’ve finished writing, go back through your outline and make sure that each paragraph corresponds with what it says in the outline (e.g., if there are three paragraphs about X, but four about Y). 

This helps ensure that everything flows smoothly throughout your writing process—and it ultimately makes for a better final product!

Write The Essay

Once you’ve written your introduction, body, and conclusion, it’s time to put the essay together.

Start with your introduction. This is where you make an argument for why you should be accepted into their program. You want to grab their attention here and have them wanting more so they’ll continue reading. 

The best way to do this is by offering up a question that they can’t help but answer themselves: “What would I gain from attending this college?” Don’t worry about being too wordy at this stage; it’s okay if some of what you write gets cut out later on!

Next comes the body of the essay itself (the main part). This should consist of several paragraphs, each focused on one specific point or aspect of your application (such as “Why I’m passionate about teaching”). 

For each point/aspect/idea that needs explaining further in-depth, create a new paragraph for each one so that there are no more than three sections per paragraph rather than just one long run-on sentence made up entirely from paragraphs within it.

This will make things easier on both yourself and readers who might otherwise lose interest halfway through reading something like that because nothing was going on at all except boring facts being thrown around everywhere without any kind of structure between them all making sense even though every single thing said sounded good enough when taken alone.

But not necessarily together either which means we’re all lost now because nobody knows what exactly happened during those few minutes where everything went southwardly downhill fast enough until five seconds later when everything started turning upwardly upwards again.

Until ten minutes later when finally everything came back down again onto flat land which makes sense since there aren’t any mountains anywhere nearby anyways.

So maybe we should just forget about ever going there again since nobody lives nearby anyways except maybe one guy who lives halfway across town where he works everyday building houses before lunchtime starts up again

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Use Proper Grammar And Sentence Structure

Now that you’ve done your research and have a good idea of what the admissions officers are looking for, it’s time to write your essay. One of the most important things to remember when writing an essay is that it should be grammatically correct and well-organized. 

Make sure your sentences flow together nicely and don’t run too long or too short. The length of each sentence will depend on what you’re trying to accomplish with that particular sentence is this an explanation? A thesis statement? Something else?

If you’re not sure if what you’ve written is clear enough, try reading it aloud or having someone else read it for clarity; often we can’t see our own mistakes if we’re so close to them. 

It’s also important not only that each sentence makes sense in its own right but also fits within the larger context: What does it add up to? How does each paragraph build upon one another so readers know where they are going next (or can easily figure out where they are)?

Showcase Your Personality

If you’ve been paying attention to all that we’ve said so far, then you now know what makes a great story: it’s personal and interesting. And that’s why the best essays are those where the author is honest about who he or she is, what they or cares about, and what they value (if anything). 

It doesn’t matter if it sounds like an infomercial or a Buzzfeed quiz as long as there’s some substance behind their answers, students will connect with them on an emotional level.

You don’t have to be funny or creative all the time but if that’s who you are naturally then by all means show off! 

You can even add some humor into your essay if it fits in well with what else you’re saying. Just make sure not to overdo it because otherwise, it will come across as forced comedy instead of being genuinely funny.

Share Facts About Yourself And Your Life

The more personal you can make it, the better. The admissions committee wants to know more about who you are as a person. This is your chance to showcase what you have done, what you have accomplished, what you have learned, and how that reflects on who YOU are as a person. 

It’s also important to share any community service activities that demonstrate self-leadership and responsibility. They want to know if there were times when you went above and beyond at home or school without being asked!

You might be surprised at how much information they are looking for; they want details! This isn’t just about academics – this includes everything from community service activities (like volunteering or tutoring) or extracurricular activities (like sports) down to family life. 

If something is interesting about your background that makes an applicant stand out from the rest of their class…this is where it shines through most.”

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Write About Something Important To You

One of the best ways to write a compelling essay is to write about something important to you. Don’t worry you don’t have to spend all your free time outdoors, volunteering at the local soup kitchen or working on the school newspaper. 

You can still have an interesting and engaging essay if you choose something that interests you, even if it doesn’t seem directly related to admissions requirements or your major.

For example:

  • If you love reading, then write about someone who inspires you as a reader or author.
  • If music is part of who you are, then write about a musician who inspires you in some way (and make sure they aren’t dead).
  • If cooking fascinates and delights everyone in your family, then write about how much fun it is for everyone!

Avoid Clichéd Topics Or Overused Stories

Don’t tell your admissions essay to be about overcoming a major obstacle, even if it was. You’ve heard that one before, and so has everyone else who’s applied to college recently. It’s clichés like these that will get your essay instantly tossed into the “no” bin by an admissions officer. 

Also, avoid any stories where you had a sad childhood or were abused as a kid. While these topics may make for interesting reading, they’re also kind of boring and overdone, and for good reason!

Do Not Write About Topics That Are Too Serious Or Sad

Admissions officers love when students write about serious issues because it shows them how serious you are about getting into college and being able to handle the pressures associated with being responsible for yourself once you get there (i.e., paying tuition). 

But don’t go overboard! If you write something that is too heavy-handed or dramatic (i.e., “My mother died when I was five years old”).

Chances are good that what little bit of sympathy an admission officer might have had for your plight will quickly evaporate in an instant after reading such an obvious ploy at garnering attention from them (and everyone else).

Don’t Be Afraid To Be Honest

When you’re writing your essay and thinking about what to say, keep in mind that being honest is the best policy. If you want to get into a good college, it’s important to be as authentic as possible.

Talk About Your Strengths And Weaknesses

In high school I was good at sports but not as good at math or science; when asked about my strengths and weaknesses for my college application essay.

I talked about how I struggled with math and science classes because it wasn’t something that came naturally to me but that this didn’t mean there weren’t other things I could excel at!

Be real about who you are as a person! 

A lot of students try too hard with their essays; they write long paragraphs describing themselves in ways they think colleges will find attractive rather than describing themselves honestly (and sometimes even celebrating their flaws or quirks). 

This doesn’t work for everyone – some people do better by focusing on what makes them unique instead of trying so hard to appear perfect! Just remember: 

Colleges want successful alumni who know how to problem-solve creatively under pressure – not robots who follow directions exactly right every time without thinking outside the box (which isn’t realistic anyway). It’s okay if you make mistakes sometimes because life happens – just learn from them 🙂

Avoid Drama, Seriousness, And Sorrow

Oftentimes, I get asked what makes a good college essay. The answer is simple: honesty. College admissions officers know that your life has been a journey, and they want to hear about it. The more honest you are about yourself and your experiences, the better! 

Don’t be afraid to share how you feel or how your life has changed since high school it’s all part of your story! This is not an opportunity for you to edit out anything that might make you seem less than perfect (i.e., boring). 

It’s just the opposite this is an opportunity for you to show off all of the great things about yourself! 

Don’t waste this chance; let them know who YOU are and why YOU deserve their full attention at this very moment in time when they’re reading through thousands upon thousands of applications from other applicants just like yourself.

Avoid Silly Humor And One-Liners, They Rarely Work In Writing As Much As In-Person

If you’re funny, don’t hold back! But if you’re not a comedian, try to avoid writing an essay that’s all one-liners and jokes. If your essay is meant to be humorous, keep it simple. 

It’s best not to try too hard the admissions officers are looking for substance in your writing rather than being entertained by the words on the page. 

Humor can be a great way to make a good first impression and show off what makes you unique, but don’t go overboard with puns or sarcasm if that isn’t your personality.

If you can pull off making people laugh with what you write (like in this article), then do it! 

Just remember: humor is subjective and may not work for everyone reading your college admissions essay…so if your sense of humor isn’t appreciated by every audience member, then save it for another time when there aren’t so many people involved!

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Ask Someone To Proofread Your Essay For You

When you’ve finished your essay, it’s important to get a second set of eyes on it. After all the hard work you’ve put into writing an essay, it can be difficult to know if there are any minor mistakes in spelling and grammar that need correcting. 

The best way to catch these errors is to read over your essay and then have someone else read through it as well—someone who has no connection with either the topic or with your college application process (for example a friend or family member). 

If they find any mistakes, have them mark them with a highlighter so that they’re easier for you to find later when proofreading yourself. This will help prevent any embarrassing errors from slipping through!

Make Sure Your Essay Includes An Introduction, Body, And Conclusion

Once you have a draft of your essay, it’s time to refine it. This means making sure that the introduction and conclusion clearly state what your essay is about, but also help the reader understand how the body of your work fits into that larger argument.

The introduction should be at least four sentences long and will begin with an attention-grabbing statement or question. It should also include some details about who you are as an applicant, like where you grew up or went to school previously.

In contrast, the conclusion should be short (two or three sentences), but it should have an impactful ending that leaves a lasting impression on admissions officers as they read through hundreds of applications in their committee meetings!


If you’ve followed all the steps above, you’re in a great place to start writing. But maybe you’re not ready yet. Maybe you want more time to think about where this essay is going and how it will get there. 

Or maybe you have some more questions about how it should be written especially since we just highlighted so many ways that your essay can go wrong! 

Well, don’t worry: there are still plenty of resources out there for making sure your admissions essay makes a big impact on the admissions committee. 

The three most important things to remember before hitting send on your application (or submitting your application by post) are: 

Read over every word of your work as many times as possible, have someone else look over it at least once, and give yourself ample time to write the thing.

Further Reading

Explore these additional resources to enhance your college admissions essay writing skills:

College Essay Examples Discover a collection of well-crafted college essay examples that can inspire and guide your own writing journey.

12 Strategies to Writing the Perfect College Essay Harvard Summer School shares 12 effective strategies for crafting an outstanding college essay that captures your unique voice and experiences.

Crafting a Strong Conclusion for Your College Essay Learn how to create a compelling conclusion that ties together your college essay’s themes and leaves a lasting impact on the reader.


Got questions? We’ve got answers! Here are some frequently asked questions about college admissions essays:

Q: How do I choose a compelling topic for my college essay?

A: Look for personal experiences that have shaped you, challenges you’ve overcome, or moments that reflect your character and values.

Q: What should I avoid when writing a college essay?

A: Avoid clichés, generic topics, and excessive self-promotion. Instead, focus on authenticity and showcasing your genuine self.

Q: How long should my college essay be?

A: There’s no fixed word limit, but most essays are around 500 to 650 words. Make sure your essay is concise and impactful.

Q: How can I make my essay stand out to admissions officers?

A: Share unique anecdotes, vivid descriptions, and reflective insights that provide a deeper understanding of who you are beyond your achievements.

Q: Should I have someone else review my essay?

A: Yes, seeking feedback from teachers, peers, or mentors can offer valuable insights and help you polish your essay before submission.