How to Write a
College Admission Essay
By Meghan Ivarsson

The college admission essay is arguably the most important essay you will write pre-college, combing all the skills and personal development you have achieved until senior year and condensing them into something meaningful on paper. Never an easy task, the admissions essay leaves many students confused and lost for words, but this piece-wise guide makes the process clear and includes lots of useful information.

General Advice

The essay needs to present who you are, so it helps to think about how the essay will demonstrate your personality, trials and tribulations, background, talents, beliefs, influences, what you have learned, and so on. The essay should not pack in everything but rather reveal the things you believe are significant with carefully selected examples. The admissions essay varies a great deal from student to student, but there is no rigid structure or formalism for a great essay. Revision and advice sites like, online forums and advice from peers and teachers help to get the ideas flowing.

Understanding the Question

It is absolutely crucial to know what the admissions essay is asking of you, and your essay needs to stick to the topic of the question and provide a satisfactory answer. Some questions will have a number of themes or topics, and no matter how simple, personal, trivial or challenging they are, sticking to the question is as important as providing a good essay. Once an essay title is chosen, read over it to let it sink in, and take time to think about what is really being asked.

The Writing Process

Begin with a few brainstorming sessions to think of new ideas and expand upon them. Incorporate your personality and past experiences, and this is the time to reflect upon your life. See what springs to mind. Once you have a good amount of ideas, think about which ones can be developed further, are most interesting, capture your essence and which ones are most relevant to the question. Link ideas together to form distinct themes – the final part is to select a single theme to use for your essay.

Now it is time to plan the structure of the college admission essay. Plan for the large-scale structure such as main body and conclusion, and also think about what specific things you could include such as anecdotes and questions.

Once you have your outline, you are finally ready to write the essay. As you write, remember that you need to be original, focused and specific. Try to explain things in as little words as possible. Rely on your own brain and never modify the work of others you see online.

Educational websites give good examples of essays and you compare your own work to see how well it matches up. The proofreading and editing process is very important and should not be overlooked. Read through for consistency and to ensure grammar, spelling and punctuation are correct.

Megan Ivarsson is a writer for Scholar Advisor, an educational portal for students and teachers. There you can find study tips, essay samples and writing guides.

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Written by Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on and Facebook.
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