8 Tips for Crafting Your Best College Essay

The college essay matters

Your essay reveals something important about you that your grades and test scores can't—your personality. It can give admissions officers a sense of who you are, as well as showcasing your writing ability. Here are some things that admissions officers look for in an essay.

1. Open strong

A strong opening paragraph that captures the readers’ interest is important. You want to make the admissions officer reading your essay curious about what you say next.

2. Show you can write

Colleges want to see that you have a command of the basics of good writing, which is a key component of success in college.

3. Be direct

Admissions officers also want to see that the student can give a direct answer to the essay question.

4. Make a point

When writing the essay, you should have a comprehensive argument or narrative. In other words—make your point and stick to it. 

5. Stick to your style

Your style should be comfortable for you to write in, so avoid overusing the thesaurus to sound impressive. A writing style that is natural and appropriate for the subject matter is key.

6. Be authentic

Don’t stress trying to write what you think colleges are looking for—just focus on showcasing who you are.

7. Proofread

Correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling are essential, so proofread several times after you’ve finished. Then ask a teacher, parent, or college student to give it a quick read, too.

8. Keep track of length

Finally, admissions officers value succinctness. Remember to pay attention to the recommended essay length or word count.

What now?

For more on how to write a college essay, see Tips for Writing Your College Admissions Essay.